SURVIVE CHRISTMAS 2020 SOBER
Updated: Feb 20
Gosh who’s trying to keep things together through Christmas? More importantly who is trying to stay clean and sober through Christmas? Or better yet..are you thinking how the F- - K DO I STAY CLEAN and emotionally balanced through a Covid Christmas?
Things are different in 2020 no question. Getting and staying clean and sober may seem almost damn near impossible! One thing is for sure, treating the disease of alcoholism/addiction in any decade is not easy. I didn't even know what a 12step program was when I sobered up in the 90's? Heck, I didn't understand or know what alcoholism/addiction even was? Never got that taught in life 101 where I grew up? In those days and before, no one talked about drinking as a 'disease'. No one was plastering it on billboards or talking about it on radio/tv or seeing it in the newspaper? In early recovery I knew people who lost their job because they came clean about being alcoholic. The stories about being cast out, judged and shamed was certainly common. Treatment was not readily available, support meetings were not as plenty as they are today, phones were attached to the wall and didn't travel in your purse with you, and there certainly was no internet, Google wasn't even around.
I am not an expert by any means, however one thing I have been able to do for almost 3 decades now, is to stay clean, sober and reasonably serene through Christmas! My sobriety date is December 19, 1991 and getting through a Christmas sober is something I know well. This year when Covid hit, I feared for the Recovery community and my own recovery. We were threatened with so much loss. Forced isolation and disconnection? Recovery was changing if we liked it or not, and after 28 years of living doing it one way, I was deeply worried! I was scared like so many of us. The second wave has hit and once again many are living in so much fear and isolation. What is the solution? When is this going to end? What if it doesn't?
I was very grateful to God who stepped in and put me in charge of opening up a zoom room 5 days a week back in March. It was there that I was able to be reminded about the solution. The solution I preached to newcomers for years. I had to remember how to live a one day at a time program and put 'going to any length' back into my tool box. Looking for the positives and finding the good in my day was also needed. My resistance proved I needed to be humbled, I needed my ego to be checked, my pride wow! I really found how much of an overhauling was needed. I was complacent in my recovery and was closer to that drink than ever. Friends around me boycotted zoom, and would not come to them. My disease was working overtime to convince me I should join them, but that commitment to service held me accountable. It was not long until I experienced the miracle in those zoom rooms! I got that feeling I'd get at my face to face recovery groups. That spiritual pouring of love and inspiration! It was online in such a big way!
I could see the Recovery Community globally growing, giving back online and so many using their voices to help end the stigma of addiciton like I've never experienced before. I was witnessing lives being transformed and saved. I am honoured to be amongst so many incredible sober humans recovering out loud! I have also seen so many battle this year and fall because of the changes from Covid-19. Meetings changed, access to all supports changed, and treating our disease appeared to be threatened. It was easy to find the excuses to isolate. Many lost the battle and have died because of the change. My heart breaks for those families who have lost a loved one to this disease.
Many of the excuses that were and still are circulating are : "I can't concentrate online" "I don't like people looking at me on a screen" "Internet connection sucks." "Seeing people walking around is distracting" "I'd rather just meet someone face to face" Have you made any of these excuses? Lets put things in perspective for a moment, can anyone relate to these excuses:
"Can't I just meet you for coffee, do I have to go the meeting?"
"I have to just send this text and then I will turn my phone off and listen"
"Its too echoey at that meeting can we go to another?"
"I hate that meeting cause kids are always running around"
"I don't want anyone to know who I am, I work near that meeting"
"I don't like the chairs they are so uncomfortable?"
"Its too cold at that meeting"
"I don't like that person I don't want to go to that meeting"
I was taught early on excuses to not go to a support meeting for any reason is dangerous. Our addiction will always find an excuse to not do the work or go. Being willing to go to any length for my recovery is a must for long term sobriety. Once I squashed those excuses and made a decision to do what I could in these times to stay connected, stay in the middle, I began to see countless people get clean and sober on a screen! I have seen people show up in places like tiktok showing vulnerability, humility, passion and purpose. I have listened to many new podcasts of people connecting and sharing stories of hope and inspiration! Creative, desperate, loving humans doing everything they can to stay clean and sober who don't know our ways..who haven't experienced recovery community like I had for my 28 years before Covid. Gosh it has been sensational to be witnessing these times, truly! To see so many lives being changed all through a screen?! I feel so hopeful! I feel the stigma is ending! and everything today is and will continue to bring a new light to the disease of addiction/alcoholism like never before! I pray more people recover loud and proud! People are dying and we can make a change. God has certainly been creating so much good out of these dark times!
I often get asked what I listen to, watch, who I follow? So have listed some of my top go to platforms which will help get through 2020 Christmas Clean and Sober. Everything is clickable to help you connect quickly! Since starting the Seek Purpose Podcast & Collective with Brooke @soberwifestyle two years ago I have had a deep fear of writing because I have dyslexia. I hope to continue to walk through those fears and put out more blog posts in 2021. I have found new inspiration and purpose by following so many incredible people! God continues to drive this bus I'm on and just love how he keeps challenging all of us! We are not alone.
Zoom Support Meetings around the world.
MY TOP 5 INSTAGRAM FOLLOWS
1. @pastorrickwarren His messages always includes recovery and God of course:)
2. @gabbeybernstien She is a women, relatable, and real.
3. @soberbabesclub He is so fun, and is doing so much to give back! His Sober T-shirts are giving the sober community a fun way to express themselves proud and cool!
4. @fromthehearth She has incredible content and awesome transformation tools- a little gem of an account! Meditation, workshops! You will love.
5. @celebraterecoveryofficial I love Celebrate Recovery! In fact it is not just for addicts/alcoholics, it is for anyone that has a hurt, habit or hang-up. I quite smoking, overcame body image issues, childhood trauma and so much more from going through the CR program!
MY TOP 10 TIKTOK FOLLOWS:
For Fun, Love and Inspiration
Not in any particular order
1. @laurenashleystudios Lauren will be one of our guests in 2021 on the Podcast! I am over the moon, as I have watched her story on tiktok from the beginning as well. She too is a mom with a special needs child, and her story of loss and grief is riveting. Grieving and being so vulnerable online has helped 100's of thousands!
2. @brittanyjade_Brittany is young single mom of 3, fresh and newly sober who has been sharing with 100's of thousands of people on tiktok her recovery journey and how she is finding purpose.
3. @climb4recoveryc4r62 Travis Gilbert is funny, honest, and passionate about helping others. Just go follow this guy, this whole group is making changes and saving lives!
4. @rehabgirlfriend I just love her, and one of the first ones I really began to follow and giggle with. Her fresh short video's and meme's are so good!
5. @chucknorflis Christian is his name, but he goes by chuck for his tiktok handle. He is in his first year of recovery and early on he posted a video just for fun, and it blew up on tiktok The support he received was incredible he said, and has done all he can to stay in the middle of his recovery, there he says he won't fall off.
6. @bemagik & @tacook02 Brian & Tara are married and have created an entire support nation on tiktok supporting others on the recovery path. They are not affiliated with a recovery program, but proven that connection changes lives. They have found purpose and sobriety is it. Inspiring!
7. @recoverylifeapparel Ashley & Lalita were friends since they were little kids and started a Recovery Apparel Line that has been blowing up all over tiktok. They are driven, passionate and Recovering out loud! They have been fun to connect with!
8. @soberwifestyle Brooke is my work wife and absolutely love who creative and passionate she is! Her sense of humor and compassion, and empathy for others is infectious! She has brought out such positivity in my life and grateful for her. I would not even be writing this blog if it weren't for her! She is a sweetheart and love her to bits!
9. @this_girl_619 Lori was another I began to follow when I first downloaded Tiktok. I actually was shocked how she used such,,well course language..lol and wanted to know more about her recovery story. She has now become a friend, and just love her!
10. @noelnoeyb Noel is someone I would love to have as a guest on our Podcast! She is a lover of Jesus and her tiktok's are refreshing, fun and heartfelt! I can't get enough of her videos.
Top 10 Podcasts I love
@thebubblehour Jean is the Mother of all recovery Podcasters! She is just a mic drop honestly! If you have not listened to her Podcast the Bubble Hour, you are missing out! She has been podcasting for over 7 years. A true icon for me.
2. @jugglingthejenkins Funny! funny! Honest! and another must listen! On all social media platforms, she too is on tiktok, and get excited when I see a new video posted!
3. @talkrecoveryradio These two are also veterans in podcasting in our local area. They have had thousands of guests and bring a current, fresh look at so many issues around recovery. Over 6 years and tons, and tons of listens available! Live also every Thursday.
4. @asobergirlsguide We met Jessica when we first began podcasting and have learned so much from her. She has become such a great friend and love her witty sense of humor and honesty. She attracts so many of the sober curious and helps them begin there journey living sober.
5. @retiredblackoutartist This is a new Podcast I have added to my listen list. She is really good and has great questions, topics and information on all her Episodes!
6. @theothersideofit These two guys, who like to call themselves the tweaker and the junkie are kind of the male version of Brooke and I! LOL I love there episodes and I can't help but get lots of laughs listening to them banter!
7. @sherecovers Always incredible guests with so many take aways of information. The entire she recovers organization has so much to offer in supporting women on the recovery journey. I love there episodes and content.
8. @avaloncenterforwomen Avalon women's center just began Podcasting and is another new one on my listen list, however they are not new to the Recovery scene. I would probably not be sitting here sober if it weren't for my Mom 29 years ago walking through the doors of the Avalon Women's Center in Vancouver. They support women incredibly! This Society has been recreating themselves since Covid and they need to be a follow on every women's social media!
9. @darkpoutine Brooke met Mike at a Podcast fair - he walked over and announced he was in Recovery, I started listening to his Podcast and fell in love! We had him as a guest, and discovered we have the same sobriety year! His incredible story telling and how he brings his recovery experience to these crime drama stories like no one else is doing is another must listen to.
10. @Russellbrand Some love him, some hate him..well..I listen just because I need to keep on top of what my sponsee's listen too. lol.
There have been so many movements that have helped bring a voice to recovery & trauma- these are ones I continue to frequent to find resources and inspiration:
TV & NETFLIX
Greys Anatomy I have heard this has so much recovery, but have not watched yet! On my TV bucket list.
Shameless, 13 Reasons Why, When a Man Loves a Women, White Girl, Flaked, Too Young to Die, Heaven Knows Best, and great true stories like Flight can get us through making another 24 hours clean and sober! And one of my favorite Christmas movies to watch is Family Man, with Nicholas Cage, its just all about what is important in life.
1 to 1 SUPPORT
Even though sponsors are found in almost any 12 step program FREE, there are new ways to access getting support through hiring a paid Sober Coach, or Addiction Counsellor. It is something I have not personally used, but have heard great things about In the Rooms , who are a large organization offering coaches and many other meetings and community online supports. I continue to use a free service for Alcohol and Drug Counselling called Native Courtworkers. They have helped me immensely over the years and still do today. There is no shame in asking for help and working through tough issues with a professional if you have years, or just beginning recovery journey.
FACEBOOK & PINTEREST
Facebook and Pinterest can consume anyone if used too much, however I love to use facebook as my gratitude journal. It time stamps every post and nothing is greater than waking up in one of "those" moods and seeing a past memory pop up! It has put things in perspective for me and helped me get through many tough mornings/days. I have a disease that likes me to forget about just about anything good. My facebook helps keep that monkey off my back! Pinterest I absolutely love as well for getting awesome birthday party ideas, or decoration, organization and find great free downloads that can enhance my recovery program. Things like workbooks, planners, guides all found in a click! Living Sober has brought so many opportunities to create, explore and give back to my family. Finding unique things to do and make on Pinterest has been a blessing!
The support available for anyone new to recovery or just going through emotional lapses sober is more accessible than every before! With the internets algorithm, what we search is what we are fed. This can be an exceptionally great thing for us who are in recovery! All we see and are fed are recovery based things? How can this be a bad thing? No more beer commercials? booze free settings are also available! The silver lining..it is always there.
Today there is so much Purpose living sober! The passion for recovery and the gifts that come from living sober are endless! Zooming into a support meeting is really great! BUT, I do a couple things to ensure I get a message that does not feed my squirrels.
First, when the meeting begins; I set my screen to 'SPEAKER VIEW' I do not have it on Gallery view. I find when someone is sharing, I can see them, I actually really see them! Their homes, where they are living, their eyes, faces, and I can hear them pretty great too! At in person meetings, I did not get that 3D experience. Often I couldn't hear them, or I don't get to see there faces. I love on zoom how we get sneak peaks of their loved ones, their pets, backyards, or even there bathrooms! LOL. I have seen someone share on top of an incredible mountain with a view that was stunning! The gifts of connection have grown and am loving it~
Second, video is ON. What if everyone showed up with blank screens? How inviting would that be for a newcomer? If I showed up to an in person meeting only to see a wall and hearing only voices? Would I have gone back? Lastly, I attend the same support meetings regularly, so I get to have connections. I go early and I stay after to connect with friends and have some fellowship. It is also important to send private messages to any women newcomers, welcoming them and leaving my number or invite to a women's meeting.
This Holiday Season try to find some fresh giggles, some tears too and inspiration from watching your favorite Recovery Influencers on Instagram and TikTok! When you clean your house, do your laundry or go for walks, listen to some Recovery Podcasts. Several times a week fill a screen on zoom making connections and having fellowship. Use that chat, ask for help if you need to. Welcome a newcomer. New Family time ideas and fun can be found by searching Pinterest. Your holiday can be creative, new and refreshing! So many cool games and indoor activities that can be done sober. Watch recovery movies and tv shows to drench yourself with as much recovery as possible. And of course Facebook..use it to journal your joys! your good moments. Make it your gratitude journal, share your answered prayers. This can be your blessing log! And most important reach out to others, send them a personal message on facebook, Instagram, Tiktok or simply pick up the old phone and make a call to someone everyday! We can still serve in ways that will help keep us sober another day and especially through Covid Christmas. Connection is key.
Thank-you to all the incredible humans who continue to recover out loud and share so openly about how you are living with the disease of addiction/alcoholism. Thank-you for your tireless efforts to connect with so many! It is because of you that I have found the courage to do the same! In love and service Suzanne.