10 Tips to Avoid Extra Drama on Thanksgiving
- You’re not feeling well.
- You want to get ahead of traffic.
- You need to get the kids home because … (You can basically fill in the blank here).
- You have a ton of laundry to do.
- You want to go home.
- You have to go binge-watch Orange Is The New Black on Netflix.
- You don’t owe anyone an explanation. You’re a grown-ass-adult, and you’re free to do whatever you want. BOOM.
5. Make plans to meet up with friends after.
If you’re not feeling 100% confident, but can’t get out of it, it’s always a great idea to have plans after. This provides you with good reason to leave early if you need to, but also may help you avoid drinking or use – even if you really want to—because you’re accountable to those friends, and you know they’ll miss you if you don’t show up.
6. Have your friends on speed-dial, and don’t be afraid to lock yourself in the bathroom.
Calling people you trust with your recovery is never a bad idea regardless of what day it is. During holidays though, I find it’s much easier to ensure contact with people when I give them a heads up that I may be calling in a crisis situation. This gives them the opportunity to tell me that they actually won’t be available, so I can find someone else, or invites them to keep their cell near by.
7. Be kind to you.
Look, I know family time can be difficult—even under the greatest and most supportive circumstances – and even after years into recovery. It’s okay. Please know you’re okay and that there’s nothing wrong with you for not wanting to sit around a very large table and be interrogated by people you maybe haven’t seen since last year. It’s okay if you don’t want to share, even the great things that have been going on, with those in your life that might remember when things weren’t as awesome. It does not make you a bad person to take a time out and care for yourself.
8. Keep in mind recovery is a daily process
My personal recovery is a part of me I have to nurture daily. Some days I need to pay more attention to it than others. It’s kind of like having a cat. When I’m showing it constant attention, it may appear not to need me. The more I ignore it or pretend it’s insignificant to my daily life, the more vulnerable and needy it might get.
Be aware of your triggers, and the patterns of your past. If every Thanksgiving you do the exact same thing and it lands you in a position you don’t want to be in this year, change the plan.
Even if it’s not a perfect plan, I promise it will allow you one step further to where you want to be in your recovery—whatever that looks like.
9. Be prepared to forgive yourself if you don’t have a great day.
No one is perfect, and no plan can be 100% fool-proof; especially when family is involved. If you say or do something you regret, it is possible the sun will rise the following day allowing you the opportunity for progress. Did I mention holidays are hard? Good. Please be gentle with you.
10. Do the best you can with the tools you have
At the beginning and end of each day, all we have we have is our best. Today’s best might look different from yesterday’s, and tomorrow’s best might be even more promising than today’s. Try to be patient with yourself and allow yourself the opportunity and grace to make mistakes and learn from them. You’re awesome.
And if the next day you feel you made the wrong Thanksgiving decision, rest assured, there will be another one coming around the corner before you know it.
Julie Maida has been in abstinence-based recovery since May 2, 2000. She is fiercely determined to advocate for and connect ALL women with the appropriate support and resources necessary to achieve their personal recovery goals. She writes about mothering with mental illness at juliemaida.me.