american thanksgiving

one minute message about not having an ‘off’ button for booze…

This one-minute message is actually a teaser from taken from a longer, one-hour live group call that I did for American Thanksgiving in 2014. To hear the whole thing, and download the entire audio, go here.

Comments from people on the live call:

Justme (day 4): “Your podcasts help me so much.  It’s as though you’re in my tiny, dysfunctional brain and you’re showing me a way out.  Thank you.”

Troxy (day 38): “Today I am grateful to you. you are the voice that calms me, the friend that understands me, and the mentor that gently keeps my sober car moving in the right direction. You have found what feeds your soul, and this sober community is so so blessed to have you with us on our journey.”

Daisy (day 53): “Its like you speak a different language listening to you talk. Its like not being alone anymore … unless you find someone who talks the same language, you’re alone. So, thank you a heap and a half. I knew you were anonymous, I guess I didn’t realise that you were doing it all on your own, when you said it I just thought wow. Not in a gushy way, just in a fucking hell, it really can be done kind of way.”

One-hour thanksgiving call here



Dysfunctional Family Bingo

ok, so here’s the bingo game. Instead of getting all involved in everyone’s business (“i take care of me, you take care of you”), instead of feeling personally wounded at each critique (“what do you mean you don’t like homemade cranberry sauce and you prefer canned”), and instead of getting all twisted around in family dynamics (“she sits beside him because he ignores how much she drinks”)… yes, instead of all that, how about we go into these events as an observer.

Thanksgiving Dinner. You’re only there for a short time, and your job is to take notes, observe, and record behaviours (like a social anthropologist).

To make it fun, during your Thanksgiving Dinner on Thursday, see how many of these items you can spot during the meal.

Resetting the table because it’s not done right
“My pie isn’t like this…” (food critique)
Bragging about money, bonus, or expensive vacation
“So when are you going to get married?”
Feeding the dog from the dinner table

Unannounced vegetarian suddenly mentions they don’t eat meat

“Are you pregnant yet?”
Asleep in the chair (bonus points if it’s at the dinner table)

Spilled alcohol

Nose picking
“I don’t eat that”
Illegal drug use
Leaving table to smoke while others are still eating
Racial slur

Swearing in front of children

Heated religious discussion
Texting at the table
Something gets broken

For one day only (Thursday, November 28th), you can post here any time you see any of these bingo items. Post a comment here or send me an email. Don’t get caught posting, though, or you’ll have to check off one of the boxes for yourself. You might only witness 3 or 4 of these, but you might see all 20 depending on the size of the gathering. Happy Turkey Day.


how to cope with thanksgiving? reach out before you feel too crazy

there’s this big american holiday coming up. thanksgiving is centred (usually) on food, family, and togetherness. it often involves travel, with a dollop of american football thrown in for good measure (the sport where they run at each other and throw bodies to the ground, and they’re dressed a bit like water buffalo).

You? You’re not drinking this year. This might be your first sober Thanksgiving. how to cope? yes, let’s brainstorm.

I’ll start:

1. advance warning: If you can gently let people know in advance that you’re not drinking, you may find it easier. You can say something like “i’m bringing salad and cranberry juice since i’m not drinking these days, can i get anything for you?”

2. replacement drink: then bring the above mentioned cranberry juice. duh.

3. story: have a version of the story ready that you can tell. You can borrow Caro’s version: “i’ve found that alcohol – no matter how little i drink – makes me feel depressed and melancholy. so i’m taking a break.”

4. arrive late / leave early: this is my favourite advice for all things that make you twitch. you can ‘have another stop you need to make’ or ‘have a headache’.  if you start to feel weird, then make a graceful exit. even a non-graceful exit.

5. sober support: if you start to feel wingy, you can text / call some sober supports. you can go into the closet and log onto the sober blogs. you can go in the backyard and listen to an audio.

6. reach out before you feel too crazy: honestly, the sooner you reach out for some kind of sober reassurance, the better.  email before you leave the house, listen to audios on the drive there, and log into the blog upon arrival 🙂 ok, email whenever you want, but you do NOT have to wait until you’re desperate to say “i’m feeling weird about this.”  If you’re home alone for thanksgiving and you’re feeling weird or wingy or spinny or freaky — same rules apply!

7. stay in a hotel: you’re not required to stay overnight in someone’s house. you can (suddenly) be a light sleeper who needs to stay in a hotel just to get a good night’s sleep … This is me. i never stay in someone’s home. i always want to have a place where i can ‘retreat’ at the end of the visiting. i need alone time.

8. play dysfunctional family bingo … I’ll do a whole post on this tomorrow.  It’s sooo much fun and anyone can play!

9. more ideas? post a comment below and share you ideas on how to deal with thanksgiving.

from my inbox:

Brett: “I’ve realized that I have withdrawn so much, and become so scared of so many things, because I have been keeping this secret. That makes it even harder to do some of the things I know will help, such as exercise. I have been working so hard to stay in my boozy comfort zone and to protect my drinking that I lost all motivation to do any of the other things that I love.  Getting the motivation back and overcoming the fear of being ‘found out’ are going to be the hardest things for me.”

me: “here’s what I say. you go from today forward. you don’t have to socialize and you don’t have to tell anybody. you just have to work (as little as possible), eat take out, drink tea, and go to bed early.  the rest of it can just wait.  Honestly. the first 30 days is about tucking yourself into a safe and protective space and just waiting, bobbing along like a cork on the water. not swimming, not drowning. just bobbing. motivation comes later. ease and relaxing both come later. for now, just do this thing. this one thing. what worked for me, really and honestly, was going to bed as early as 8 pm just so the fucking day would be finished! every day forward is a day away from that time ‘back there’ and into a new time ‘over here’ where you get to be somebody new, a better version of you. many hugs from me.”