Summer barbecues can be a challenge when you are going through recovery. You don’t want to isolate yourself from those who may enjoy a few drinks in the sun, but you don’t want to be pressured to join in either. By thinking ahead and making some plans, you can participate with your family and friends without compromising your sobriety.
Have an Exit Strategy
There is no shame in planning an easy escape if things get too stressful or old friends get out of hand. Try these solutions to ensuring you will be able to leave when the time is right for you.
Don’t become the designated driver. Your old buddies may think that now that you are enjoying sober living that you can fill the role of designated driver. Make it clear at the beginning of the night that you aren’t willing to play chauffeur if your buddies get out of hand and aren’t able to drive themselves home. You can call them a cab, though.
Don’t offer rides to and from the event. This sets the stage for you to become stuck and unable to leave if things become stressful. Arriving solo, with a sober buddy or with someone who won’t mind ducking out early if you begin to feel uncomfortable gives you the freedom to leave when you’re ready.
Set a time limit. It is perfectly acceptable to set a time limit for your stay at the barbecue. Let others know at the onset that you only have an hour (or two) and then you must be on your way. You don’t need to explain why, but if you feel more secure with a justified reason, make plans that require you to leave at a specific time. Meeting an old friend for coffee, picking up your dry cleaning or simply getting back to some work waiting at home are all legitimate reasons to leave the party.
Go Easy on Yourself
Gatherings of families and friends have a way of taking on a life of their own. If the barbecue suddenly takes a turn that makes you uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to make an early exit. Give yourself permission to consider your needs first and don’t let anyone make you feel guilty. There’s nothing wrong with admitting that you’re not ready to be around that kind of environment. Recovery takes time, and you don’t want to jeopardize anything by putting yourself in an uncomfortable position.
Everyone deserves a reward for a job well done. Plan an activity to help you unwind and relax when you get home. Reading a good book, such as Mindfulness and the Twelve Steps, watching a favorite movie or spending time journaling are all great ways to reward yourself at the end of the day. They also give you something to look forward to and will take your mind off any difficult moments at the party.