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Family Gatherings and Sobriety: How to Avoid Your Triggers

Everyone gets so excited about the upcoming milestones that are celebrated this time of year.  Weddings, graduations, proms, and other occasions where family will gather can be wonderful, except when they aren’t.   And often, they aren’t when the person in recovery shows up.  Whether they mean to or not, family have a way of pushing buttons, bringing up old hurtful memories, or trying to trap the person in recovery into having a slip up to test their resolve.

Healing riffs with family is often key to the maintaining sobriety, but you’ve got to know when to make those amends, and when to stand back and just enjoy the moment while the spotlight shines on the honoree.  There are ways to get through family gatherings without causing a disruption.  Here are a few.

First, if you don’t really have to go, don’t.  If you know there will be someone there with whom you still have a rough patch that could flare up, it might be better to send a meaningful expression of congratulations on the occasion instead.  Sending a gift, touching video or family representative to express your sentiments could potentially take pressure off a situation that should be joyous.  You’d be there in spirit and everything can proceed as planned. 

One way to do this is to go online and shop for a Groupon for Edible Arrangements and send a lovely bouquet with a note.  They offer beautiful gifts for all occasions and will make sure your gift is delivered on time. Groupon offers special deals of up to 20% off their most popular arrangements and each Edible Arrangement makes such a beautiful statement on any table.

If your presence is required, be sure to have your support system in place and talk to your sponsor or mentor before you attend the event.  They can be a reassuring voice and you can check in with them if you need support.  For former and active service members, this can be a particularly emotional time.  Thoughts might loop through your mind of past slip ups, of buddies lost, of parents gone.  Reaching out to your sponsor and having an open dialogue about how you are feeling can help you gauge your readiness to face the family and friends who will want to see you.

Go and enjoy yourself.  You’re working the steps, you know the work you have to do and what must be avoided to maintain your routine.  Chances are you’ll find the environment very supportive.  After all, unless it’s about you, you’re there to be about it.  Make sure you show up with the strength, courage and fortitude to acknowledge the guest of honor and yourself.