Three years ago today, I stopped drinking. It was after an incredibly uninspiring Halloween party — so uninspiring that I’m still surprised that that was it: the last time I drank.
That evening wasn’t a rock-bottom. I’ve had countless “rock-bottoms.” I’d tried to quit drinking, substitute my drinking, limit my drinking, only-drink-one-drink my drinking, text-my-therapist-after-one-drink my drinking many times before. These declarations to change typically came after the nights one might expect (i.e., I never want to have a night like that ever again.) Yet what was distinct about this time, on October 28, 2017, was that I didn’t declare anything. I’d given up on expectations. I wanted to feel better — physically, mentally, and emotionally — and that’s the only declaration I needed to stay sober, if only for those twenty-four hours.
What I’d learn is that life wouldn’t stop when I stopped drinking, and of course, neither did the Holidays, which are so infamously complicated. Drinking may simply feel like par for the course. That makes sense. Drinking was for me, and it is for many! You are not alone. If, however, you’re on the fence of whether to do a clean Halloween, here’s why I think it’s worth it.
Your alcohol-free decision-making is the ultimate superpower.
Of course, with the pandemic happening around us, questions of “do I go out?” or “do I stay in?” might feel less relevant. This year, your options may feel particularly limited. Nonetheless, we’re still confronted with: do I have a drink? What should we do tonight? Without drinking, I can make decisions about my night with certainty. “What do I want?” “What do I need?” and “What do I do?” can all be answered — authentically. Hey, I don’t want to go to the Virtual Village Halloween Day Parade, or hey, I definitely do want to watch what’s on Syfy’s 31 Days of Halloween. I assure you, whatever celebratory options come your way, your alcohol-free discernment will be a superpower.
Your costume won’t lose its luster.
My final, pre-sobriety Halloween costume was Michelle Graham as Felicity Shagwell from Austin Powers. Naturally, by the end of the evening, my shoes were off, my hair poof had deflated, and I started referring to myself as “a go-go girl.” It just so happened that last Halloween I dressed up as Felicity Shagwell, that’s right, once more. Only this time, nothing missed in action. Now, as it happens, last Halloween, I dressed up, again, as Felicity Shagwell, and nothing fell by the wayside. Boots stayed on. Hair stayed poofed. And, I remember seeing Bjork from across the dancefloor. Repeat: Bjork. Dancing. Next to me. And I remember it.
Relish in all-you-can-eat candy-eating
Perhaps you’re like me and were the kid who divided their candy haul into categories: snickers bites, snickers bars, kit-kat singles, the giveaway pile (almond joy, peanut m&ms, gumballs), etc. Growing up, I broke down Halloween into two clear, equally essential factions: 50% costume, 50% candy. Shouldn’t it always be this way?
So, when Halloween comes around, I enjoy every single bite from every single bag I pick up for myself at CVS. Who doesn’t want sweetness and nostalgia, all in one wrapper? In my sobriety, I have reframed the idea of treating myself. Instead of booze, it’s the simplicity of drugstore candy, good music, and great company. And trust me, with time, it does the job. No tricks about it.
The bottom line is, spending Holidays alcohol-free can be spooky. Your first AF Halloween may have its challenges, and that’s a part of the process. Sure, my first Halloween sober was different — I stayed in with friends, watched Harry Potter IV, ordered artichoke pizza, and demolished a few bags of candy. But it was like it was as a kid, and how remarkable is it that I’ve gotten to reclaim that? I can choose who I want to be and how I’d like to spend it. Sobriety gives me that freedom.
I now savor the days designed for fun. And hey, I got to savor my first sighting of Bjork. And now you Possibly Maybe can too.