5 Ways to Survive Valentine’s Day Sober


By Peggy Spear

Original Source: soberinfo.com

Each time I see a Valentine’s Day ad on television, I want to throw my bottle of Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider at the screen.

Valentine’s Day — where love is celebrated — can be tricky enough for those people not in relationships, but even harder for those in recovery. Since when did it become necessary to show your love with champagne?

Well, if I’m honest with myself, for centuries. Sparkling wine has been a part of celebrations in Europe since at least the French Revolution, when the drink became part of secular rituals that emerged to replace earlier religious rituals, according to Kolleen Guy, a professor of history at the University of Texas at San Antonio and author of “When Champagne Became French” (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003).

“In a secular society, we want to mark both the joy and sanctity of the occasion,” Guy said. “Champagne does this symbolically, but also visually, since it overflows in abundance and joy.”

Well that’s nice and all, but champagne is also a poison to those suffering from alcoholism — and yet who still want to celebrate the day.

My husband used to bring home a magnum of champagne for me for VD, and I’m ashamed to admit I showed it more love than I showed him.

Now, in recovery, I have to rethink what Valentine’s Day means. It’s not an opportunity to drink copious amounts of champagne one day a year. It’s a day that celebrates not bubbly, but love.

I’ve come to the conclusion that it is a day or time of year to truly show love and compassion for those people in my life who make it worth living. But now, I’ve added someone else to the list: me. Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to show myself some love. And I don’t need champagne to do it.

Here are five ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day without the bubbly, and to make it truly memorable:

1 – If you are in a relationship, give of yourself. Create a special meal for your loved one, sans the champagne. You can add a special non-alcoholic drink with sparkling water and juice if you still like the bubbly celebration, and chances are, if your partner is a “normie,” they won’t care. Or, if you are, like me — a walking kitchen disaster — take the initiative to make reservations at a restaurant you both love, and bring your partner there. And pay for it. If you are single, the same principle applies — treat yourself to a special dinner, with or without friends. You are worth it.

2 – Get out in nature. Valentine’s Day comes at the time of year where, in many locations, the wildflowers and blossoms are beginning to bloom. Take a hike and enjoy the beautiful early-spring surroundings. If it’s raining, wear a coat and enjoy the lushness that the winter waters have brought: many hiking trails pass by flowing waterfalls this time of year. If it’s just too cold and snowy to get outside, find your favorite indoor mall and use the excuse to walk around and purchase something for yourself.

3 – See the last sentence above. Whether you are in a relationship or not, buy yourself a Valentine’s Day present — something you don’t “need,” but want. This doesn’t have to be expensive, it can run the gamut from a candle or bouquet of flowers to a diamond necklace. But again, celebrate you this Valentine’s Day.

4 – Be a kid again and give out Valentines to all those people who you cherish in your life. This can range from your family and close friends (even your pets!), to all the members of your AA home group. Give a little love to the people who help you stay sober and sane throughout the year.

5 – Remember that Valentine’s Day is just a day. Cynics call it a “Hallmark Holiday,” and there is some truth to that, when you see the commercialization and jacked-up prices of flowers and chocolates. If the idea of celebrating gets you down, don’t try to “pull yourself up by the bootstraps.” Acknowledge and honor your feelings, whether they are sadness, anger or disgust at yourself for past behaviors. Once we can let go of those feelings, we might be able to watch Valentine’s Day commercials without ruining our TVs.

Peggy Spear is a San Francisco Bay Area-based newspaper editor and writer who prefers chocolate over champagne these days.