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[ Opinion ]

How To Stay Sober in the Aftermath of the Election

There was nothing I wished for more the morning after the election than the ability to escape reality. For the first time in a long time, I wished I could drink. I could not accept this fate, what was happening. You always hear the words “love will prevail,” and “everything will work out in the end,” but in this case, I was left feeling utterly defeated. Love didn’t prevail and what’s right didn’t win over what’s wrong. Racism and hate beat love, and that’s a tough pill to swallow.A week ago, some of us received a heart crushing loss in the form of the 2016 Presidential election. Hillary Clinton, an overqualified life-long public servant, lost to Donald Trump, a failed businessman who has zero experience in politics and built his campaign on racism and hatred. Yes, I took this election season extremely personally, because for me it was. This loss has taken a toll on me and has really tested my sobriety.

For those of us who were so deeply involved in this election, or will be directly affected by a Trump presidency, and have the added pressure of staying sober, it’s a difficult time. After expressing my feelings deeply on my personal blog, I’ve realized that there are some people out there who are still grieving and still struggling to stay sober through this devastating news. My message to you is that you’re not alone. There are a lot of us who are feeling the exact same way, and it will take time to heal.

Poisoning yourself won’t fix anything.

Here are some tips to help you stay sober in the aftermath of this destructive election season.

1. Turn off the TV and the social media notifications
I don’t recommend doing this forever because the news is important and I think everyone needs to stay updated on what’s going on in the world. But right now, if you’re like me, you can’t even hear the words “President-Elect Trump” without wanting to hit someone or pick up a drink. Step away from the television and the computer. Sometimes, self-care is turning on Hallmark Christmas movies and reality TV instead.

2. Stick to a rigid schedule
For the first two days after the election, I wanted to stay in bed and cry and I did that for a while, but it’s not a long-term solution. My recommendation is to stick to a rigid schedule. Get up, go to the gym, go to work, attend meetings, do yoga. Do whatever healthy things you desire and schedule out your time. The busier you stay, the better chances you have of not letting grief and rage consume you.

3. Go back to basics
The first days after the election felt like the first days of sobriety for me. I was scared, upset, and overcome with grief. I was confused and hurt. I had no motivation to do anything. I thought to myself, OK, if I was getting sober again what would I do? Reach out for help. Call my sponsor. Talk to my loved ones. Put one foot in front of the other and just worry about the 24 hours in front of me. In difficult times, it helps to go back to basics. Never forget how far you’ve come and where it is that you’re going.

4. Take your anger out in a healthy way
If you don’t let your feelings out, they will stay bottled up inside. Bottled-up feelings can drive you to drink or use. We must be proactive in dealing with these feelings. That doesn’t mean we should actively avoid them, but there are ways to take out your anger in a healthy way. For me, doing CrossFit, playing soccer, and reading a good book do the trick. For you, it might be something different. Your coping mechanism does not have to be alcohol and drugs. Substances rob us of the present and trick us into believing our problems are gone when in reality we’ve only covered them with a thin Band-Aid.

5. Talk to someone
I cannot stress enough that you need to ask for help when you need it. I am guilty of not doing this. But last week, I made a call to my mother at 8 a.m. on the morning after the election because I could barely keep it together. Sometimes the best thing we can do is hear someone else’s comforting words or advice. At the very least, we can openly express our pain to someone we trust and receive empathy. It’s reassuring to know that we aren’t alone in our times of struggle and that’s why connection with others is so important—whether in grief, in sobriety, or both.

6. Stay true to yourself
Expressing my thoughts about drinking after the election, I got a ton of great advice from my readers. One suggestion was not to let the President-Elect rob me of my sobriety, which is something I’ve worked hard for and that I’m proud of. That reader is right. Even in times of darkness and pain, I have to stay true to myself and my identity as a sober woman. To let someone else steal my light would be a decision all my own.

7. Get involved
After we grieve and feel our feelings, we must get to work. Sobriety is an integral part of my moral values. My values are deeply related to the political climate and world around us. What I’ve learned is that I cannot be silent. I will continue to use my voice and platform to promote the highest good and seek love and equality in this world. Being of service to others is a part of my sobriety and it makes me feel good. It also creates good energy. I encourage everyone to find what makes your heart happy and makes waves in society by helping others. It helps keep me sober every day.

Sobriety has been awfully hard this last week, but we’ve made it. We’re one week out, with four years to go. This has been one of the hardest things I’ve dealt with in sobriety and I know that there will be many more struggles down the road. I take this experience as a lesson and a test. I will fight on, for my sobriety, my sanity, and for everyone else out there who needs my help. We’re all in this together, folks. Let’s stay sober so we have a fighting chance at surviving and thriving.