It’s not always easy to decide how to celebrate a soberversary. Outside the recovery world, celebrations often involve alcohol. And most formal celebrations of accomplishments acknowledge a group—for instance, graduation ceremonies. Sobriety is such an individual milestone.
With the pandemic, there are added obstacles to any celebration. We can’t see most of our friends or family in person. That forces us to get creative about how we honor milestones. Anyone who is in a 12-step fellowship can still celebrate by sharing at a meeting on or around their sobriety date. But you may want to do a celebration with friends or family outside of meetings. Or if you aren’t in a 12-step program, you may be itching to share this milestone with those in your life.
As someone who hasn’t gone the AA route, I have to think of what to do for my five-year soberversary on August 1st. I don’t want to think too far ahead about how things will be then. But even if we’re still in our homes, I’ll be celebrating—probably in a few different ways. Since we have to think a little more about how to honor milestones when we’re sheltering in place, I’ve reflected on at-home soberversaries.
If you are a social celebrator, it might be a good idea to reach out to some friends before the date and plan something. You could have a party through video. Video calls have become a normal part of everyday life for many of us, but there are ways to make this particular video call special. You could get dressed up. Some people have been putting on fancy clothes to watch live theater or have indoor dates with their live-in partner. Especially now that we’ve been sheltering in place for months, dressing up can make a video call feel more like a party.
Everyone feels differently about what they’re comfortable drinking. Things like sparkling apple cider can feel celebratory, but it doesn’t have to resemble opening a bottle of champagne to be festive. Anything you consider a treat—ice cream, a particular seltzer flavor—can count.
Think of things you like to do with friends and see if they can be done virtually. A lot of activities you might not expect to translate can work through video. There is a chrome extension for Netflix that allows you to have a movie night with friends. You could have a video dance party. Apps like Zoom allow you to switch the background so it looks like you’re in a club—a little silly festivity touch.
My partner and I had been talking about taking a weekend vacation for my soberversary this year. I saw online that one couple—who had a beach trip canceled—put a beach scene on their computer screen and lounged in front of it. The Internet has photos of almost any part of the world imaginable. We were just going to drive to the nearest city—but now we can “go” anywhere. It’s not the same, but it’s something to think about if you want to get creative.
For instance, if you like sitting with your feet in the ocean but can’t get to a beach, you can put your feet in the bath in front of a beach landscape. At a different time this might sound kind of pathetic and sad—maybe it still does—but given our current situation, it might be absurd enough to make you smile.
Perhaps you see your soberversary as a time for solo reflection. Journaling isn’t for everyone, but it’s one concrete way to reflect. You might give yourself prompts like “5 things I’ve learned in 5 years sober” or “skills I hope to learn in my next year of recovery.” You could also draw, crochet, or engage in another hobby. Activities like these allow space for meditative thinking. You could also go for a walk—always a good way to reset and reflect.
Even if you don’t normally celebrate soberversaries, I think it’s an important time to at least acknowledge it. Being sober is always a gigantic accomplishment. Being sober through a pandemic is on a whole other level. Just taking a moment to say, “Hey, I did this!” is a nice thing to do for yourself.
If you struggling to get or stay sober during this pandemic, there is hope. Amatus Recovery Centers is open and here for you throughout the crisis, with hospital-grade sanitization and telehealth options so you can feel safe getting treatment. At our facilities across the country, we provide high-quality treatment for substance use and mental health disorders. Our staff—many of whom have been recovery themselves—will help you build the tools to thrive in long-term recovery. Call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.