Booze: keep it or leave it? It's a question I had flirted with over the past several years. Despite the gaslighting our culture extends to the joys of drinking, I've always known, deep down in my liver, that alcohol (ethanol) is harmful to my body, mind, and spirit. Just looking at the chemistry and the math (or enduring a hangover) told me that, but the vigorous cultural branding of booze and saturated social patterns kept me stuck in the habit. There are even medical studies that reinforce the fallacy that alcohol is beneficial to health—so what's a thinking drinker to do? I'm happy to say that booze and I finally broke up over a year ago—my only regret is that we didn't do it sooner.
Booze for me was a fun habit—most of my social outings involved a glass or three of wine and it was always cool: no rock bottom moment or embarrassing epiphanies in public to startle me into quitting. I was a social drinker for forty years, and I really, really enjoyed it. I even had a modest wine cellar and belonged to a wine club—surely something that can be considered a hobby couldn't be bad for me—right?
‘Can I drive home from book club safely if I have two glasses of wine?’
Five clues combined to create the perfect storm for my quitting booze:
#1: I was finally through the last stages of an interminable menopause and as my active but aging body shifted, I started to notice that my four-nights-a-week wine habit was not serving me, or my brain. Stubborn back fat, daily brain fog, and regular dehydration were making me feel old.
#2: I read a book called This Naked Mind by Annie Grace and a new consciousness began to creep into my everyday thinking. As a result, I had grown plain weary of thinking about drinking. ‘How much was too much?’ ‘Why couldn't I lose that irritating six pounds no matter how much I exercised?’ ‘Can I drive home from book club safely if I have two glasses of wine?’ ‘If I'm such a health nut why am I putting ethanol in my body on a regular basis?’
#3: I started to get very picky about what made me feel icky. I didn’t want to numb and dumb conversations and emotions anymore, I craved more authentic, soulful exchanges with others, and with myself.
#4: I fell seriously in love with ginger kombucha, the fermented tea, and honestly prefer its' flavor and benefits. It is my drink of choice!
#5: My desire to ditch drinking had reached an apex, and then a health scare tossed me through the goalposts. Five weeks of acute vertigo—an epic wipeout—convinced me beyond a shadow of a doubt that I would never consciously put my body in any kind of deficit situation ever again. The grace to say farewell to booze lead me through a door, and when I looked back, that door had vanished.
I can say unequivocally that I live alcohol-free with zero effort. No meetings or support groups, no cravings or daydreams, no awkward moments of choice making, no mooning for the past. Nothing. I know that kind of bold statement might make you incredulous. It's a huge mental and emotional jump, and my frame of reference can be polarizing and paralyzing for drinkers vs. non-drinkers. But you see, once the bell of consciousness has been rung, the brain can't really un-ring it. The bell here is that alcohol is ethanol, the same stuff I fill my car up with at the gas station. It's been processed to taste good and packaged to be sexy and appealing, but essentially, we are talking about social drinking as a systematic program of self-poisoning. I can't un-know this, and now that I do, I can't allow myself to repeat such a self-destructive pattern. I know what you are thinking: ‘I really love it!’ ‘I just do it to relax’ or ‘Kimmie, you used to be so fun!’ You know what? I used to say these same things—until my consciousness evolved.
‘All social drinkers are on a spectrum of use and facility…’
What I've learned is that my generation (and my children's) was brought up in a pro-drinking culture where nearly every occasion included social drinking. Not only were we never, ever taught outright that alcohol is a dangerously addictive substance or about the ironies of drinking (drink poison to feel good?), we were encouraged to drink, and being a good drinker was considered a positive social asset. Language is critical here. We got brainwashed by the alcohol industry and others that there were only two camps: the happy drinkers or the alcoholics. If you expressed any sort of issue or misgiving about booze you'd be branded as a derelict and a loser and sentenced to daily meetings. The thinking was very black and white. Nobody wanted to be in the alcoholic camp, so we became proficient, enthusiastic, social drinkers.
In reality, very few people are actually alcoholics (only about 10%) and that is another wholehearted discussion not covered here. All social drinkers are on a spectrum of use and facility, meaning there is a whole range of drinkers out there and everyone is at their own unique spot on the slippery slope of addiction—one size definitely does not fit all. The good news is that it’s a lot easier to quit than we have been brainwashed into believing. For some people, they hit the thin edge of the wedge–some kind of tipping point–and quitting feels instant and easy. This is sort of what happened to me, after flirting with the idea for 20 years! For others, it’s more like learning the crow yoga pose: you try and you try to tip into place and you fall on your face, and you try some more, and fall some more, and you keep doing yoga and then, one day: Pow! After lots of failed efforts, one day you can just do the damn Crow pose and NOT fall on your face. And YES! you can do that Crow Pose forevermore. Learning new neural pathways is a journey of process, practice, and patience over time. Sharing the journey with others provides powerful inspiration.
So, I am just scratching this very complex subject with today's post. I'm going to write about it some more, for sure. For now, please just sit with what I've shared. It's taken all of my courage to do so. Please— no need to defend, or argue, or complain. This is my story and my path and I'm on it for myself. I'm not out to attack or convince anyone of anything. I'm just happy that I've found some answers to some things that never made much sense to me. I'm feeling blessed for this state of grace and delighted that I can finally pay attention to the clues that the universe has been sharing with me all along.
I’d love to hear from you—feel free to send your comments to me!