One of the biggest trends I notice in the two ethanol cessation communities I visit is that there’s a lingering feeling of loss, of coping with the stress, of yearning, even grief, of stopping using ethanol to deaden senses and garner a feeling of belonging in a world totally brainwashed about its benefits. These communities offer great support and camaraderie, but also can unwittingly reinforce cultural myths about ethanol cessation.
We tend to feel this sense of loss because, even if we’ve been lucky and conscious enough to see through all of the illusions, society and the ethanol culture have put us in the position of outsiders. So, it is up to us to go boldly beyond the confines of popular myth into a new frontier of aware inclusion.
I don’t use the words sober, sobriety, recovery or alcohol because these words promote preconceived notions and misconceptions about people who have been addicted to ethanol and have chosen to end that addiction.
As we all know, common popular beliefs keep certain people, whether drinking, not drinking, “relapsed” or “recovering” or anything in between in a segregated “us and them” divided society.
Oh, you don’t drink? You must have a problem. I don’t trust people who don’t drink. Teetotalers are boring. I used to think these things, so I know what I’m up against.
Fact is, those of us who have decided not to drink anymore, no longer have that “problem.” Our only problem is navigating a convoluted paradoxical paradigm of disease mentality juxtaposed with warm and fuzzy, generations-deep heritage and propaganda that has trained us to believe we are missing out on something if we choose health and clarity over ethanol consumption.
And in reality, rather than being left out, we are experiencing the world more fully and with more awareness than we ever did as drinkers. We have stopped deadening our senses – we are actually more included than our drinking counterparts.
That said, we need to realize fully that we are not missing out on anything, and we need to take steps to live it up! Attitude really is everything when it comes to this business, and we need to celebrate the fact that we are clear headed and enjoying ourselves so much more fully than those around us who have chosen to become inebriated and disconnected in the name of fun.
For me, turning away from the habit of boozing and schmoozing with my husband every cocktail hour for decades was the biggest challenge. Could I schmooze without the booze? Would I be turned off by his smell of beer? Would I feel left out while he got his evening fix? Yada yada yada, the ego is a stupid animal that wants you to be unhappy and will find a thousand ways to create anxiety and drama that does not exist in the present moment. Be aware of this. It is the sole reason that you would ever experience dissatisfaction or that feeling of loss at not imbibing. It is false, and the first step toward living it up, is to realize this. When the ego barges in demanding your dissatisfaction, meet it with consciousness and clarity. When seen through, it doesn’t stand a chance, and that’s something to celebrate.
Thanksgiving and Christmas came and went, and I toasted with my ethanol-free drinks, and I was so happy to enjoy the company and make the meals, play with my grandchildren, and wake up the next day feeling like a million bucks. What’s not to celebrate? At every gathering there was at least one other person besides me who was a non-drinker of ethanol. We laughed and schmoozed smarter and better! Where ever did we get the idea we need a sense-deadening poison to celebrate life?
By stopping poisoning myself I am celebrating this life in every moment. I can taste flavors better than ever. Intimacy is more intimate. Connections are more connected. I hoist my switchflipper to you in celebration. Live it up! Happy New Year!