I live in the heart of arguably one of the greatest wine regions in the world. I have an enviable collection of wine, I am surrounded by wine consumers, winemakers, wine industry professionals of all kinds. I serve wine enthusiasts, I speak wine language passionately, I have a gifted palate. So how and why did I decide to give up booze? My WHY is integrity.

I was not feeling in integrity with myself. I was on that horrific downward slope that addiction creates, unable to motivate myself to get the things done that needed getting done. I had no spark to reignite my beloved business. I seldom dragged myself outside for exercise, which was always an enormous passion and large part of my life, and when I did get outside it was without much enthusiasm. I wasn’t being kind to my body as I poured poison in and followed drinking with devouring high calorie, unhealthy foods.

I finally woke up to the fact that I was letting myself live in a way that was destructive to my heart and soul. I have always, from the time I was just a wee one, been a joyful, upbeat, exceptionally positive person. The glass has always been half full from my perspective. But alcohol addiction was a very dark cloud that kept me from seeing and feeling my inner light, my natural sunshine. It is so easy, when in a state of despair and downward spiral, to think about wanting to saying goodbye to the pain, to escape it permanently. I totally get why people end their lives when the pain they are experiencing feels like too much to take. Fortunately, I could never follow through with saying goodbye to this world no matter how desperate or hopeless I feel, partly because I have so much unfinished business left in this lifetime, and mostly because I have a family that I dearly love and I could never hurt them in that way. But I do understand how and why a person arrives at that place of giving up. I get it! I do understand feeling hopeless. It’s unbearable. I had to acknowledge to myself that the only way my life was going to get better was for me to be willing to quit imbibing the substance that was pulling me down, down, down. I wanted to return to living in integrity with myself, get back to feeling good, loving myself, feeling full of inspiration, and passion. I wanted to return to living in integrity.

Integrity to me means doing the right thing when no one is looking: scrubbing disgusting toilets at work because it matters to me that customers have a good impression and the best experience possible when they come to our venue. Integrity is me doing my best at whatever I am doing at the time, knowing my best will vary from day to day. Integrity is not gossiping or spreading rumors about others. Integrity is being honest, no matter how hard it may be. Integrity is living so wide open that I don’t have any secrets to hide. Integrity is me being vulnerable, sharing my soul, being all of myself with you. Integrity is living by The Four Agreements, which are:

  1. Be Impeccable With Your Word. That means we don’t spread rumors or judge others, say things behind their backs, or practice negative self (hate) talk with ourselves.
  2. Don’t Take Anything Personally. What others say about me is their stuff, not mine.
  3. Don’t Make Assumptions. We just don’t know the whole truth of the story unless we ask.
  4. Always Do Your Best. With kindness, and intention, forgiveness and patience.

Integrity has taken me a lifetime to understand and practice. Integrity is worth pursuing, because the rewards are endless. Feeling good about myself brings me a level of happiness like nothing else. Living in integrity is a journey, one that has no finish line. Sobriety to me is full of integrity. I am in integrity with my heart, my soul, my passion, my conscience, my priorities. I am doing what I need to do, getting the things done that need doing. My integrity is intact.

If you are struggling with the idea of quitting booze, there are a multitude of wonderful resources to help. One that has been a life jacket for me is Annie Grace’s THIS NAKED MIND. Specifically, her research on the science of addiction is what made everything click for me. She started a program called The Alcohol Experiment which is totally free and can absolutely change your mind about drinking.

Published by Judes

After working decades in Hospitality and businesses related to drinking, I am making the choice to become sober. Here are my musings on the adventure. Thank you for being here with me!

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