There are a few tiresome, well-used names and labels in our culture that I absolutely do not embrace. One of those is “Alcoholic”. It is absurd and ridiculous to me to label someone as diseased, piling on a load of shame while singling them out as weak, unable to control their addiction, somehow flawed. We are all brainwashed, nearly from the time we enter the world, by a society that bombards us with advertising, media, and role models that birth and incessantly compound the belief that alcohol is cool, enhances social skills, helps us relax, sleep, connect with others, have better sex, look and feel more attractive, ultimately live a better, happier life. I was duped along with so many others to believe wine was good for me, pleasurable, helped me relieve the stress of the day. I romanticized wine as much as any connoisseur, nearly worshipping it, until it nearly destroyed me, slowly but surely. It abhors me the way alcohol, all forms of booze really, are held in high esteem by the masses. Booze is celebrated as an elixir by athletes, even the Yoga and spiritual communities are including it as a reward, a treat. Multitudes of otherwise supremely healthy people succumb to the perils of addiction, starting at a young age, curiosity leading to experimentation, perhaps with an innocent exploration into mom and dad’s liquor cabinet, then later as they get older, a night out with friends, high school shenanigans, ultimately some binge drinking here and there at a party. Many previously innocent young people find themselves unable to control their need to drink poison in its many well-disguised forms. For some of us, this is a process that covers decades. We find ourselves turning to booze to erase the stress of the day, to escape uncomfortable, unwanted feelings, overwhelm, to procrastinate dealing with situations that are worrisome, dreaded, frightening. The amounts of alcohol consumed increase with the level of addiction. Body, mind, and spirit fall under the spell of the Booze Bitch, her sly and underhanded cleverness is irresistible.
Another label that makes many cringe, and one in which I still struggle with, is “God”. When I first embarked whole-heartedly on my spiritual journey, seeking to connect with my higher power, wanting to establish a true and deep personal relationship, I had no desire to use the word “God”. It had been shoved down my throat for too long. The image of a white-bearded, powerful, sometimes punishing and ever-willful “old man in the sky” who had complete control over me and to whom I absolutely could not relate, did not work for me. When I thought of my higher power as nature, the energy of love and beauty everywhere that brought me joy and peace, it was easy to have a relationship, a deep and abiding love, for that Deity. I still prefer to call my beloved higher power “Source”, or “Universe”, “Nature”, or simply “Love”.
Names and labels we put on people and things, can cause alienation. On this sober journey, my preferred term for making the choice to break up with booze, is FREE. I have decided I deserve to have clarity, a sound mind and body, supreme health and wellness. FREE and CLEAR is what “Sober” means to me. “Choice” is liberating. Understanding what causes addiction, researching the science behind addictive substances and their effect on us, how our culture’s propaganda leads so many into addiction and then slaps a gruesome label on them, makes it easier to break free from the hold of dependence on booze. Learning how easily addiction can happen to anyone regardless of genetics, regardless of constitution, independent of status, age, or circumstances, is eye opening, expansive, and ultimately a huge relief. I am not flawed. I am not weak. We are not “less than”. We are MORE. We are FREE. Knowledge and awareness of the truth about alcohol supports the decision to take control of our lives, to shift our mindset from one of romanticizing ethanol in its infinite forms to seeing alcohol for what it really is, poison. We then can make the powerful choice to walk away from the poison and JUST SAY NO. We are FREE. Let’s celebrate!