Before and After alcohol: all around me to none

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Before and After alcohol: all around me to none

I grew up with alcohol all around me all the time – it was normal for it to be wine o’clock instead of afternoon tea and I didn’t even know that it was not healthy to wake up and have your flagon of wine on the bedside table.

There were times when I would question the behaviour of my parents and their friends, but at that young age I did not really know any other way and I did not realise the behaviours were the side effects of alcohol.

I watched as an innocent child does, and I learnt by example. Even though there was a part of me that knew that it was not right, it seemed to be normal and I didn’t question any of it until I was much older.

When I was old enough to start drinking – which was at a young age because I was given a tipple here and there and ‘a little glass of wine with dinner won’t hurt you’ – the one thing I remember really well was thinking: “I don’t want to be a drunk”. I didn’t know that drinking alcohol was bad for my health and wellbeing, but one thing I knew for sure was I didn’t want what I could so clearly see around me.

I had experienced watching so many drunken episodes, fighting and the emotional crying and drama that goes with it, including attempted suicide and drug use, to name just a few of the side effects. There are so many long-term side effects from alcohol on the body that you may not realise or suffer from until later in life, but in my time I have witnessed a lot of them. I also knew friends who had an addiction to alcohol who lived on the street and had nothing – no belongings, no home and very little to live for.

One thing I did see clearly was the effects of alcohol and I knew I didn’t like them. I always found it hard because on one hand I knew that alcohol was not right – every part of me knew this – yet on the other hand it was all around me and everyone drank it, so it left me confused and uncertain as to that inner knowing.

Fast forward a bit and I was a 14-year-old teenager in the Caribbean. You can buy a bottle of rum for a few dollars and for one party I remember us buying a trolley full of grog and never being questioned about our age. We had no idea that alcohol was bad for us! There were no warning labels and all the adults drank it so surely it was okay, right? There was no questioning it and no one living by any other example, so I just joined in.

At that party I got so drunk my friends showered me because I had thrown up on myself, and later that night they hid me in some bushes away from the party so none of the guys would try to have sex with me because I was so out of it. In the morning I woke in the bushes and couldn’t remember a thing, but that didn’t stop me from doing it again.

The drinking continued at nightclubs, and one night a drink was spiked and that was another scary experience, but luckily one where I didn’t get hurt. I didn’t know the damage alcohol was doing to my brain or to my liver, let alone how much I changed when drinking alcohol. I wasn’t really a binge drinker and I never thought that I had a drinking problem, so why stop or be aware of what you are doing… if there is no problem, why change?

Truth was I never liked the taste of alcohol or how it made me feel; I didn’t like the side effects of alcohol either, so luckily I didn’t do it too often and whenever I did, I would get sick so it didn’t really work for me … but I persevered nevertheless.

Even as an adult I would still have a drink or two to fit in, so that I was not the odd one out and, time and time again, I would spend the rest of the night vomiting. It was ridiculous and when I started attending Universal Medicine workshops and courses and made a lot of new friends, and found out that they didn’t drink, I felt like I was finally safe enough to give alcohol up too. I was no longer the odd one out!

I could now go to parties and no one would try to coax me into having just one drink! I loved the fact that we could hang out and enjoy each other’s company without having to have a drink, let alone get drunk. I loved that people could sing, dance, have a lot of fun and only drink water.

I have saved so much money since giving up drinking; even if we calculated modestly, let’s say with a six-pack of beer and a bottle of wine a week, and that is not counting any drinks out or special occasions ... over 8 years that is a saving of at least $16,640. That is without adding all the extras that would go into the picture if I drank, like smoking and eating extra food and a taxi here or there.

It has now been about 8 years since I gave up drinking alcohol. I remember going to a New Year’s Eve party that went through the whole night, everyone was so wasted, lots of alcohol and drugs, friends sleeping around with strangers and me thinking to myself: “I don’t want to be part of this anymore”. I didn’t even want to be there. And after that I had one more six-pack of beer and that was it.

I have realised that my whole relationship with alcohol was all about fitting it with the crowd, being cool and accepted and to do that I went against what my body felt, which was to say no to alcohol altogether.

Today, I don’t actually have many friends that I hang out with who drink, I don’t go to bars or nightclubs any more and I don’t miss these things one bit. In fact, you couldn’t pay me to go there. Instead we have lovely dinner parties together, we eat well and talk and dance and have a whole lot of fun without the harming side effects of alcohol.

What I love about being sober and from what I have learnt from Universal Medicine is that I am now more aware of things than ever before. My clairsentience (ability to feel and know energy) was always there, but I was not connected to it because I was wasted. I can now feel what someone wants to say before they say it, I can feel a friend is going to call or arrive, I can sense things before they happen and this is all because my body is free from the poison of alcohol and I am open to feeling energy. Some things don’t even need to be expressed as I have already felt them and have an absolute knowing that I have always doubted in the past. You see, once I gave up alcohol and other stimulants, my ability to connect with myself and what I feel is just there, without any interference.

I have also come to know myself like never before. I have realised what an awesome, powerful, beautiful woman I am and how much I have to share with others when I am not lost in my old ways of hiding, lack of confidence and paranoia.

Today I love writing and sharing. I love being with others and expressing my love with them which is something that I found almost impossible to do as I had all my layers of protection on when I used to drink.

Giving up drinking has been one of the best things I have ever done and I love the sober me, who is growing and learning more and feeling more and more love and joy every single day.


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Lifestyle diseasesAddictionAlcohol

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    Photography: Dean Whitling, Brisbane based photographer and film maker of 13 years.

    Dean shoots photos and videos for corporate portraits, architecture, products, events, marketing material, advertising & website content. Dean's philosophy - create photos and videos that have magic about them.