Alcohol abuse – a 360° turnaround

Alcohol abuse is one of the world’s greatest problems, costing not only billions of dollars a year to treat in healthcare costs, but also being responsible for more domestic violence and family breakups than any other substance. Most of us have heard this all before, yet why don’t we do anything about it?

Looking back, my relationship with alcohol has turned 360 degrees but one key thing stands out – it never needed to get out of control in the first place. At the age of three or four I could never understand why someone would want to drink; I’d not tried alcohol, but everything in me felt it was poisonous and I hated it when my dad would drink, as it felt like he shrank away and was gone. As the years passed I would see people drinking – parents and their friends – and yet I could never understand why they did it. There was something in me; an absolute knowing of what was and was not true.

Fast forward until the Christmas when I was seven or eight years of age: I was staying with my grandparents and they were having a Christmas party. It was when drink driving was ‘normal’ and so the whole party was drinking and I remember going around and tasting the wine from leftover glasses.

Today the only reason I can think I tried the alcohol is down to the energy of everyone drinking and that it affected me, and even though I chose to drink, my body spoke loud and clear and I was sick all night long. It was the first of many instances when I would override what my body felt, ignore what it was saying and slowly erode the connection to the inner knowing of what is and what is not loving, supportive, and something for me to do.

It was a few years until I tried alcohol again, but the fact is everyone around me drank, it was normal, it was something that ‘the adults did’ and what I picked up was that to have a ‘good time’ and forget your problems, you drank. As a child who did not enjoy school much, as someone that did not fit into the system, I discovered aged 12 -13 that throwing parties made me popular; at parties alcohol was the new thing people were trying out and during that era in the early 1990’s of ‘Alco-pops’ (alcoholic lemonades), everyone started drinking young.

I soon learnt that if I felt upset, if I did not like what was going on at school or the fighting between my parents, then there was something I could turn to that would ‘make everything better’ … or so I thought, as no matter how much I drank, I always had to face reality the next day or if I really pushed it, a few days later.

During my teenage years there would not be a weekend that went by where I did not black out, lose complete control and couldn’t remember what I did, said or how I got home, as a result of consuming alcohol.

To put things into further context, I was brought up in middle class England, I went to private schools that cost my parents a lot of money each year, we had ‘the perfect life’ and during the period that was meant to be ‘the best days of my life’ I was self-medicating with alcohol. The future looked remarkably bleak and before leaving school I had given up inside and instead put on a front to get through life by ‘being successful’.

Aged 18 and after leaving school I took the ‘work hard, party even harder’ approach to life, each night cracking open a distinctive bottle of red wine with dark chocolate, or a white bottle ‘to go with the fish’. I had created a picture of sophistication that I believed I was living without being honest about how given up, hurt and disillusioned by life I actually felt. Every feeling I had I ‘bottled up’: we never spoke about things as a family and very rarely did I truly speak to friends about what was going on. I was functioning and was envied by many for my lifestyle, but no one looked below the surface.

Within a few years I was losing many friends who found it difficult to cope with my behaviour on alcohol; I thought I became ‘more of me’ but the truth was I was completely out of control. My body kicked in once again and I became incredibly sick with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and I had no choice but to stop drinking. It took me two years to stop completely, gradually cutting down the quantity, occasion and type of alcohol, but with a constant painful stomach night after night, my body was making sure I made some big lifestyle changes.

At the time I thought how useless my body was, that it was letting me down, yet today I am deeply appreciative of how loudly my body spoke –– it was the one that was guiding me all along.

Something happened that I found super difficult; the majority of friends that remained and whom I cared for deeply found it very uncomfortable when I was not drinking. They got upset that I was ‘not myself’ anymore, that the ‘fun’ me had become serious. The same people who ‘wanted’ me to stop drinking, now wanted me to drink, just not too much. I had a choice to make: to deepen the care and quality of my life and risk certain people no longer being friends, or revert back to the alcoholic ‘normality’ that I had created to surround me.

Cutting out alcohol was not the magic answer to my IBS, but I would later come to understand, through meeting and talking with Serge Benhayon, that drinking alcohol was a layer of self-abuse that was covering up the root cause of why I was choosing certain things in my life.

This is when the biggest changes in my life started to occur; I began the gradual process of deeply caring for myself and the change from living to fit into how I thought other people wanted me to be, to building a level of confidence in being me. The process has taken work and commitment –– I’ve fallen back into patterns of the past and whilst alcohol is not and has not been a part of my life for well over a decade, I’ve found things to replace it with when I don’t want to deal with something that is going on for me.

Today my body has an even clearer relationship with alcohol. As a young child I felt no ounce of me wanted to drink alcohol but I still felt imposed on by it; I felt a ‘reaction’ to alcohol and to the choices that my parents and family friends were making. I did not know how to handle those feelings and felt unsettled by what I felt.

When feeling into alcohol today, not only is there no residue left in my body, not only is there no single bit of attraction to drink, but there is a very ‘clean’ relationship with alcohol.

There is not the ‘reaction’ and the ‘unsettlement’ I felt as a kid. This confirms the depth of healing that has taken place and that as a child not knowing how to deal with my feelings, the depth of my sensitivity not being honoured by those around me was something that hurt deeply and by healing that, it has allowed me to go 360 degrees in my relationship with alcohol.

We come into this life carrying patterns from past lives, hurts that we’ve not resolved and behaviours that are common ‘go-to’s’ that we fall back on; it’s perhaps my unhealed experience and abuse of alcohol in past lives that I have healed this life, and in that I have changed for lives to come my relationship with alcohol, as I’ve changed my relationship with myself.

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  • Photography: Matt Paul