Reflecting on alcohol consumption
Reflecting on alcohol consumption
Back in my late teens I used to go out drinking with my college friends and one of my mates had a friend who often came and met us who didn’t drink. I remember at the time how despite his being a lovely guy, really sociable, friendly and open, I was somewhat affected by his presence – not in an extreme way but it stirred up feelings about my own choices around alcohol consumption when he was around.
What was clear to me about him was that he was quite settled that alcohol was not for him. There was no confusion, doubt or an ounce of weakness in his decision, and I say this with no knowledge of his reason to choose to not be a drinker. While in his company I could feel the solidness of him; he was extremely strong and relaxed in his choice.
Furthermore, I felt no imposition or judgement towards the rest of us that were drinking; he would get involved in all the conversation and playful jokes, stories and interactions. What was clear to me, though not really fully understood until much later, was that the discomfort I was experiencing was the reflection he gave me that my choice to drink was not truly what my body wanted, that I was harming myself and his choice was exposing this for me to feel. It makes perfect sense that someone choosing to not partake in the harming effects caused by alcohol consumption, and particularly binge drinking, will stir up unresolved feelings in someone, who by free will is wanting or needing alcohol.
We learn best when we have the beacon of light that is another choosing to care for themselves more than we are. In fact, without the modelling of healthy choices we would likely not connect with what actually supports us. How strong the pull is to do as those around us do!
So in short, back then I knew that drinking was a choice I was making that didn’t feel good in my body – after all, who can honestly say that drinking feels good for their body. I mean the hangovers, the disrupted sleep, the dehydration, the unsettled digestion, the memory loss, the puffy bloated skin….. and so on. Yet this is a choice I had slowly succumbed to, fitting in with the normality I found in my culture and brethren. 20 odd years later and having not drunk for over 7 years, I can view these feelings from that other perspective. I can see and understand why a healthy choice can unsettle those around you.
It exposes the perverted approach to health and wellbeing we currently experience in our human existence – where people making strong healthy choices are attacked for their resolution to be more loving with their own body. We often don’t like to see another do this as it exposes those of us who aren’t willing to make those same healthier choices.
And when I say healthy, I mean that in the truest sense of the word: vibrant, vital, bright, vivacious, abundantly energised; not in the low-lying version of ‘health’ we make our normal, where we are considered healthy merely by the absence of sickness and disease.
If we get honest, the choice to drink comes not from a love of the taste, (I won’t argue for many the sugar hit tastes good, but look beyond this to the whole body effect) but a need to dull our senses, to avoid the feelings we struggle to cope with. The unwillingness to confront and accept that which has hurt us, the unresolved emotional jam. What feelings are some of us burying with alcohol when we go seeking that relief?
And so it stays with me as I make the choices to be truly healthy as best I can be, the uncomfortable reflection I was offered by the lovely friendly alcohol-less guy all those years ago who helped reveal my unease, my knowing of what alcohol consumption was really doing. He helped me to see the myriad excuses we make about why we drink – that it’s fun and brings people together – when I know how false and loveless that drunken connection is.
Drink or don’t drink, but be aware the choice you make and be honest about the feelings that arise when you have the reflection of someone making a different choice from you – one that perhaps exposes the reality of a relationship we may have with alcohol.