Why I Gave up Alcohol

Very recently someone asked me why I didn’t drink alcohol. This person was barely an aquaintance at best, certainly not a friend, so at first I was taken aback by them reaching out. But also I wasn’t aware anyone noticed that I did not drink. Quickly after that thought passed, I thought how courageous it was of them to ask, as they themselves admitted to having a problem with alcohol. Which is what sparked the idea for writing this post. 

I felt honored to be asked by somebody struggling with this aspect in their life, ultimately it was interfering in every aspect, so I was happy to share my reasons with them and offer some hope, at least that was and is my intention.  

I never had a “problem” with alcohol. There was no rock bottom moment, jail time, DUI, or severe consequences to force me to stop drinking. It was more of a slow elimination process. 

I have witnessed enough traumatic experiences with people who drank way too much. I saw the destruction it caused breaking up families, the culprit for people losing a job, totaling a car and almost their lives. Alcohol abuse combined with prescription pills took my best friend since preschool, way too young. A year later it took her mom, someone I considered to be my second mom growing up. 

I grew up in Southern California, near the beaches of Malibu in a fun utopia like town. We were a tight knit community and my friends and I loved to go to the beach, hang out at the park and we loved to party. It was fun and innocent back then but I drank too much. By the time I was 21 it was no longer fun because it was legal, but even then it did not resonate with my body or my soul. Being a serious competitive athlete from the time I was 9 years old, I think really helped me to stay disciplined and also find other ways that made me feel euphoric. Otherwise I could see how it could’ve easily turned into a problem.

When I moved to Park City, Utah I was a mom starting a new chapter in my life, single, alone, with my daughter in tow. Going to a place where I knew maybe two people, had no friends, no job lined up but I was determined to raise my daughter in an environment that was healthy, wholesome and active. I also wanted her to have her father in her life so we were able to co-parent her somewhat successfully.  Actually one of the factors for no longer being with him was that I felt he drank too much. His version of having a few beers, since it was not hard alcohol, combined with the fact that he worked so hard, therefore it wasn’t a problem, differed from mine. It was not the lifestyle that I wanted to pursue. Anyway that is another story, but I suppose it did contribute to my aversion of alcohol. It is a progressive disease after all, a few beers every night for ten years or more adds up. 

With the notoriously weird alcohol laws in my new state, I found that not having wines and spirits in the grocery store to be inconvenient, so I rarely made a point to stop at the state liquor store as it was just another errand on my to do list. I shopped at the first ever Trader Joe’s in Utah and thought wow, no Two Buck Chuck, no alcohol at all, except for beer with an oddly low alcohol content. I prefer a good whiskey or an expensive wine anyway.  I do appreciate the process and art that goes into making these spirits. Also, it seemed I only ever had a craving for a glass of wine on a Sunday when the state liquor stores were closed. It became even more of an out of sight out of mind situation. I did enjoy drinking when I went out socially because I met people, I like to dance, I also discovered I actually did like country music, weird. 

But when I entered my 40’s it was like a switch went off in my metabolism, hormones or whatever, but every time I drank, the next day I felt absolutely horrible. I felt depressed. I did not like that feeling. Also it was much harder to lose weight, than it used to be. I remain very active but it’s like a cruel joke God likes to play on women as we age. I just did not want to make it any harder than it had to be.

I also fell in love with a man younger and much more athletic than me. Because of his own healing journey and athletic pursuits he cut alcohol from his life completely. He also quit smoking because I was allergic.  We stopped keeping alcohol in the house, except when a friend came over and left a bottle, which would sometimes remain in the fridge until another visitor came and wanted a drink. My teenager also does not like to drink, thank goodness so we created that environment in our home for her and it worked for us, it felt good. 

One of my mentor’s, who is in her early 30’s, anyone at any age can show up as your teacher, shared her story of why she does not drink. She explained that it felt as if every time she drank she was wearing a mask. Insecurity was the main reason. Whenever she needed liquid courage or wanted to be more outgoing at social events she drank alcohol, it was a shield when she did not feel comfortable in certain situations.  She realized, why would I want to be like somebody other than who I am? I learned from her that the origin of the word “Alcohol” comes from the Arabic “al-kuhl,” which means “body eating spirit,” (whoa) and this actually serves as the origin for the English word “ghoul.” Alcohol=ghoul. Spirits, when you are intoxicated it is like your spirit leaves your body, and you are not yourself. Something that is evident every time I am sober around those who are not. 

Today, where I am at now, I have had a couple of shots of whiskey maybe twice in the past year. It only reminded me of why I don’t like it. It does not align with the highest version of myself, which is what I strive to be. I’m not perfect, not that abstaining from alcohol makes anyone perfect. Sometimes, especially now under the current stress I am under along with the rest of the country I sometimes wish I did drink more.  Maybe one day I will. But for now it is what works for me and my body. Now sugar on the other hand is much more difficult for me and giving up coffee, that would be a hard no. I’m not an expert by any means but I believe in progress not perfection. 

Yours in Optimal Health and Wellness, 

Leilani 


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