In the Catholic Church, if one accepts the communion cup, one is able to start drinking at age 8 or 9 in most cases. It’s only a small sip of wine each Sunday, but it is exposure to alcohol. By the time I was in high school at age 14, I started craving the alcohol in an insane way. I knew my family history, and I realized that what was happening was not healthy. I also knew that whenever I was stressed out, I turned to soda. I felt like I was very clearly getting signs that my genetic predisposition to alcoholism was going to manifest if I didn’t make careful choices. As a result, I began abstaining at that point. Twenty-six years later, I still get cravings for wine based only off of communion cup exposure. I also only tasted beer once in my life when a friend’s mom gave me a sip at the ballgame when I was 11. I hated the taste of the beer yet I will still get cravings for it, too.
For me, it was the mature and responsible decision not to ever start drinking socially. In retrospect with the knowledge of my health problems which have greatly impacted my liver, it was the best thing I could have done for myself. I’m also grateful I didn’t have to give alcohol up when I started battling health problems; that is a struggle for many individuals. Even if I wanted to drink now, my body wouldn’t let me without severe repercussions.
I do partake of supplements that are alcohol based tinctures, and most of them are filled with herbs that are so potent and unappetizing that there’s not much attraction to them. I have to work consciously to fight the cravings from flower essences that are preserved in alcohol (usually brandy). This is one of the many reasons I love Green Hope Farm flower essences: They are alcohol free.
As an adult, it’s been interesting being a non-drinker. It’s definitely influenced my social life. I’ve never seen the point of going down to Sixth Street: The smell of urine, sweat, and vomit is just not my thing. I also found it hard to socialize with many of my fellow grad students because they went out to (then smoky) pubs after classes late at night when I just wanted to go to bed.
Several years ago, I went to a mini-golf party with my kids with some of their classmates and their parents. The park allows BYOB as long as it’s not in glass containers. While I was sitting there drinking my water and everyone else over 21 was drinking boxed wine, the parental group began complaining about people who don’t drink and how boring they are. I was amazed. As I relayed this to a friend (who does drink) the next day, he looked at me with a funny face and said, “Are we still in high school?” That was definitely how it felt to me.
Even on dating websites, I am amazed at how many men “red flag” women who don’t drink at all. It’s seen as a problem, even if it’s a decision made by choice for health reasons. Quite a few men argue that life is not worth living if you can’t have a glass of wine or champagne with your partner frequently or even each night. Everyone gets to make their own decisions around alcohol, though I wish others didn’t see the decision not to drink alcohol as a major problem. It just means that I find other ways to unwind and to enjoy life while being sober.
© 2014 Green Heart Guidance