I am not usually about highlighting the lives of celebrities, but in the context of not drinking alcohol, I think it has the ability to be pretty inspiring. And for me, comforting. Because of this, I have included several quotes by celebrities whom I admire (and not just for their choice to not drink).
Being one of the the few of my family and friends that has made the choice to not drink, can feel isolating - at times. That is, if I allow that feeling of being different or judged - to get the best of me.
Choosing a lifestyle that is different than the majority of the population can be difficult in a number of ways. It is simply easier - at times - to join the masses. To not go against the grain, but rather partake in the making and consuming of the mash, sugary fermentation, and distillation of alcohol. But what I have discovered, is that it is only easier for the short-term. And much, much more difficult in the longer.
I was at a business function a couple of years ago, water in-hand, when the president of the company I was working for asked me if I was going to have a drink with them. I told him that no, I don't drink. He turned to me (with his drink in- hand) and said "Huh (pause)... Do you have a problem with alcohol?"
To say that I was taken back is an understatement. But I very assertively let him know that no, I don't have a problem with alcohol, I just choose to not drink.
In retrospect, I wish that I would have told him that "As a matter of fact, yes, I do have a problem with alcohol. It makes me feel like shit physically, mentally, and spiritually and I highly recommend going without it for a month to see how you feel."
The problem I have had in the past when choosing to not drink is that those around me did not see my drinking as a problem. They quite liked Drunk Ashley.
It is ASTONISHING the subtle (or not so subtle) pressure that I have received by not drinking - even by those that I respect and would least expect.The sheer lack of willingness to understand that there is an alternative to not drinking, is deeply disheartening.
The social dynamic in which alcohol is an acceptable form of 'loosening' up continues to mystify me. And really, is quite sad. I don't say this in a way that looks down on those that choose to drink - at least that is not my intention.
If you can consume a moderate amount of alcohol without it having any negative impact on any aspect of your whole wellbeing - then my dear, continue on. But, if there is any doubt ... question ... curiosity ... of its impact then I implore to give it up. If only for a few weeks... or months for a taste of what life is like without it.
Yes, in my life, I have fallen into the "if you can't beat it join it" mentality of not wanting to put up with the anxiety of being the only one at a social engagement not drinking - of wanting to be normal. Of wanting to to be like everyone else. Feeling restricted or deprived has been something that I have struggled with, so not having something that others seem to enjoy has been a challenge to overcome. But, it's a mental challenge. A mind shift. And, perspective can always, always be changed.
The truth is that I have had many different rendezvous with alcohol over the years. From long benders to short little affairs and each one has resulted in the same conclusion. No matter how smooth, satisfying, arousing, or pleasurable: alcohol and I just do not get along.
I like the term "teetotaler." To me, it puts a positive connotation with the sometimes negative connotation of sobriety.
Deciding to not drink alcohol is lifestyle choice. As is not smoking cigarettes. Yet (generally) one is frowned upon where the other is sensualistic. I've never been at a social function (in my adult life) where I have been pressured to smoke a cigarette. Alcohol on the other hand... countless. Why is this?
I was recently out to dinner with people that I dearly respect. One of them, in his late 50s I'd say, noticed that I declined the wine for the table when the server came to fill my glass. During conversation at dinner, he boldly asked me if I had experienced the AA meetings that are offered in NYC. He then went on to tell me that his son has found great support from the AA meetings in the city (awesome!) and wondered if I had too.
I found it incredibly interesting that he blindly assumed that because I choose to not drink, that I must be a recovering alcoholic.
Because I didn't want to cause any sort of embarrassment - for anyone at the table - I simply told him that no, I have not been to any AA meetings but that I was happy that his son has found support and that the city has a lot to offer in the way of resources. I also let him know that I choose to surround myself with like-minded individuals and meet many of them through yoga studios or professional networking groups.
Living as a teetotaler lifts me to a higher vibration and supports me in fully embracing and enjoying my other lifestyle choices such as being physically active, eating healthy, practicing yoga, meditation, connecting with community, and writing. I feel more present in my life. More calm, at easy, and grateful.
I value alignment in my life and there are a handful of things that will cause me to feel out of whack (talking about mind + body + soul), and alcohol is one of those things. Yes, even wine. (I can't even tell you how many times I've been asked "even wine?" when I tell people that I don't drink).
Here are just some aftereffects that happen as a result of me on alcohol (regardless of amount):
- Depression fosters or increases
- Anxiety fosters or increases
- Body/self-image issues arise or increase
- Triggers eating disorder thoughts/behaviors
- Lack of clarity and mental focus
- Sudden irritability/agitation
- Careless/wreck-less choices
- Sleep disruptions
- Excessive sweating
- Disconnection with my spirituality/higher-power/higher-self
- Tummy problems arise or worsen
- Kidney problems arise or worsen
- Inability to feel/connect with my emotions
So, I am not sure if being a teetotaler is your path, but I do know that it is mine. For this, I am grateful, for there is so much to life that I enjoy living that I want to experience fully. And for me, teetotalism is life giving.
So here's a cheers... to life,