One of Buddhism’s 5 Precepts:
“I undertake the training rule to abstain from fermented drink that causes heedlessness”

Before I give more details on why I haven’t had any alcohol in a week, you have to listen to my story 🙂

I have mentioned in the past that I grew up in a house with an alcoholic. As a child, I went to Alateen, it was a group like al-anon for children of alcoholics. I don’t remember a great deal about it, just that I never really wanted to go but in hindsight, I learned a great deal about the experiences I had.

Addiction isn’t fun. For those who have tried to quit smoking, you know what I mean. I quit smoking dozens of times, each time I turned into a monster, it messed with my emotions, I felt like I was crawling out of my skin. I took to Nicotine Lozenges and I did it at a time when I thought I was having health problems to finally get me over the hump. It’s been over 10 years now!

I use to drink Coca-Cola like it was going out of style. My wife would buy 12 packs and I would have several cans a day. At one point she seemed concerned that I was drinking so much but she kept  buying more. I told her I drink it because it is in the house and told her not to buy any more but for a while she kept buying it, so I kept drinking it, lol. She would express her concern again and I would ask her to stop buying it. She stopped buying it and I quit drinking soda 🙂  I’m not saying she is an “enabler” but that is one of the keywords in addiction.

“Enabler”- “a person who encourages or enables negative or self-destructive behavior in another”- So if you are buying your loved ones their “drug” of choice, you are an enabler.

So why did I quit? It was that little bug in the back of my mind that said, “Whoa, wait a second, what’s going on here?”. I love wine and find it refreshing. Hints of Fruit, Nuts, Oak, strength of alcohol, I was having fun with it. I’m not big on beer but there are a ton of Micro Brewers nearby and I got to enjoy sampling the beers like I sampled the wine. Flavors galore!

Running was a great equalizer. I knew if I was running the next day, I either had to do without or limit myself to one. I was coming home from work, suiting up and running. When I got injured, instead of having that hour between coming home from work and running, I poured a glass and sat on my … couch. There was nothing to place a limit on my drinking. I’m not saying there was no limit, I have always been someone who knows when to say when. I don’t get to a point where I slur my speech or fall down, I don’t drive drunk… I could be a functional alcoholic! 🙂

I enjoyed coming home and relaxing with a glass of wine, I enjoyed a glass of wine with dinner and I never thought anything more about it. One day something sparked inside my mind. I thought about the last time I didn’t have a drink and couldn’t remember the last time I didn’t have a drink. (Other than the 3 years that I avoided alcohol). With my background, I figured I wanted to test myself again and see if I could do without alcohol.

I let the wine and beer supply in the house dwindle and when it was gone, I found myself buying a bottle of wine with the promise of just one glass that evening. The one glass was so refreshing, I took two. (D’oh!). On weekends, I would make the same promise of one glass that day but I found it refreshing and would have two, then maybe I started to BBQ and another glass..and then the bottle was gone. This was my biggest concern!

For about two or three months I played this little game with myself. I wouldn’t drink one day, I’d try to limit myself the next, the weekend would come and everything went out the window. So finally last Saturday, I said enough is enough… and like I did with Coca-Cola, I stopped buying it!

My biggest fear about stopping “Cold Turkey”, was that I would experience withdrawal. Strange huh? Fearing to quit something over fears you will suffer! The only issue I had was a dull headache during the second day and I cannot be sure that had anything to do with it. I have to laugh though, I have had no issue over the past seven days. Actually I should point out that I went to a Jazz event last night that served beer and wine, I was perfectly fine with it but did think to myself that if this was a week ago, I’d be on the line for the wine.

I think my concerns were more mental than anything, perhaps a habit but not necessarily a problem but definitely something I needed to investigate. I’ve gotten awfully lazy lately and have gained 10-15 pounds – My motto is “Everything in Balance” and I needed to do something to find balance in my life. I’m slowly getting back to running, have added biking and tennis recently and I hope to get back on the road of health. I have even made a doctors appointment to have a check up and have blood work done. NEED…TO…FOCUS!

But in all seriousness. Alcohol is a stimulant, a depressant, a mind bender to some and I have seen it change people and not for the better. While this doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with my study of Buddhism, it is ironic how it fits in with it. In Buddhism, you are really trying to focus your thinking and be mindful. I think this decision will further my learning.

I’m not sure how long I will “… undertake the training rule to abstain from fermented drink that causes heedlessness” but I’d rather be in control of the situation. To Be Continued….