Do you know what alcohol is like? It’s like reaping the benefits without doing any of the work. Even social drinking, 1-glass a day drinking, once in a while drinking — a person drinking alcohol is redeeming the rewards of relaxation, joy, freedom, truth, ease, carefree-ness, charisma, bliss, creativity, connection, etc. without actually doing any of the work. It’s a shortcut… well more than that, it’s cheating.
Sure, life is hard and “we all need to cheat and eat dessert first sometimes”. But we shouldn’t equate the benefits we get from alcohol to the actual thing. Let me explain:
People are not courageous and “speaking their truth” after they’ve had a glass of alcohol. Because to be courageous requires feeling the tight, raw fear and doing it anyway, even through shaky words and sweaty palms.
People are not connecting and showing their true affection with others under the influence of alcohol. Because true connection comes from when both people really open themselves up in vulnerability (which cannot be done with alcohol) and see each other and accept each other from there.
Alcohol is falsehood. It’s not-truth, not authentic, not really showing what they are really experiencing. And I’m a believer that we want the real thing! We actually want to witness courage and witness true connection! Not some cheap version of it!
I’ve been on both ends. I’ve used alcohol to rid my anxiety and boredom. I’ve used it to make friends. I’ve used it just because. I’ve used it without even really thinking much about it. But I stopped drinking when I finally turned towards my emotions (usually with another person or counselor – or at the very least a journal) and began to find the languaging and tools to process those emotions without needing alcohol. I stopped drinking when I found other real things to bring me joy and fun (like music, meditation, painting, board games, and other people) rather than cheating and turning to alcohol.
I’ve also been on the other end of alcohol. I’ve been dosed with bubbly affection only to find avoiding stiffness the next day. I’ve heard stories five times because they don’t remember telling me. I’ve made plans with someone under the influence, only to have them forget the next day and forget me. I’ve cheered on success in creativity and revelation, only to find out that it was shallow and not long-lasting because it was achieved through alcohol.
You may find this a remarkable statement, but I can understand why there were some people that actually wanted prohibition a hundred years ago. Making alcohol harder to get and not as accessible, sounds sane to me. It’s hard to be there for each other, when one person takes it in their own hands to separate and escape the situation with alcohol, consequences be damned. And the consequences are sadly usually on the people around them who feel just as (or more) helpless than the person who is drinking.
But what can you do when it is the other person using or abusing alcohol? Certainly shaming and guilt-trips aren’t the way to go. Instead it’s a tricky dance of compassion, letting them be, letting it go, speaking the truth how the alcohol is affecting you, getting upset, speaking the truth again about how the alcohol is affecting you, letting it go, letting them be, and compassion. For me, I’ve really focused on my own connection to a higher power and embraced the practice of turning over my worries and concerns to that higher power — believing that they have the power to heal and perfect ALL things… even if it takes days, months, or years to do so.
So to finish, I’d love to share this prayer, that was given to me in a time of need and really helped. You can read it any time you need it. Keep being faithful and keep longing for that future that doesn’t need alcohol anymore, I trust so much that it will come.
Dear God, I come to you in anguish over the hold alcohol has over people. Relationships have been rocked by it, destroyed by it, abusive behavior has been fueled by it, and people die because they are a slave to it. I stand against alcohol through faith and prayer and claim freedom from it! I pray that the shackles that ensnare people with alcohol would be broken. I pray for their protection from it and self-control to flee temptation. I pray that you would meet them where they are right now and fill them with your Holy Spirit grace. Open their eyes and let them see the destruction that it brings to their lives. Please send encouragement to those who need help, give them strength to help them fight it, and send peace to overcome any changes in their bodies and release restoration in Jesus holy name. Amen.