I had meant to put a blurb in here the other day, when I turned 64 years of age. For on that day, exactly 30 years ago, I stopped drinking alcohol. Cold turkey.
It was one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. I grew up with an alcoholic mother who caused havoc for our family all our lives. I am still blaming a lot of my weird personality traits on her, but I can also see that it was the alcohol I should have blamed all along. It is poison. I realize some people can drink it moderately or even rarely and never have a problem. But the thing is that no matter how you think it affects you, every time you ingest alcohol, a part of your body is poisoned and dies. Even if it’s just small bits, like cells, enough cells dying will eventually result in big problems.
Thirty years ago I was only 34. I had been what I called an alcoholic for maybe only 10 years, but in those 10 years I had my share of troubles from it. I couldn’t seem to face going into any social situation without some kind of a drink in me. An innocent glass of wine, or something, just to “relax” me.
Often since that day in 1982 when I stopped alcohol altogether, I’ve wished I could just go back and let it all hang out…get a little high, ease the pains, feel loose and fancy free again. But the vision of my mother, and the things she did while inebriated, which was every single day of her life as an adult, would stop me.
I NEVER WANTED TO BECOME MY MOTHER.
And I probably would have if I hadn’t stopped drinking. I know Paul would never have married me because he, like I am now, is a tee-totaller through-and-through.
The smoking problem that my mother had also brought years of resentment and problems. I grew up in a house of smoke. She was the only one in our family who smoked, with the exception of her mother who lived in an apartment in our attic, so I was surrounded by smoke for the first 18 years of my life at home. My first job, and some after that, included smoke-filled offices that I endured until finally I got the courage up to insist on no-smoking wherever I was. At work I can remember setting up a window fan on the floor of my office, on high speed, and pointing it in the direction of the one male smoker in the office, and it felt like the North Pole in his little office with that fan blowing on him but I wouldn’t relent. I hated it so much. And still do.
Lucky for me I live in a smoke-free and an alcohol-free world. By my own choosing. By “our” own choosing.
So, for 30 years now I haven’t had a drink and I just pray I will always keep it that way.
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One funny thing that we did, when a guest arrived for dinner one night, she brought a bottle of wine, not knowing we didn’t drink (and don’t encourage drinking in our house either). We kept that bottle of wine, unopened, for years in the dining room until we were reconfiguring our kitchen during renovations and we decided to make a little time capsule to seal up in the wall. We put in some newspapers from that time period and some pictures, and that bottle of unopened wine. It’s still in the wall, where the breakfast room leads into the kitchen, down near the floor, all sealed up and waiting for the next occupant of Crow Cottage to find one day.
(Read below for more information on this subject)
What alcohol really does to your body
by Peta Bee
British women are drinking more than ever. The average woman drinks 9.4 units of alcohol a week, a figure that is predicted to reach 16.2 units a week by 2004. One unit of alcohol is equivalent to a small glass of wine, and the recommended weekly limit is 14 units. But even a moderate amount of alcohol will put your health at risk.
Weight gain is one of the most noticeable effects of regular high alcohol consumption. A glass of dry white wine contains 85 calories, and sweet wine 120 calories. A pint of beer has 170 calories, and stronger lagers contain up to 400 calories per pint. Sticking to the recommended limit of 14 units a week, you can easily consume 6,720 calories per month if it consists entirely of sweet wine. That may equate to a weight gain of two or three pounds.
Dilated capillaries, caused by blood rushing to the surface of the skin, is a common side-effect of heavy drinking. A woman’s complexion can also become more prone to spots, and her skin may develop dry patches.
When drinking exceeds the recommended guidelines, it starts to increase a person’s risk of heart disease. A British study published this year showed that women consuming 14 units or fewer of alcohol a week had reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, but those drinking more than 15 units were twice as likely to have hypertension or high blood pressure, which is believed to increase the risk of heart disease. The study also found that alcohol raised unhealthy cholesterol levels in the blood. The risk of a heart attack within ten years was lowest among those consuming seven units a week or fewer.
Over time, the liver learns to break down alcohol at a faster rate, which is why it takes progressively more alcohol to get you drunk. But this process produces toxic chemicals that can attack the liver and cause cirrhosis. Prolonged heavy drinking also upsets the delicate balance of enzymes in the liver and, eventually, fatty globules develop that cause the liver to swell.
A painful inflammation of the pancreas, known as pancreatitis, can occur after just a few weeks of heavy drinking. It results in a swollen abdominal area and can cause nausea and vomiting.
Alcohol suppresses the nervous system, which is why people lose their inhibitions and feel uplifted in the short-term. However, alcohol is actually a depressant and also shuts off the parts of the brain controlling judgment. In the long-term, it can cause depression, anxiety and lethargy.
A review of research published in the U.S. found that a high intake of alcohol is definitely associated with an increased risk of breast cancer in women. Those found to be at most risk were women who drank, on average each day, either 2.3 to 4.5 bottles of beer, or 2.8 to 5.6 glasses of wine, or two to four shorts.
Alcohol lacks essential vitamins and minerals, says Wendy Doyle, spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association. ‘Even Guinness and stouts, which people think contain a lot of iron, are very low in mineral content.’ As a result, people who drink heavily are at risk of nutritional deficiencies, especially from thiamin, vitamin B, calcium, magnesium and zinc. Too much alcohol also attacks the liver, so it impairs its ability to store the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K and to metabolise protein.
Andrew McNeill, co-director of the Institute of Alcohol Studies, says women break down alcohol less efficiently than men and accumulate higher concentrations of it in the blood from drinking the same amount as men. This is because they have smaller livers and more body fat.
Even after a couple of drinks, the ability to make decisions and react quickly to events is impaired. With a few more, co-ordination gets worse and the secretion of hormones slows down, which results in clumsiness, slurred movements and an increased pain tolerance. It takes the liver an hour to break down each unit of alcohol, so a night of overindulgence means enough alcohol may remain in the bloodstream to affect your ability to work the next day.
The state of your nails is widely regarded as a sign of your general health. They require a steady supply of nutrients to grow healthily but, since they are not a vital organ, the body does not make them a priority when its vitamins and mineral levels are low. Consequently, brittle, pale and peeling nails are often the first sign that your body contains too much alcohol.
FERTILITY AND PREGNANCY
Women drinking up to five units of alcohol per week are twice as likely to conceive as those who drink ten units or more. It is thought that too much alcohol interferes with the fertilised egg’s ability to implant in a woman’s womb. Several studies have shown that babies born to women who drink while pregnant are more at risk of brain damage and learning disabilities.
This year, a study by American scientists showed that alcohol can cause millions of brain cells in the foetus to die. These cells are responsible for connections needed for memory, learning and thought. One drinking binge of four hours or more can be enough to cause damage.
Another risk is foetal alcohol syndrome, caused by overexposure to alcohol in the womb.
[This is from an article in the Daily Mail Online.]
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“Our entry to it is naked and bare;
Our journey through it is trouble and care;
Our exit from it is who-knows-where;
So if we’re all right here, we’re all right there.”
“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”
“There are only two seasons – winter and baseball.”