A Big Anniversary Just Passed…

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.


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.

~ ~ ~ ~

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.


Tee-Totaller Bex

(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.


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.]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“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.”

[Jack Rosenthal]

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”

[Anatole France]

“There are only two seasons – winter and baseball.”

[Bill Veeck]

Jazz & Bex

2003 – 2007 Archives ~ 2007-2009 Archives ~ 2009 Archives ~ 2010 Archives ~ 2011 Archives ~ 2012 Archives

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12 Responses to A Big Anniversary Just Passed…

  1. Bex says:

    K8 (Kate), I’ve been meaning to say HI! Welcome back! It’s been years since I’ve “seen” you in here. I know, I moved around but I’m here to stay barring any unforeseen problems with J-Scape. How are you? What’s new? Do you have a blog or journal? Fill me in on all…


  2. K8 says:

    Another thing we have in common, Bex. I quit smoking Oct. 7, 1996, and quit drinking March 23, 1998. Two of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life! Congratulations to you for seeing what you needed to do, & doing it! And I love that time capsule in the wall. If I ever get to remodel my kitchen (& Oh! how I want to!) I think I’ll do the same.


  3. Joan says:

    Bex, having come from a loooooong line of alcoholics, I must certainly praise you for your ability to acknowledge the problem and then to do something about it. My four grandparents were all alcoholics and the damage they did to their families is still felt today.


  4. Bex says:

    I totally get that a lot of people are centered and whole and can enjoy the benefits of a drink now and then, like Nina is saying. In fact, I would love to sit down to one of those Aperol spritzers she talks about in her blog, if only I didn’t have this propensity to overdoing it, which I do. I am an obsessive/compulsive personality I guess. I just wish there were a light-bulb that would go on over a person’s head when drinking alcohol has crossed that line into something unhealthy. It would have been nice to have been raised in a “normal” family, too, which some people are fortunate to have done, but that was not the case with me, so it’s best that I just avoid the potential problem altogether.

    It’s kind of like global warming – one day it’s considered the downfall of the world, and the next day it hasn’t hurt the world at all… they say a glass of wine a day is health-ful, and I’ve often thought that I could try that maybe. But better not. I can remember way back when — and it wasn’t a pretty sight!


  5. Nina says:

    Well of course, I, too, applaud giving up drinking in the way that you describe it. I can’t imagine standing behind alcohol as a way to have a regular tickle in life. But I have to say that it is possible to enjoy alcoholic beverages — wine is my favorite — and not fall into the declines you describe. I do think that once you decide alcohol is a pretty cool party drink, one that’s there only to give that high, you’re best staying away from it. But I do believe that, like most anything in life, if you haven’t crossed the line, you can continue to relish a sampling of good things and not feel that you’re slated to repeat the sins of those who have managed to abuse alcohol, privilege, greed, or most anything else that is addictive and therefore vile. Anyway, congrats, Bex. I can see that your path was a tough one and I can certainly see that where you are is way better than where you once were.


  6. t.s. says:

    Nice entry. Convicting…


  7. Beanie says:

    Congratulations on your anniversary!

    And even with all the medical effects of drinking, it is still legal. (Not to mention how it affects families.)


  8. mz. em says:

    Congrats on you! You are an inspiration to us all. I know having grown up with alcoholics and smokers, really made a dent on me especially in my late adult life. Granted I did my play time with drugs and alcohol but when I said enough was enough, I stopped. It’s one of the reasons I bought my own motorcycle. I could control what I ingested. I have never regretted my decision either and I have never had a drink when I am riding my bike.


  9. Bex says:

    Thanks Sarah, and I do think having that image of what you never want to be helps when temptation knocks on your door. It’s just not worth it to slip off the wagon, not for a stupid high, and then low, that you get from drugs (and I include alcohol as a drug).


  10. Bex says:

    Sandy, I NEVER smoked… sorry I didn’t make that clear. It was so awful living with a smoker that I never started, thank the lord!


  11. Rhubarb says:

    Bex, you are an inspiration to all of us who have had to struggle, sometimes on a daily basis, with an addiction. I, too, hold an image in my mind that I bring before my inner eye every time I’m tempted to slip off the wagon. “No, never again,” I say.

    I find it also helps me to stay straight when I’m in a situation of temptation and I just say out loud to my friends/companions, “I can’t handle this.” They look surprised, sometimes they try to coax me, but the verbal declaration has helped me remain who I am, not that other person who made such a fool of herself.

    I love your time capsule idea!


  12. sandy from iowa says:

    So proud of you to stop the drinking and smoking.
    I had a father who drink all his life and did bad stuff to my mom…it took a toll on my life growing up..
    Great idea to put bottle in wall 🙂


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