Updated: Nov 19, 2020
Let's pretend for a moment I have not had an incredibly easy, peaceful, and fulfilling path through sobriety. Let's instead pretend my journey has been filled with struggle, second-guessing, endless day ones, and self-doubt. If we find ourselves in this lonely and isolated place of uncertainty, it is only natural to want to hide and avoid any unwanted or unwarranted rhetoric about our failures. We do not want to face why we continue to find ourselves trapped on the downward spiral of our lives. Why would we? I mean, our lives have been hard enough, right? Why subject ourselves to more torment, pain, and heartbreak? Unfortunately, the path through sobriety is not only filled with our own self-imposed obstacles. No, it is littered with obstacles thrown in our way by strangers, coworkers, friends, and even those who love us. They may not even know what they are doing, but they are doing it nonetheless.
Again, while my journey has not been difficult, many others have experienced great difficulties dealing with the "burden" of sobriety. We carry with us on our journey our own baggage full of history, experience, and beliefs. This baggage may help, or it may hinder our potential for success. It all depends on how we managed our failures, what we did with the knowledge gained from those lessons, and whether or not we allowed our character to grow as a result. If we are lucky, we gained some tools along the way to help us on our path of rediscovery. If we are not, then the road is simply that much longer. Either way, it is not only our own personal baggage we must contend with down this potentially long and lonely road. We must too deal with the baggage carried by everyone else around us. Whether they know it or not, many of the people we come into contact with every day are unconsciously and probably involuntarily perpetuating the lies of alcohol.
If we are not aware of the lies being thrown at us every day, the lies have the potential to slowly wear us down and destroy our resolve to fight for and obtain the goals we seek to achieve. One such lie came to my attention recently during a shopping trip to a major liquor store chain. It is no secret my partner and I enjoy non-alcoholic (NA) libations because we have both found comfort in the ability to enjoy them as we did their poisonous counterparts but without the obvious ramifications. Nevertheless, we were shopping for NA wine and beer when the store manager approached us and inquired if we needed any help. We said no thank you. He smiled and then gazed at the contents of our cart. With a slight hint of surprise he looked up at us and said "Oh, you are getting the stuff without the magic." We were both so taken aback neither of us responded. We just smiled and continued on our way.
Upon reflection of this encounter, I have had innumerable thoughts regarding the interaction between us and the manager of the liquor store. Granted, his job is to sell liquor, I get it. Regardless, his job also involves taking care of his customers, including those who are supporting his company by purchasing the NA versions of the product. His statement, "... without the magic" felt a little mocking to me. Why would you say such a thing to someone who is obviously choosing to make a healthier choice? Why not, in an effort to support your customers and your business say something like, "I see you have found our non-alcoholic section. Let me know if you have any questions." Doesn't that seem more supportive and inclusive?
The problem is not the store manager or his comment. The problem, as we know, is the pressure exerted on all of us by the society of alcohol. We are taught to believe this way. From as long as I can remember, alcohol has been touted as our savior, our escape, and as our friend. Unfortunately, it is none of those things and the longer we perpetuate this lie, the longer we, our friends, and our family will suffer as a consequence.