Why I Quit Drinking: Karma (Barf) Plus Spiritual Psychology

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Awareness of the spiritual psychology aspect came last, barf karma second. Why quit drinking? No alcohol enthusiast believes he has a problem, eh? Unless, of course, it’s a problem he’s drinking to forget or at least ignore. Be it a domestic hog or one of the Arizona javelina skunk pigs pictured above, any porker will gladly gobble up any sort of edible foodstuff. Likewise, I cheerfully drank anything I could find that had grain alcohol in it.

Which I mention only because in the world of the heavy drinker, as in most worlds, it takes one to know one. As a reader, you’re not likely to care why or how I quit drinking, psychobabble B.S. or otherwise, unless you accept my bona fides. So here’s the backstory.

As a young boy, I began stealing sips from my Dad’s bottle of whiskey in the kitchen refrigerator (which was where he kept it) at a fairly young age. This may have been inspired by my uncle Bob’s wedding reception when I was twelve years old. I managed to cadge a couple of lightweight drinks from older folks, got tipsy enough to enjoy myself way too openly, and of course got cut off by the bartender, my Dad, and a couple of uncles. But I was hooked. I didn’t dare water down the old man’s booze too much; he was a World War II veteran (U.S. Navy) who came out of the service on a mental discharge and, as he told me when I was seventeen, “It took a lot of cases of whiskey to make the adjustment.” The man knew his Seagrams; messing with his personal elixir would have been taking my life in my own hands.

By age sixteen, however, I’d managed to amp things up nicely. My high school friends and I found buyers who would go get whatever we wanted if we had the money to pay for it, often without charging a penny for their services.

Just being helpful, and boy, did we ever appreciate their assistance.

I never quite got to the point of becoming a true maintenance drinker for any extensive period of time, but a good rip-roaring drunk on a Friday or Saturday night was prime recreation. Or so I thought. I drank everything liquid you could find, from 3.2 beer on up to Everclear.

Wow. That rhymes. To expand a bit:

I DRANK EVERYTHING

Drinking gave me comfy cheer
While my brain was being seared
From three point two beer
On up to Everclear

Distilled some stuff in Chem lab
That would rip out any throat
Mixed it with some grape Kool-Aid
And that was all she wrote

Cherry vodka in a liter jug
On guard duty, nonetheless
Age twenty-one, I had become
A pig for drunkenness

Yeah, I drank everything

By age 21, I'd become an alcohol pig, which by definition made me, at times...

By age 21, I’d become an alcohol pig, which by definition made me, at times…


...a bit of an ass as well.

…a bit of an ass as well.

At this point, I had learned that too much alcohol could and sometimes did knock down my immune system, opening me to stomach flu like symptoms especially. But I still enjoyed a good drunk on occasion and still thought of myself as problem free on the booze front.

Except, of course, often lacking sufficient funds for enough of the stuff. I had a wife, and over time we added two daughters to the mix. I was careful, conservative…

…and so full of it, it’s a wonder I didn’t explode from B.S. impaction.

The turning point arrived when I was introduced to Eckankar, the Religion of the Light and Sound of God, at age 30. Having found the spiritual path for which I’d been long searching, I read voraciously on the subject. There wasn’t a lot on the use of alcohol, but there was enough.

The teachings explained to me that as an Eckist, I would not be precisely required to quit drinking entirely, but that at some point it would drop away from me, more or less naturally.

Huh.

It could have been worse. I wouldn’t miss the nasty karma often attached to excess, the vomiting on the outside of my buddy’s car or inside my own, wiping out four rods of freeway fence and a fair bit of my 1952 Chevy while passed out at the wheel, things like that. I could certainly do without the occasional hangovers. The rare crying jags–let’s not talk about those.

On the other hand, it took a bunch of years for that “falling away naturally” to manifest completely. My bachelor’s degree is in psychology, so spiritual psychology should be right in my wheelhouse as an area of interest, but I was in my sixties before I finally got the message in its entirety.

Illness.

No, not cirrhosis of the liver or anything like that. In fact, by the time I reached the end point, my alcohol consumption had long been limited to a (not quite) nonalcoholic O’Doul’s beer every great once in a while. Quite simply, I no longer had to tie one on in order to temporarily wipe out my immune system. I didn’t even need to drink an O’Doul’s. If I had so much as a single sip of anything with even the slightest whiff of alcohol in it, I could count on going down hard within the next day or three, heavy flu symptoms, sometimes pretty much incapacitated for days or even weeks at a time.

Unless you’re a complete idiot, that sort of thing will eventually get your attention. And quite frankly, that’s why I finally quit drinking, once and for all. Alcohol is simply not compatible with either my health or my continued spiritual unfoldment.

Am I ever tempted to relapse? You know, have just one O’Doul’s or perhaps a single glass of champagne to celebrate the New Year?

Um…nope. Not any more. Karma can be a bugger, though. I didn’t really mind giving up the last drops of alcohol; I was finally ready. But when it comes to spiritual psychology, there’s never an end. There’s always another step to take. And wouldn’t you know, the year after I bailed forever on alcohol, I found out my physical body also didn’t do so well with…chocolate.

As Gilda Radner’s Roseann Roseannadanna character used to say on Saturday Night Live,

“Well, Jane, it just goes to show you, it’s always something — if it ain’t one thing, it’s another.”

A baby peccary may grow up to be an old boar, but a baby drunk merely grows up to be an old bore.

A baby peccary may grow up to be an old boar, but a baby drunk merely grows up to be an old bore.

6 thoughts on “Why I Quit Drinking: Karma (Barf) Plus Spiritual Psychology

  1. I quit drinking before my 27th birthday. I met Dennis and no longer felt the need to drink. I have never missed it a bit. It was just a way to relax and have some fun. I did do it to excess, a lot. I was raised in Reno and we would go party after work, every night. Dennis had something else for me that I needed a LOT more. He gave me spiritual sustenance.

  2. I went on the wagon a few times before my 27th birthday, but fell back off again. First tried at age 18, lasted for about six months. As for spiritual sustenance, that’s a powerful thing–but even with finding the path I’d been looking for, cutting alcohol out “100% forever” took me quite a while.

  3. Great post, as usual, Ghost.
    Luckily, my body was not that attracted to alcohol, but I am definitely addicted to sugars, which led to type 2 diabetes. I also have some social addictions, as I call them, wanting to do what others do, which meant that I would be a chain smoker if I didn’t have respiratory allergies to smoke, and that I would drink “socially” until I realized that I would miss out on most of the fun at the party if I even got a slight buzz. Each of these addictions, and other socially accepted interests, led to spiritual lessons and the opportunity to touch, to link, with people around me.
    Heavy drinking and eating can both kill me. So can fooling around with the wrong people. Now, I am dealing with all the sugar substitutes that my sweet tooth craves for, but I find that when I accept the craving, something changes inside me, and I am comfortable without the sweets, or the shared alcoholic activity. That is how Soul is adapting to my true spiritual needs.

    Manny

  4. That makes total sense to me, Manny. Both Pam and I have had people in our families who went through type 2 diabetes, and Pam is borderline–or possibly over the border, though she’s so far managed to avoid insulin. I have to say that I saw my Dad grow spiritually when both diabetes and Parkinson’s finished the knock-down process that a spinal fusion started. His grace as his health failed was a marvel to me; he went from a driven individual with a temper to become the truly gentle Soul that was his deepest nature, appreciative of all life. An example of that was when he found a grasshopper in the house, put it down outside, and warned it to, “Watch out for that bluebird!”

  5. I quit drinking for four months recently. It wasn’t hard to do – just made up my mind and did it. Then I got a new job that I’ve grown to hate. Chaos, and bad managing really drives me nuts – and back to the bottle. No where near like I’ve done most of my adult life, but back to it nonetheless.

    I’ll try again and succeed. But I’ve got to have it in my mind to do it, or I’ll fail. I know myself well. I’ll give it a go when it’ll be as easy to do as it was in June.

    Thanks for sharing your story, Ghost. What brought this on?

  6. Cool question, Sha. What brought this on? Simply put, the combination of curiosity and opportunity. The curiosity part involved my lead post: Why I Quit Stealing Stuff: Karma (Spiritual Psychology). That page has had nearly five million views since October of 2013 when I first moved it over to this site from HubPages and reworked the title. Every once in a while, I take a shot at duplicating that success, writing another “Why-Karma-Spiritual Psych” article. It never works, but it keeps me curious.

    The second part, opportunity, popped up with the skunk pig pictures. I thought, “Hey, I was a pig for booze in my day, so maybe…and these javelina photos would spice up the article nicely.”

    Relatively speaking, this post looks like another “flop”–but totally understandable. Googling the Quit Drinking topic brings up more than 10 million results, a relatively tight mix of stories and advice that won’t be easy to crack. But I eventually got to pondering, “Hm. This makes sense. Everybody and his or her goat is happy to write about existing or former drinking problems because to do so is 100% socially acceptable. Writing about having been a thief…not so much. Of course the stealing category was easier to crack.”

    Summary: SEO thinking, not any sort of personal crisis, brought this on. 🙂

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