Alcohol was one of the largest challenges to give up as a part of becoming Islamic. I will explain for you why this is more difficult than first expected.
Most cultures around the world have developed a lot of social events around alcoholic beverages, and we are taught in a very early age, that this is the way to celebrate. If you have achieved something in your life you celebrate with alcohol. If you are happy, if it is your birthday or any other positive occasion, you celebrate it with alcohol. If you are looking to have fun together with your friends, you drink and go out with them. But the hardest part was not the social nor the celebrations. It was the emotional part.
Because we might not realize it, but alcohol is often consumed when you have to deal with any kind of emotions. It’s not only for celebrating. When you are going through a breakup or are dealing with distress of any kind, we are taught to calm our thoughts and feelings with a glass of wine or a night downtown. When you are feeling low, it is completely acceptable, almost encouraged to drink in order to get through your struggle. It dims the strong emotions and makes it easier to go through any hardship.
The hardest part was to start dealing with the distressing parts of life. In the beginning I didn’t realize what role alcohol had in my life, so it was easy to give it up. I didn’t need to be drunk in order to celebrate, but when I suddenly had to deal with separation and hard times without alcohol, I realized that I had never felt such intense pain before. That was the hardest part. Previously, I had just been ignoring intense feelings with a good amount of alcohol and all of the sudden I had to deal with everything without alcohol. I did a lot of soul searching and a friend of mine gave me the greatest advice possible in order to deal with life’s distressing moments: “There is nothing good and there is nothing bad – Just experiences”. With that I learnt how to deal with the sudden intense feelings of emotions I had previously blurred everything out. Praying helped a lot, and I learned to cherish even the hard parts of life in a new and raw way.
Today alcohol is never on my mind, and I don’t feel any temptations. I appreciate the challenges I am given, and I want to experience them in a raw and real way. I thank God for giving me the challenges and I accept them as I would accept any other things in life.
While giving up alcohol on the rainy days, it has also brighten up the good ones. I realized after a while, that my mind was a lot clearer, even though I didn’t even drink regularly before I made the decision of converting to Islam. Speaking out of my own experience the world today seems more real, and it gives you a lot of strength to know that you can deal with any situation raw and unblurred.
This article is written by Simone Donvang