In past attempts to have a break from alcohol, I used to count down to when I could next pop the champagne. Today, after 2 years alcohol-free, I’m still counting. But it’s now the joy of this number going up.
In August 2020, as Covid sealed apartment towers and closed the entire State, going to a bottle shop seemed a crazy risk. Also, I was starting an online mat Pilates business. Part of the process was defining my 5 core values, one of which is authenticity.
I wanted to give myself and the business my best shot. I didn’t want to be left wondering if I’d missed my exciting new life for the sake of a few bubbles. On the other hand, contemplating a life without any alcohol seemed too huge.
So my first goal was 100 days
It seemed a big challenge, not to drink in spring and then the ‘silly season’. Time passed slowly. Friends started asking when I’d ‘come back’, to which I’d reply, ‘I’m not drinking at the moment, and may not go back. I’m just taking it a day at a time.’
Finally, I reached my goal. Now was my chance to open the bubbles. But I didn’t. By chance, day 100 fell on 1 Jan. This felt like a sign. I asked myself, ‘Is drinking really how you want to start a new year’?
As 12 months still seemed a huge challenge, I committed to 2 more (just to have summer off). I hoped that with a little more time, it might get easier, and it did.
I achieved my second goal.
I’d started counting firsts. First xmas. First birthday. First wedding anniversary. With hard work, I surprised everyone (myself mostly) by achieving a full year alcohol-free. But now I was busy counting new, really positive things.
One thing I loved most about sobriety was ditching the ‘debate’. This used to drive me insane.
For years, I knew drinking was a bad choice. For years, I aimed to have as many alcohol-free days (AFDs) as possible. And for years, most days I failed. I’d start each day with the firm decision to have an AFD. Of course, my journey wasn’t all revelation and happy dance. Though my counsellor warned me, one element took me by surprise. My sobriety was uncomfortable for some. I was happy for them to drink , but this just didn’t work for everyone. I was sad my positive life choice was so hard for them to accept. It’s a shame, as I’m still lots of fun without a drink in my hand. Also, if you go out with me, you’ll never need a taxi. You’ll have a Fonnie!
Far from enduring a strange, grim life of loss, I'm evolving into new, improved Fonnie.
Looking back at all this counting, a thought hit me. Why did I never count the reasons not to drink? Some reasons were familiar. Sharper focus. Better sleep. Reduced stroke and dementia risk. Some I learnt (e.g. at my 2-yearly mammogram, the more you drink, the higher the risk of developing breast cancer). Some reasons I couldn’t count, as they hadn’t happened yet.
I’d thrown myself completely into my business. Now I was doing things previously unimaginable. Learning anatomy. Being on camera. Teaching strangers. Presenting to groups.
In addition to all these benefits, sobriety improved my courage and resilience. I’m so happy I took the 100-day challenge and am excited for 19 June 2023 when I’ll reach 1,000 days. That will be something to celebrate, with a beautiful meal at my favourite restaurant.