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.
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thank you for sharing this. I see it often, but then am mostly surprised by how similar the happiness of “not having to drink anymore” feels for most people.
It was almost the same for me: things that seemed to be insurmountable hurdles when I was drinking, I suddenly dared to do and often (not always 🙂 ) succeeded.
I began to look forward to the cooking and the delicate food in the restaurant when I went out – and no longer solely to the alcohol I would be served.
And – yes, just as you write: finally these inner debates were over, the “going hard with me in court” the next morning. My constant shaming for what I was constantly doing in my free time. The contempt for myself.
I see it similarly as I understand your words: the uncomprehending, partly disapproving or at best kindly ignoring reactions of the social environment are one of the biggest challenges I experienced when I stopped drinking. Disturbing actually, isn’t it? Shouldn’t one rather be encouraged by family and friends in what one (finally) does…? I think it’s important to make sure that it remains THEIR problem and doesn’t become MY problem. I try to keep this in mind.
Anyway – congratulations! You have done well – if I may write that. And good luck with your webShop for Pilates mats…
All the best…Tom
Thanks for your generous comment.
I’m glad elements of my story resonated.
Congrats to you also for stopping drinking.
A really inspiring read. Yes I have a list of 10 reasons not to drink with the top one being present and not missing a moment of life. I look forward to 100 days as you did. Thx for sharing!
That’s so kind, thank you.
All the best for your 100-day challenge.
Congratulations on all that you have achieved – you have really inspired me!
I hoped sharing my story may help or inspire others, so it’s wonderful to hear it has!
Fantastic story! And inspirational. Thanks for sharing. Good health and happiness to you!
Thank you Adam.
That is most kind.
Great to read, thank you! Whenever I have the thought that “just a little alcohol is ok”, I keep reminding myself that it is when I get to 2 weeks without alcohol is when I really start feeling great. Having occasional alcohol prevents me from reaching this buzzing feeling. Not too mention all the other benefits!
Thank you John.
I’m glad you enjoyed the read.
I agree occasional alcohol is not for everyone.
Congratulations! Don’t ever look back!
Many thanks Rae.
Way to go. Bravo! It took real courage to get this far.
What a lovely thing to say!
Congratulations I really admire you & hope to one day be able to do the same ♥️🙏♥️
Thank you Annie.
My journey started by admiring others too.
I wish you every success.
Wow Fonnie what an inspiration you are. Thank you for being the best version of yourself-we’re incredibly lucky to have you as our amazing Pilates instructor and beyond honoured to have you as a dear friend.
You’re the best!
Thanks so much for your lovely comment.
And, for your support, on and off the mat.
Wonder journey you’re on Fonnie! I am sure the gifts of sobriety will keep popping up in the nicest of ways. One thing I found (I’m 20 months sober) is that my relationships became more authentic! 😁🌸
Thanks for such kind words.
Congrats on 20 months.
It’s great to be sharing this path with you.
Fonnie, I am so proud of you and you are an inspiration to me.
I still think you are fun and I love that you can be my taxi. 🙂
I am so excited for 19 June 2023…which restaurant shall we go to? I have loved being a part of this journey with you. I have seen you grow as a person, I have seen you switch careers and step majorily outside your comfort zone. You have a great perspecitive on your future, you are out of the fog and how brilliant that the debate is now over. This is your life choice now and it really suits you. Thanks for sharing your story. Mel xx
Wowzer! What an emphatic message of support Mel.
I’m so grateful for it and you.
I’ll book the restaurant and pick you up.
Congratulations on getting this far! I love to read inspiring stories like yours Fonnie, your story inspires me to stay sober, even just for today.
It’s music to my ears you found my story inspiring.
It was my hope that it may resonate with someone.
One day at a time is a great plan.
Best wishes to you.
Well done Fonnie.
I am still at the stop and start stage with a bit of “debating” thrown in. Can’t wait to be where you are now You should be very proud of yourself x
Thank you very much Amanda.
Although this debate is annoying, at least you’re having it!
I spent a long time in the ‘stop and start stage’.
Stick with it.
Love this story Fonnie – thank you for the share! I have gone between both sides personally and it’s a great reminder of all the wonderful things that come when alcohol doesn’t tie you down- especially the debate to drink or not to drink! Thank you 🙏
Thanks for your kind comment.
You’re so right that wonderful things come from not being tied to alcohol. So freeing.
Best to you,