Fiona isn’t quite 50 yet (but she’s planning to embrace her fifties with gusto!), but her determination to give up alcohol, and her motivation behind the decision, will probably strike a chord with many!
So, this New Year’s Resolution was to give up alcohol – not for a month or even two – but for the whole year. Before you say anything, this is not something I’ve gone into on a whim. And I must also stress that I’m not just a “take it or leave it” kind of drinker either, so this is a big number!
When everyone I’ve told has asked me “Why?” and, yes, absolutely every person I have told has asked me that question, my response has been “It’s complicated.”. It hasn’t been a decision I came to overnight, or, even as a result of a seriously bad hangover on New Year’s Day after a surprisingly drunken and emotional New Year’s Eve. It has come about as a result of a complex set of emotions, circumstances and years of self-analysis.
Alcohol has been part of my “mask” as long as I can remember. I started drinking at boarding school when I was 14 (a year after I started smoking, but 5 years before I lost my virginity – make of that what you will!) It has been my best friend on nights out for the best of part of 32 years and my “other half” at home in and out of relationships. It’s encouraged me to participate in activities I would never have considered had I been on my own (falling over in public, puking in nightclub toilets, skinning dipping and to my shame, a few rather more unsavoury activities which I will keep for another blog!) In truth, I have been the life and soul of the party over the years, but now I feel that funny, amusing person I think I am when I’ve had a drink, is just ridiculous – and that’s not what I am inside.
I became aware of my own mortality after the death of my father
Following the sudden death of my father, I had another shift where alcohol was concerned – I became aware of my own mortality. It wasn’t an epiphanous moment – rather I became aware of something just outside my peripheral vision. It came into full view as the year has progressed and now stands like a billboard at the front part of my brain which reads “Fiona, you’re going to die”. I don’t mean I’m terminally ill. Well actually, I am, as in I’m alive and will one day no longer be so. What I mean is I saw my strong, apparently healthy father die very suddenly and the penny finally dropped that I going to, too. If that’s the case, then the life I have left I want to live to its maximum potential and with clarity – and alcohol just doesn’t allow me to do that.
Alcohol had become a habit
Habit – my last major reason for giving up. When you’re a 40-something single mother of 2 boys under 10, working, paying the bills, helping with homework and generally wanting to do the best job of raising them that you can, it’s an easy trap to fall into to “have a little something to look forward to”. Alcohol used to be that for me and that used to make me feel sad. There are a million better things to look forward to than that and I may have been missing out on some of them. In fact, if anything, adding alcohol to the above mix just makes life tougher, not easier.
So you see why it hasn’t been easy for me to answer the question of why I’ve given up, but for the benefit of all those who have asked, I hope this makes it a little clearer. I will certainly be happy to give an update in a year’s time and let you know if – and how – my life has changed.
Oh and there is one last reason I stopped drinking – I wanted to see what it felt like to be a person who says “No thank you, I don’t drink”!