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Fiona, on why she is giving up alcohol for a year

giving up alcohol for a year imageGuest post from Fiona Stewart.

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”!


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  1. Darren Hunt

    January 18, 2012

    Go for it Fiona. I know exactly where your coming from.. Choosing not to have a drink is an amazing and positively life changing choice. Read Jason Vales ‘kick the booze’ totally changed my life for the best and never felt as good since my first drink, at 14 too (I started smoking at 13) – go to http://www.mountainsinmind.com keep posting on FB your journey – All the best D

    • Fiona

      January 22, 2012

      Hi Darren,

      Thanks so much for the support – in fact I’ve been overwhelmed with the positive reaction I’ve had so far. I will most certainly be keeping you up to date with my progress, but so far, I haven’t missed it at all. Even on Friday night when I had a bunch of friends over, and I cracked open a couple of bottles of fizzy for them, I didn’t even waver. I think that goes to prove how deep the desire goes.

      Well done to you too – like I said, the next challenge may be to run a (half) marathon, but that’s a while a way yet – maybe I’ll do it when I’m 50!

      Take care
      Fi x

  2. Frank Jahloh

    January 18, 2012

    Fiona, you CAN do it! One day at a time. Good luck.

    • Fiona

      January 22, 2012

      Hi Frank

      I’ve been touched by your support – you sound like someone who’s speaking from experience!

      I’m not missing it – in fact, I have more energy (which is what I was hoping for) and more motivation and I’m loving the clear head it gives me to really concentrate on and enjoy who I am.

      Fi x

  3. Tracy Hunt

    January 18, 2012

    Hi Fiona, you are a true inspiration to many. We met just over two years ago when both of us flew out on our own to the beautiful island of Fiji, we didnt know each other until a few days into the course we were both attending. We are both strong women, had our ups and downs in the past 12 months and have probably achieved more in our lives than we give ourselves credit for. You are a beautiful person with or without the alcohol, celebrate being you and I know you will conquer all the goals you have set yourself, my support is with you always xxx

    • Fiona

      January 22, 2012

      Hi Tracy

      I feel truly humbled that you think I’m an inspiration to many – I’m proud that people feel that way about me!

      Yes, it was an interesting time in both our lives that trip to Fiji, wasn’t it? Did I ever mention that on the last day of the course I ended up swimming in the sea in the afternoon with a lady from New Zealand (Rose, her name was) in only her borrowed sarong! Needless to say, the sarong came off in the water and I ended up swimming in my birthday suit! And I was completely sober! She couldn’t lend me a swimming costume as she was a BIG lady, but she was so insistent that I come in with her to go into the sea to share in a massive breakthrough she’d had with Clinton Swaine that morning, that I found a way of getting over my embarrassment!

      I’m hoping my break with alcohol will allow me the opportunity to get to grips with who I am and what my purpose is in life to enable me to feel as energised as Rose did that day. It was quite a surreal experience – thank goodness the beach was deserted when we got out – a wet sarong doesn’t leave much to the imagination!

      Anyway, thanks again for your lovely comments – yes, we’ve had a tough time, but the old cliches are definitely the truest – what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

      Big hug x

  4. Wendy Ager

    January 18, 2012

    Thanks for sharing this Fiona. How true, ‘there are a million better things to look forward to’.

    I’ve a friend who is aiming for 100 things on his Bucket List & I’ve just written a blog on that! The simple pleasures are sometimes just as rewarding. I wonder if it might help to list them all to help you stay focused on those ‘better things’ in case you waiver!

    Us ‘Purley ladies’ will be here for you and support you,


    • Fiona

      January 22, 2012

      Hi Wendy

      I’m so glad we met. It’s been great having such a motivated, energetic, positive and successful woman as a friend, associate and chaffeur (thanks for that btw).

      I saw your blog on the bucket list and there is already one formulating in a notebook at the side of my bed! Have been thinking about that for a while too, as I get more and more in touch with my “inner self”.

      I feel privileged to be part of such an amazing bunch of women as the “Purley ladies” – your support has blown me away and your friendship is, in the words of the ad, pricesless!

      Fi x

  5. Ceri Wheeldon

    January 18, 2012

    Fiona, thank you so much for sharing this. You’re going to have to update us with your progress.

    Ceri x

    • Fiona

      January 22, 2012


      Thank you for asking me to guest blog on your totally fabulous website. I hope your readers don’t mind that I’m not quite 50 yet – my thought on this is rather than approach my 5th decade with trepidation and fear (menopause, middle-aged spread, wrinkles etc etc), I thought I’d embrace it as a time to finally be comfortable with who I and celebrate it!

      I will most certainly keep you up to date with my progress.

      Fi x

      • Ceri Wheeldon

        January 22, 2012

        Fiona, I’m so pleased you’ve shared this with us, it’s so important to be able to make changes at any age! You seem very determined and have a lot of moral support- I’m sure you’ll do it. I think you have a great attitude towards approaching 50! As you said ‘with gusto’!!


        Ceri x

  6. Lumen

    January 19, 2012


    That is awesome. I actually am in kind of the same boat. I started cutting back because I was attempting to get in really good shape. Then I started to think about many of the things you describe. Ultimately, I’ve noticed I did drink too much and am amazed at how far I’ve come. I actually feel better, healthier and happier. There’s nothing wrong with drinking responsibly and in moderation, however I like the new me 🙂
    Keep up the good work!!!

    • Fiona

      January 22, 2012

      Hi Lumen

      Thanks for your comment and I applaud your actions! I think we just get to a point where we understand our bodies are becoming a little more fragile and we need to look after them a bit better if we are at all interested in longevity and and quality of life.

      I wish I could drink responsibly and in moderation – that was the reason I gave up totally – because I couldn’t. Even now after all this time. It’s the nature of alcohol as a beast for me – if your genetic make-up is that when you have one you just can’t stop until you’ve had loads, then the only alternative is to have none. With the best will in the world, I just can’t drink responsibly! I wish I could! (My father was the same, as was his father, so it runs in the family).

      Keep up the good work – there’s nothing better than feeling, healthier and happy, and I’m all for that!

      Fiona x

  7. Helen King

    January 22, 2012


    I just do not get why we consider alcohol to be a ‘given’ – a rite of passage. It is a drink that has suckered up to us, weedled its way into our lives, as if it has a life of its own. Indeed, it holds almost human qualities and no wonder that many people hand over their power to it.

    About 8 years ago I gave up drinking completely (with the aid of a counsellor). When someone goes to pour me a glass of wine and I tell them I don’t drink alcohol, they ask why. I say quite simply it is because I used to drink too much of it.

    Undoubtedly, this was one of the reasons why I gave up my freelance career in PR & Marketing and, at age 47, re-trained as a psychotherapist. In the process, I got a job at the LifeWorks Community residential rehab in Surrey, started up a branch of Co-dependents Anonymous (sorry, not so anonymous now!) and now work part-time for ASCA (Addiction Support & Care Agency in Richmond, Surrey) and have a private psychotherapy practice, where I specialise in working with those who have addictive behaviours, especially co-dependency, which can so often sit underneath other addictions.

    Alcohol is fine and dandy if it is not controlling you. Many people are convinced they have it under control, yet continually seem to attract rubbish relationships and poor health. The question is more about what gap in your life does alcohol fill? “I’ll have a half-a-glass of life with a Pinot top – and a brandy chaser.” Cheers? No thanks, I personally have found there is so more to life than alcohol.

    My advice to anyone attempting to give up, is to not concentrate on the alcohol, but look at what is missing underneath.

    • Ceri Wheeldon

      January 22, 2012

      Helen, thank you for adding to this topic. It is so important to understand why we drink. In fact we ran another article recently looking at personailty types and how they influence our drink patterns. https://www.fabafterfifty.co.uk/2012/01/04/do-you-want-to-drink-less-alcohol/
      I spend quite a bit of time in France (husband is French) and there the emphasis is very much on the quality of the wine- hours are spent choosing the wine for each meal – each sip is supposed to be savoured and appreciated – very different to the UK. There the wine enhances the meal and adds to the experience.
      I admire you for giving up- like you I have worked in environments where the alcohol has been free flowing – it is incredibly easy to be pulled in – fortunately (or unfortunately for some reasons) I have a health issue which forces me to watch my diet carefully, so I was luvky not to be pulled in.
      As you say- it is all about you controlling the alcohol- and not letting alcohol control you! Much more important to live a full life and not use it as a crutch!

  8. d9beehive.org

    January 31, 2013

    After reading the above drug addiction statistics,
    consider the number of people that do not admit to their addictions or drug use because of embarrassment.
    Clearly he loves the place and doesn’t want to see it fall apart. The addict is prescribed a mind or mood altering drug, and they start taking the prescribed medication, and then they shortly go back to their drug of choice, even if it has been years since last using that substance. Drug abuse statistics truly are very useful when it comes to determining how big an effect the use of narcotics or scheduled medications are having on our modern day society but are they a true reflection of the epidemic which is spiraling out of control in our modern day society. t like being quoted statistics. What this may point to is an overwhelmed medical system, which limits doctors in the amount of time they can spend with each patient, and medical insurance companies who find it cheaper to pay for prescription pain medication than to pay for the therapies or surgeries which would eliminate the sources of the pain. I hope to explain some suggestions that the Search Institute have identified that can contribute to a young person’s healthy development.

    – Illicit prescription drug abuse has risen 500% from the year 1990.

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