Episode 3

On Giving Up Drinking

On January 21st 2013, I decided to stop drinking.
 
It was a decision a few months in the making, so by the time I made it, it was actually quite a relief.
 
I share my story and experience with everyone: I am very open about the fact that I don’t drink, I am not ashamed of it, I don’t need to justify it, but if people do ask, I let them know why.
 
And basically it was this – drinking was just not working out for me anymore.
 
And as a result I have had some very personal exchanges with my friends about their drinking habits as well. With no judgement on either side. It has been wonderful and enlightening and life affirming. And over the years, I’ve coached dozens and dozens of other people through reassessing their relationship with alcohol too.
 
As I have come to understand, the thing is never the thing. Drinking is not the thing. It is what it is hiding, covering up, what we are avoiding through the drinking. That is what we need to be able to look at. But we can’t do it while we are drinking.
 
I know that problem drinking does not discriminate, certainly not by age, not by gender, not by income and not by relationship or parental status.
So I know that my experiences with drinking are in no way unique.
 
Way back in 2013, I decided to go public with my story because I think that as a society we love the idea of drinking (as long as we don’t have a “problem”) but we are very quick to make people feel ashamed and not provide them with the support they need if they allude to or admit to perhaps having said “problem”.
 
At no point along this path have I referred to myself as an alcoholic. Labels can be very dangerous things.
 
I like to think of myself as a drinker who is not very good at moderation. I don’t beat myself up about this. I don’t feel bad about it. I just accept it.
 
A lot of us are drinking way too much and way too often. For many of us, it is a coping mechanism.
 
But it is not healthy, it is not good for us, it is costing us as individuals and as a society.
 
Our culture is completely saturated with alcohol – we use it to celebrate, to grieve, to commiserate, to reward, to self-medicate, to relieve stress, to pass the time, when we are bored, when we are happy, when we are sad, when we are angry… whatever the reason, alcohol is generally part of the equation.
 
Throughout my drinking career I had periods of minimal to moderate consumption, through to pretty heavy drinking. I was always a good binge drinker though, and my life was punctuated with extended periods of binging every Saturday night and many weekend benders.
 
I can’t remember when I first started feeling that my drinking was becoming problematic. But there were a number of events and understandings that really started to highlight some of the problems to me.
 
I was very unhappy. I felt unfit and unhealthy. I was concerned about the kind of example I was being to my kids. I suffered anxiety. I felt depressed. I didn’t have much patience. I was angry a lot of the time. I was negative and felt like the world was against me. I felt like a bad mother.
 
There was one distinct moment (well, actually there were several, but this was the clincher) when I knew that something really had to change.
It was when I realised that I was starting to look at the clock at 4pm and wonder when I could have a drink. With an absolute thirst for a wine. Even though I’d woken up that morning with a shocking hangover and an absolute resolution that I was not, I repeat not, going to drink today.
 
And I know I am not alone in this. And this is why I share my story.
 
The last several years have been the most intense, challenging, enriching, rewarding, difficult, enlightening, confrontational, joyous and scary periods in my life. And that is just the tip of the iceberg.
 
I knew from past experience of trying to cut down or cut out alcohol that it was a pretty difficult task. So I started doing some research about how I could do it and be supported. I looked into AA. It wasn’t for me.
And then I stumbled across an amazing space called Hello Sunday Morning and I started 3 month HSM which very quickly extended to a 12 month HSM, with other flawed and wonderful human beings. I backed up that first year with another 12 months, and then another. And nearly ten years later, here I am. Still not drinking.
 
Life without alcohol, for me, is such a better place. My life is amazing. And I am very grateful for it.
 
People often ask me what I did, once I’d decided. What did I do the next day, and the day after that. I knew that signing up to an online forum was not a silver bullet. So, I made some other positive changes to my life as well.
 
I started meditating daily, exercising regularly, eating well, being in bed by about 10pm each night, drinking lots of herbal tea and water and I made some very significant decisions about my personal relationships as well.
 
I found an amazing teacher and guide to help me on my path to becoming happier. I have connected to something so much bigger than me, and I recognise the role that power has played in my life at every step along on the way.
 
I started caring about Fiona of tomorrow, and making decisions and choices today that were in her best interests.
 
And I have learnt so much.
 
I have learnt that we are not alone. Our human experiences are the same. We all feel emotions and scared and lack of self-belief and insignificant and unworthy. But we are not alone. We just need to reach out and share to know that.
 
By connecting with others, and sharing of ourselves with each other, through these shared experiences, we can learn to think and feel differently of ourselves, by showing kindness and compassion for others.
 
Since I started this journey, I have had some of the most genuine and authentic connections with other people – sometimes strangers, sometimes acquaintances, some of them actually online with people I have never met – than I have ever had in my life.
 
These connections have led me to great personal growth.
 
Most people are fundamentally good. We are all just muddling on through this life, doing the best we can. Very few of us are going around the place intentionally trying to ruin other people’s lives.
 
Letting go of judgement and expectation of others is very liberating.
 
Accepting responsibility for yourself and your actions is empowering – to stop blaming, to not be the victim but to stand up and own your life. The good, the bad and the ugly. It is yours. All yours. With all its crazy colour and texture.
 
To make it a life worth living.
 
That amazing things happen when you surrender and trust that you are just where you are meant to be, that things are playing out just as they should, and to just allow yourself to go with the flow. But to be intentional about where that flow is heading.
 
Being mindful, being grateful and being very present in the moment. This has been one of the greatest gifts for me.
 
Not drinking means that there is nowhere to hide your emotions. You have to deal with them. It can be painful and hard, but getting through to the other side of that and learning how to sit with uncomfortable feelings makes you strong and aware and empathetic.
 
There is great truth to that saying “and this too shall pass”.
 
Being uncomfortable in your emotions provides the opportunity for self
awareness, forgiveness and self acceptance. This leads to self belief and self worth.
 
Doing something hard that you really have to work at and for gives you self respect.
 
And I have learnt that I am really good at my work, and I am much better at it when I don’t have a glass or two (or three) of wine in the evening. Better for me, much better for my clients. The results are speaking for themselves.
 
And on that note, keeping busy helps; having projects or activities or hobbies is a great distraction from drinking.
 
So today, as every day, I am celebrating my amazing life with a soda water and it will be wonderful. I will sleep deeply tonight and wake up with a clear head tomorrow, ready to get stuck into the day.
 
And even though I might have missed a drink every now and again, not once have I woken up and missed having a hangover.
 
So for all of you out there feeling bad about your drinking. Please know this. You are not alone.
 
But if you are feeling bad and want to fully assess your relationship with alcohol, send me a message. You don’t have to go it alone.
 
The mountain is steep and rocky, the climb can be harrowing and there aren’t a lot of handrails, but the view from the top up here is so very worth it.
 
And I know that my kids love it too.
 
Love always,
 
Fiona xxx
 
P.S If I could do this, then so can you.

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My Mission

Fiona Redding

Fiona Redding

Host

My mission in life is to share everything I have learned – and am continuing to learn – about turning my own life around and to really help you understand that happiness is to be found in the overcoming of obstacles and challenges in your life, and not in the absence of them. 

To achieve your potential in life, you need to become your potential.  And for that to be, you need to understand yourself, and learn how to harness your strengths and overcome your weaknesses.  

You have the power within you to create whatever reality you choose, and I am here to help you know that if you don’t like what you are experiencing, then you can absolutely change that.  

But you do have to choose, believe, and be open to all possibilities, and to keep showing up every day, even when it feels really hard.

If you do what is easy, your life will be hard.  But if you do what is hard, your life will be easy.