Updated: Jan 5
I got out my phone on Saturday night to film our friends jumping into the new year. As the clock struck midnight, a notification popped up on the screen . "Congratulations! One Year Time without drinking!" The notification was from the Sobriety Counter app. Our faithful, virtual buddy throughout the year.
3 days into 2023, I am overwhelmed with gratitude. I am grateful for what I've discovered. For taking up the challenge without even being fully aware, at the time, of the benefits we would reap. For having found a community. For having learned so much about physical and mental health. For the opportunity to inspire others.
And yes, I am also proud. I'm proud of never once having reached for the bottle. Or said yes to that one little glass of prosecco when it was "wine o' clock".
But guess what. As one of my big sources of inspiration throughout this journey Sarah Rusbatch (@sarahrusbatch on Instagram) rightly said: "Being sober is NOT about willpower! It's about education". Learning about the damaging (and totally downplayed) effects alcohol has on our physical and mental health.
These are words I would not have dared saying a year - or even six months ago. I was determined to keep my social media posts and my conversations about alcohol "light". To only talk about tips and tricks and ‘what you could drink instead’. But, during one of our online meetings with my Danish writers' club (Klub Bare Skriv), we set intentions for the month ahead and our wonderful facilitator Charlotte (who happens to be sober) asked us: "What is holding you back"?. I replied: "The fear of being 'too much'. She then asked us: "What are you going to give yourself permission to do?". I replied: "To be 'too much'".
As I'm learning more and more about alcohol, I have realized that it is part of my quest to not just be "light" and "happy go lucky" about this. I see it as my duty to fully inform my friends and followers about a (western) world where we keep putting alcohol on a pedestal, buying into the idea that we need it in order to let go, let loose, have fun…and be fun. And trust me, being the “devil’s advocate” is not always easy. Had I come across a sober "activist" 2 years ago, I most likely would have thought "Give me a break". So, bear with me, peeps. This all comes from a place of love. Not from a place of judgment.
This first year has opened up so many doors to me and I've discovered ways of spreading the message about alcohol and an alcohol-free lifestyle that go beyond this blog.
I've written an opinion piece and an article about sober shaming. I've written about how alcohol-free true-to-taste wines and spirits are produced, I've published an ebook on Dry January, I've appeared on Danish regional television about Dry January and thanks to the initial idea and invaluable support of my friend Ling, I have organised 3 Alcohol-free Cocktail making masterclasses in Kuala Lumpur. On top of that, on an almost daily basis, I try to inspire on my dedicated Instagram profile. Had someone told me a year ago - when the thought of a 31-day break from alcohol was absolutely daunting - that I would become so passionate about this, I wouldn't have believed it!
See, even writing this, I struggle not to get into old habits of fearing that I'm 'too much'. But as I've said before (totally stole the quote btw): "Wanna know who your real friends are - stop drinking alcohol". So, if you've read this far, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You respect my decision, my advocacy and my "too-much-ness".
Finally, how can I talk about how I managed one year without drinking (and not wanting to go back to drinking) without thanking my husband Francesco? Had he not gone on this journey with me and suggested, at the end of January 2022 that we continue, I would have gone back to drinking alcohol! I am deeply grateful to him and wish for everyone who wants to go dry that they find a supportive 'sober buddy' or have a supportive partner - even if he/she is not dry.
Thank you, dear readers and followers. I remain Yours Faithfully Drunk on Life.