Victoria Vanstone is a British-born mum who describes herself as, ‘Living on The Sunshine Coast in Australia with three noisy children, a very patient husband and a confused dog’.
She has been writing about her journey to sobriety and motherhood for the past 2 years.
She says, ‘When she isn’t at her computer, you can find her crying alone in the shower or hiding from her children at a local cafe with a peppermint tea and a large slice of chocolate brownie’.
Here, she shares her her journey on becoming a sober mum.
Over to Victoria…
When one wine isn’t enough, and two is too many.
As she opened the fridge, she heard the clink of the bottles. They banged together in the snug compartment inside the door. The noise made her mouth water. She reached in and grabbed the cool bottle neck. Her touch allowed little droplets of condensation to escape and dribble down the sides. She lifted it out and reached up above the sink to find her favourite glass, the one that could have been mistaken for a goldfish bowl, and twisted the lid. As the liquid glugged out, filling the huge vessel, she felt a sense of relief envelop her entire body.
No more kids, no more washing, no more school run. Just her, the wine and silence.
This was me. The mother that drank because the kids were annoying, because I was bored of changing nappies, because I’d lost myself to motherhood. Those evening glasses of wine became my escape from the daily grind, my companion when it all got too much. There was always an excuse to crack open a bottle of red or pop a cheap fizzy.
Tired: wine. Bored: wine. Grumpy: wine.
The problem was, once I started, I couldn’t stop.
Evenings that began with a head full of good intentions, without fail, ended with a head in a toilet. I was one of those drinkers that couldn’t stop once she started, whose nights out were flushed down the bog along with a sour-tasting shot of tequila.
I’d always been a drinker, an invincible party girl with no consequences. Being a boozer was how I’d chosen to represent myself throughout my life. I was a reliable drinking partner, a girl that knew the best clubs, bars and punch-lines. I was fun I suppose. A never-ending conga line of laughs and lager.
But, when the kids came along, my drinking changed, the long gaps between nights out actually accentuated my indulgence, I went heavier on Mum’s Nights Out and found myself leaning on wine every evening to relieve the stresses and strains of my day.
I tried, for years, to drink and parent. But each Sunday with a stonking headache, I began to realise that my two worlds were not compatible. My drinking began to have negative side effects that rippled throughout my household.
Anxiety and shame started to creep into my hangovers. Guilt became my only emotion. I was failing, unable to parent when hungover. I began missing out on things: family days out, trips to the park, time with my precious babies that I would never get back.
My drinking was getting in the way of my parenting, making me unavailable and filling me with regret. And with regret came the questions,
‘Why do I keep doing this to myself?’
Drinking was so ingrained in me, my culture and my environment, that I could not see a way out,
‘Quit drinking, me? You must be mad!’
But, as I sit here, at my computer with a coffee to my right and a smelly dog looking up at me, I’m nearly 1000 days without a drink.
Me, the party girl, the hostess with the mostest, that Rockstar Mum… is now a Sober Mum.
My sobriety is completely undramatic. I wasn’t dragged into a rehab facility. There were no family interventions. It was just my husband and I standing in the kitchen one Sunday afternoon,
‘I can’t do this anymore’ I’d said to him
‘I need help’
My rock bottom was that I’d had enough. Enough of it all, the anxiety, the shame, the hangovers, the feeling like I always had to be the drunkest person in the room. I was done.
The time had come for this party girl to grow up.
I got therapy, I found the Sober Curious Community, I read books and listened to every sobriety podcast under the sun.
I spent time, when I would have been drinking, learning about why I had been drinking all of my life.
It wasn’t an easy process.
Confronting memories from my past had to be dealt with, and other wiggly worms had to be dug up, but I got there.
Becoming a sober parent was a long and bumpy road but realising that my drinking had become a toxic entity in my life was the start, and every journey has to have a beginning.
Now I’m a sober mum and I’m proud.
Life is better.
I admit, there isn’t as much Karaoke or bad robot dancing but I’m happier, more content. I drink tea now, and I enjoy remembering a night out and having real interactions. Sober isn’t boring at all – It’s better in every single way.
My kids won’t know me as a drinker, they will never have to see me slurring my words or moaning with my head in a toilet. They won’t see ‘that’ me. All they will know is – I’m there, I’m available and present, and that is everything.
To reach that point, I had to listen to my body and learn how to treat it with respect. I had to be kinder to myself in order for me to become a better mum.
So, if your questioning those ‘cheeky’ wines and if (like me) one isn’t enough and two is too many and you’re feeling in need of change, then maybe it’s time to take the first steps and start the journey away from drinking? No matter how big or small your problem feels … it is worthy of help.
Therapy taught me how to be my true self, my booze -free self without the fake smile. It taught me that the genuine me was enough, and that there was another way, a sober way.
No more wine, no more anxiety and no more drunk mummy.
Just me, my kids and time.
(Oh, and the odd Lindt ball! But that’s a whole other story!)