Most Sundays, I felt like I was dying.

I’d sit up in bed with two fingers on my neck, trying to feel my heartbeat. It was always fast. So fast that I thought it might spontaneously combust. Explode in my chest. Hangovers made me irrational like that. My brain got all negative and all my squishy happiness got kicked out for a day.

I spent Sundays walking back and forth to the bathroom, where I used to kneel on the cold tiled floor with both hands gripping the rim of the toilet. I spent those days retching a sour tasting bile up from the pit of my gut, my back arching as I heaved. When I was done, I carefully folded a piece of toilet roll and wiped the seat. I wanted to make sure there was no evidence, no speckles of vomit dappled anywhere. Then back to bed.

If my husband or children came in to visit me, I was all smiles.

‘Hello sweetie, did you have fun at the park?’

I’d pretend that I wasn’t feeling well.

‘Mummy’s a bit poorly today,’ I’d say in a happy tone, as I leant over to grab the paracetamol on my bedside table.

As soon as I heard the front door click shut, I’d lie down and close my eyes and wish I was dead. I knew I should have been out with them, but I was incapable. I’d gone out for a Mums night out instead, knowing it would ruin my Sunday. Sure, I’d made promises to myself not to overdo it. But I did—I always did.

I hated myself for it. I used to lay in bed all day, thinking about how I was failing. Failing as a mother, as a wife and as a human.

But still, on I plodded down my well-trodden path…

Continuing my destructive pattern.

Drink, Panic, Happy Hour.

As my anxiety shifted early on in the week, I’d find myself thinking about getting blotto again. I deserved it: that was my excuse. I deserve to drink because it is my reward for being such a brilliant, hardworking mum. By Thursday, hangover forgotten, fear replaced by confidence, I was ready to get the party started again. I was calling friends finding out which bar had a happy hour and cracking open that cheeky third bottle of wine during a quiet night in with my husband.

The problem was that drinking was so ingrained in me that I simply didn’t know another way. I never contemplated another way of being. People expected me to drink and I used alcohol to fit in, celebrate, commiserate and numb out.

Even though my hangovers were so bad that getting sectioned would have been better than a trip to the park with my kids, I still repeated the same tiresome routine every weekend.

This went on for years.

Drink, Panic, Happy Hour.

Drink, Panic, Happy Hour.

There was no rock bottom. No one found me in a gutter slugging from a bottle of JD, having pissed myself. Sometimes, it doesn’t have to get that far down the track, luckily. It was a slow burn. A pile of misery stacked up over years led me to getting help. In the end, I had to admit that no matter how hard I wanted to moderate—to be the one that went home early to be there for my kids—I wasn’t able to do it.

I didn’t tell anyone I was struggling, because my drinking habits were so normal. A social binge drinker. A fun time party girl. I didn’t stand out of the crowd as having a problem.

So I took myself on a private journey, an excursion to find out why. Why was I continuing doing something I hated? Something that was making me sick, and, worst of all, costing me precious time with my family?

I reached out for help, and someone took my hand.

Over 12 weeks, I learned that people are very capable of change. Humans can evolve. We can break free from lifelong habits and get better.

Now, I am the one pushing my children on the swings at that park. I changed. I evolved.

And I got better.

Victoria Vanstone
Author

Victoria is a British-born mum that lives on the Sunshine Coast in Australia with three naughty children, a very patient husband and a confused dog. She has been writing about her sobriety for two years. You can follow her zig-zaggy journey on her blog, drunkmummysobermummy.com. Victoria is currently working on her first book about breaking free from being a hung-over parent.

3 Comments

  1. Bill Niblock Reply

    Thank you Victoria, I can really relate to this article. I have been dependent on drink all my adult life, I don’t drink every day but on a regular basis my body craves it. If I get through 2 weeks without this craving I’m lucky. I drink when I’m happy, sad and indifferent, it gives me confidence and helps clear my mind of anxiety and dark thoughts. Once I start it’s hard to stop and as you say the hangovers are terrible and my problems and self loathing become heightened. It’s hard for people like us who are not openly seen to have a problem and have peer groups who enjoy drinking
    Best wishes
    Bill

  2. Thank you for writing and posting your article. Your story is my story. Your Sunday morning was mine, except I was usually sitting in church with the shakes, hoping I didn’t have to run to the restroom to throw up or have diarrhea. After a couple of instances of having to get intravenous fluids for hangovers, I decided God was telling me it was time to ease up. I really couldn’t drink anything, not even one glass of wine, without getting sick.

    Our middle child entered rehab for drugs about a year or so after I stopped drinking. When we had to agree that we would be a sober house, I was willing and able, having already conquered that demon with God’s help. And thanks to God, our son has been sober over 18 months now. Keep pushing those swings and being there for your kids!

  3. Hi, my name is Victoria and l identify with that article, so much, so THANK YOU. AA was the only place to crawl to at end…

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