I stand staring into the fridge.
Beer or wine?
I decide on wine, grape before grain, I hear the hangovers aren’t so bad if you do it that way round.
I pull the chilled bottle out from its plastic compartment in the side of the fridge, grab a glass the size of an astronaut’s helmet and pour half of the contents in.
I find myself a cosy spot in the corner of the couch and take my first sip. The liquid sends a warmness throughout my body, easing my day, taking off the edge.
No more kids, no more washing, no more school run. Just me, the wine and silence.
Half an hour later as the last droplets drip from the round rim, I find myself on my hands and knees on the kitchen floor looking in the cupboards for that old bottle of Port that was left there last Christmas.
‘I’m in the mood for just one little nightcap’, I think as my hand reaches behind the bottle of bleach under the kitchen sink.
As the stresses and strains of motherhood seep out of my slippers, I feel like me again, me before kids, the old me, the party-girl me.
Gosh, I’ve missed her.
My drinking changed when I became a mother. There hadn’t been anyone to worry about before and I found the adjustment from social butterfly to stay-at-home mummy, hard.
I quickly got bored of changing nappies and talking with rosy cheeked new mums about sleep times. It just wasn’t me.
I was the one with the wonky pram, dirty wraps and non-paleo snacks. Motherhood didn’t suit me like it did some people.
I’d thought I’d lost myself to motherhood, lost my sparkle a bit. Sitting at home on my own with swollen feet and cracked nipples, surrounded by toys that went ‘ping’, wasn’t really cutting it.
So alcohol became my release, my exit from the washing pile and back into me.
Those ‘cheeky’ evening wines became my escape from the daily grind, my companions when it all got too much, an innocent reward after a hard or boring day.
Having children gave me the perfect excuse to always be cracking open a bottle of red or be popping a cheap fizzy as soon as the house went quiet.
Tired. Wine. Bored. Wine. Grumpy. Wine. Kids crying. Wine.
The problem was, once I started, I couldn’t stop. I was the same on nights out. The last one to be prised off the dancefloor swinging my feeding bra around above my head.
I began every drinking session, before and after kids, with a head full of good intentions, and without fail, ended up with my head in a toilet. My night flushed down the bog along with a sour tasting shot of tequila.
Each Sunday morning with a stonking headache, I began to realise that my two worlds were colliding. My drinking began to have negative side effects that rippled throughout my household. Anxiety and shame crept into my hangovers. I felt guilt for what I’d done and shame because of what I hadn’t.
Then, I began missing out on things. Family days out, trips to the park, walks on the beach, time with my precious babies that I would never get back.
Too hungover to move my head, let alone push a child on a swing.
My attempts at moderation had proved I wanted to slow down but why couldn’t I achieve it?
Drinking was so ingrained in me, in my family, my culture and in my environment. Drinking was my social life and my lean-to; in fact, my entire persona was propped up by a lifelong binge-drinking habit. I couldn’t imagine a life without it. What the bloody hell would I do if I didn’t drink??
‘Quit drinking, me? You must be mad!’
But the anxiety deteriorated; it got debilitating, breaking me. With each hangover my mental equilibrium started to waver, wobble off balance.
I became lost, scared of losing my mind,
and losing my family.
Now here I am. At my computer tapping away, with a coffee to my right and a smelly dog looking up at me on my left and I’m nearly 1000 days without a drink.
Me, the party girl, the girl with the VIP passes and the front row seats, the Rockstar mum that hogged the microphone at karaoke … is now sober.
My sobriety is surprisingly undramatic. I wasn’t dragged into a rehab facility kicking and screaming. There were no family interventions. No concerned looks or rock bottoms.
It was just me and my husband 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. The living up to an outdated reputation. I was done.
The time had come for this party girl to grow up. Be the mum I was always meant to be.
So, I got help.
Therapy allowed me to see what I was made of. I had to confront old memories from my past and dig up all the reasons why I’d always felt that drinking was what made me who I am. What made me ‘Fun’.
It wasn’t an easy process; I suppose nothing worth doing is … but over time, I got there. I discovered the person underneath the thick layer of beer and bravado, and I found a person that I really rather liked. A much more ‘together’ me.
Now, Life is better.
There isn’t much bad robot dancing, or many questionable injuries. There are no weird one-night stands, panic attacks or twigs stuck in my hair, and that’s okay. I’d spent 26 years rolling around in bushed and staggering off pavements. It was time to try something new.
Since my therapy finished, I’ve learned to redefine ‘fun’. Discovered new ways of filling my cup. I do pottery and I write. I walk and I sleep. I’m happier and more content. I drink tea now, and I enjoy remembering a night out where I experience real interactions and meaningful moments. But most of all, I’m a better mum, not a perfect one, but an improved version!
So, for me, I’m looking forward – no more wine, no more anxiety and no more fake smiles.
Once the booze was soaked from my skin all that was left is the genuine me, my kids, my husband and time (Oh, and the odd bar of Dairy Milk! But that’s a whole other story!).
My kids won’t know me as a drinker, they won’t remember those days. 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 for them.
And that is everything.
Victoria lives on The Sunshine Coast with three noisy children, a very patient husband and a confused dog. She has been writing about her tumultuous journey to sobriety and motherhood for two years. 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 whilst digging into a large slice of chocolate brownie. Victoria has just completed her book ‘A Thousand Wasted Sundays’ and is trying to get it published.
You can read about her on her blog – www.drunkmummysobermummy.com
Victoria also runs a sober support network for women. Find her Facebook group at – The Sober Social – For Sober Curious Women.