Victoria Vanstone

@drunkmummysobermummy | contributor
I was an alcoholic - a binge drinker. I suffered from anxiety when hungover. Children interrupted my party. They gave me consequences. I decided to look deeper into my binge drinking and am now entering a whole new sober world.
Community Voices

Sobriety Podcast recommendation!

<p>Sobriety Podcast recommendation!</p>
1 person is talking about this
Community Voices

Sobriety Podcast recommendation!

<p>Sobriety Podcast recommendation!</p>
1 person is talking about this
Community Voices

Do you find sobriety awkward at times?

<p>Do you find sobriety awkward at times?</p>

Recovering Alcoholic: Learning How to Make Friends Sober

Today I experienced a “wapple.” A wapple, according to my 4-year-old daughter, is when you go to the park and play with someone you’ve never met before. “I love wapples mum,” she said after I’d coaxed her off the swing with the promise of an icy pole. “Yes, I love wapples too. They’re the best. Now, orange or lemonade flavor?” She amazes me sometimes. Not only had she made up the word, she’d also been confident enough to fulfill its sentiment. She walked straight up to a little boy spinning around on the roundabout and introduced herself. Then she played shops and a game of tag with him and after an hour they were holding hands at the top of the slide. A new friend was made. Before we left the boy’s mother and I did an “aren’t they sweet” fake smile at each other, I should have wappled here but I didn’t… and that was that. We headed to the shop. My daughter and I sat next to each other on a bench sucking our lollies until the ice went white. We both turned the little plastic sleeve upside down to slurp the juice at the same time. We’re so alike. “Can we have a wapple again tomorrow mum?” “Yes, of course we can,” I said, taking hold of her soft little hand. My children’s ability to make new friends is inspiring. They do it with such ease, it’s organic, a natural procedure that comes as easily to them as learning to walk. What really inspires me is that they’re themselves. No airs or graces. They don’t change their character to appease their “wapple.” They just say “hi” and it goes from there. It blossoms. As we grow older other factors seep into friendship making. Things get complicated and instead of just being who we are, we contort our personalities to become more appealing to other people. We don’t just ease into friendships like kids, we struggle through them. In adult friendships there are often certain expectations, ways we have to act or roles we must fulfill. I’m usually always trying to be the funny one and sometimes even that can bear heavy upon my shoulders. I get tired of smiling and I’m starting to run out of jokes. My frivolity is not long-term, but I always want to put my best foot forward. I think most of us do because as humans we are always searching for acceptance. Acceptance has always played a huge role in my life. It’s why I drank to access. I was always trying to fit in, to feel part of something. My desperate need to be accepted by my peers got me in all sorts of trouble, I began drinking to please, and drinking to numb out the feeling of rejection. A lose/lose scenario in the long run. Nowadays, here I am having to find a new way of gaining acceptance. I have to be appealing as a friend without the one thing I’d previously thought was my only merit, booze. It seems an impossible task. I mean, who wants to hang out with old boring sober pants? Making friends and keeping them is a hard task. Doing it sober is harder. When I stopped, I didn’t know if old friends would still like me or if new ones could handle me. I felt boring once the ethanol had drained from my bloodstream. I couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to spend time with a tea-total twerp and thought if I refused a wine at a pub I’d be dragged out by a marauding hoard. During my hedonistic drinking days, if a person had told me they were a non-drinker I probably would’ve said, “What’s wrong with you man?” and turned away with disgust. But luckily most people are much kinder than me. Time was my friend. If someone had known me long enough their feelings didn’t change. Yes, some were disappointed I wouldn’t be running amuck with them anymore, but they got over it. Time showed my friends that I was serious, and time showed me that they were too, and we lasted. They accepted drunk me and they accepted sober me. My soul sisters, that never judged, that sipped colorful cocktails and said “cheers” as they clinked their glasses against my tumbler of fizzy water. Time was enough. Making new friends is complex. Sober friending is difficult, yet, I know in the long term it will be much more rewarding. I’ve had to update my tactics, learn new ways of creating a connection. Things have changed. I can’t bond over wines or have long slurring chats next to dirty dance floors. I can’t even invite someone round for drinks, I imagine they’d rather be hanging out with people who drink, people they know and can relax with. I know two years ago I would have swerved a friend that didn’t drink. Not because I didn’t like her, but because someone not drinking was far too close to the bone, too reflective of my own behaviors. Also I didn’t trust people who didn’t neck wines, I thought they were smug and righteous and would have dobbed me in for stealing their grandmother’s 29-year-old port from the cupboard under the sink. Sober people were not on my radar, I never took a moment to consider them or their reasons why. Now I have become someone I would have avoided and, to be honest, it’s a strange place to be. It’s like living in the pause between a joke and a punchline. There is a very awkward silence in which I’m trying to be the old version of me and the person I truly am. I’m struggling to know if I can be accepted at all. I think making new friends for me is going to me a much slower process than it used to be. People will have to get to know me over time, without wine. A slower pace of friendship will suit me now. One with no trying to impress and no showing off, I just need a “time will tell” kinship, nurtured through kindness and mutual respect. Making friends sober is another tricky part of this zig zaggy journey and even though it feels daunting, I’m slowly learning who this social version of me is, how she acts, how she fits in and what socializing actually is… without alcohol. So, I apologize if I don’t come to parties, and I’m sorry if I don’t stay for the stripper, but I will be here with a paracetamol and a big glass of water the morning after and I’ll be here to go for a coffee and big long walk on the beach. I’m still here but I’m different, that’s all. I just might need time… and maybe the odd wapple.

Recovering Alcoholic: Learning How to Make Friends Sober

Today I experienced a “wapple.” A wapple, according to my 4-year-old daughter, is when you go to the park and play with someone you’ve never met before. “I love wapples mum,” she said after I’d coaxed her off the swing with the promise of an icy pole. “Yes, I love wapples too. They’re the best. Now, orange or lemonade flavor?” She amazes me sometimes. Not only had she made up the word, she’d also been confident enough to fulfill its sentiment. She walked straight up to a little boy spinning around on the roundabout and introduced herself. Then she played shops and a game of tag with him and after an hour they were holding hands at the top of the slide. A new friend was made. Before we left the boy’s mother and I did an “aren’t they sweet” fake smile at each other, I should have wappled here but I didn’t… and that was that. We headed to the shop. My daughter and I sat next to each other on a bench sucking our lollies until the ice went white. We both turned the little plastic sleeve upside down to slurp the juice at the same time. We’re so alike. “Can we have a wapple again tomorrow mum?” “Yes, of course we can,” I said, taking hold of her soft little hand. My children’s ability to make new friends is inspiring. They do it with such ease, it’s organic, a natural procedure that comes as easily to them as learning to walk. What really inspires me is that they’re themselves. No airs or graces. They don’t change their character to appease their “wapple.” They just say “hi” and it goes from there. It blossoms. As we grow older other factors seep into friendship making. Things get complicated and instead of just being who we are, we contort our personalities to become more appealing to other people. We don’t just ease into friendships like kids, we struggle through them. In adult friendships there are often certain expectations, ways we have to act or roles we must fulfill. I’m usually always trying to be the funny one and sometimes even that can bear heavy upon my shoulders. I get tired of smiling and I’m starting to run out of jokes. My frivolity is not long-term, but I always want to put my best foot forward. I think most of us do because as humans we are always searching for acceptance. Acceptance has always played a huge role in my life. It’s why I drank to access. I was always trying to fit in, to feel part of something. My desperate need to be accepted by my peers got me in all sorts of trouble, I began drinking to please, and drinking to numb out the feeling of rejection. A lose/lose scenario in the long run. Nowadays, here I am having to find a new way of gaining acceptance. I have to be appealing as a friend without the one thing I’d previously thought was my only merit, booze. It seems an impossible task. I mean, who wants to hang out with old boring sober pants? Making friends and keeping them is a hard task. Doing it sober is harder. When I stopped, I didn’t know if old friends would still like me or if new ones could handle me. I felt boring once the ethanol had drained from my bloodstream. I couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to spend time with a tea-total twerp and thought if I refused a wine at a pub I’d be dragged out by a marauding hoard. During my hedonistic drinking days, if a person had told me they were a non-drinker I probably would’ve said, “What’s wrong with you man?” and turned away with disgust. But luckily most people are much kinder than me. Time was my friend. If someone had known me long enough their feelings didn’t change. Yes, some were disappointed I wouldn’t be running amuck with them anymore, but they got over it. Time showed my friends that I was serious, and time showed me that they were too, and we lasted. They accepted drunk me and they accepted sober me. My soul sisters, that never judged, that sipped colorful cocktails and said “cheers” as they clinked their glasses against my tumbler of fizzy water. Time was enough. Making new friends is complex. Sober friending is difficult, yet, I know in the long term it will be much more rewarding. I’ve had to update my tactics, learn new ways of creating a connection. Things have changed. I can’t bond over wines or have long slurring chats next to dirty dance floors. I can’t even invite someone round for drinks, I imagine they’d rather be hanging out with people who drink, people they know and can relax with. I know two years ago I would have swerved a friend that didn’t drink. Not because I didn’t like her, but because someone not drinking was far too close to the bone, too reflective of my own behaviors. Also I didn’t trust people who didn’t neck wines, I thought they were smug and righteous and would have dobbed me in for stealing their grandmother’s 29-year-old port from the cupboard under the sink. Sober people were not on my radar, I never took a moment to consider them or their reasons why. Now I have become someone I would have avoided and, to be honest, it’s a strange place to be. It’s like living in the pause between a joke and a punchline. There is a very awkward silence in which I’m trying to be the old version of me and the person I truly am. I’m struggling to know if I can be accepted at all. I think making new friends for me is going to me a much slower process than it used to be. People will have to get to know me over time, without wine. A slower pace of friendship will suit me now. One with no trying to impress and no showing off, I just need a “time will tell” kinship, nurtured through kindness and mutual respect. Making friends sober is another tricky part of this zig zaggy journey and even though it feels daunting, I’m slowly learning who this social version of me is, how she acts, how she fits in and what socializing actually is… without alcohol. So, I apologize if I don’t come to parties, and I’m sorry if I don’t stay for the stripper, but I will be here with a paracetamol and a big glass of water the morning after and I’ll be here to go for a coffee and big long walk on the beach. I’m still here but I’m different, that’s all. I just might need time… and maybe the odd wapple.

Reaching Out for Help and Finding Sobriety as a New Mother

I heard the baby crying again. I didn’t get up. I stayed, hiding in my bedroom. He needed me, but I couldn’t do it. I was too hungover. Again. I don’t remember getting home. The last thing I recall was seeing both my hands outstretched in front of me clutching two huge jugs of Sangria. The red liquid lapped over the sides as I declared triumphantly, “It’s two for one!” to my wasted, smiling friends. My life had always been one big party. I was a social drinker extraordinaire. A binger who never drank alone and never went home early. I wouldn’t have described my drinking as a problem. I thought I was just like everyone else, overdo it on Saturday then feel like crap on Sunday. That’s normal, right? Wasted hungover days were as ingrained as my drinking habit. My drinking felt ordinary, typical. You wouldn’t have picked me out as an alcoholic, you’d have thought I was great company. My addiction was clever, absorbed into everyone else’s, diluted by the crowd. I had my first child at 34. Mother’s nights out catapulted me into a whole new style of heavy binge drinking. The mundanity of motherhood and the long gaps between piss-ups accentuated my indulgence. By the time a night out was upon me, I was ready to get annihilated. I was expected to be tucking in and singing lullabies, and instead I went out dancing on speakers in a dodgy underground nightclub. Weeks would pass of being a good mummy. I had the right snacks, the softest cotton wraps and a sporty three-wheeled pram. I’d fought my way out of germ-infested play pits and had wipes on hand for any unpredictable leaks, drips or explosions. On the outside, I was doing well at my new role. But inside I was hurting, mourning the loss of that fun party girl I knew, the one who linked arms with strangers and did bad 80s robot dancing. I wanted to go out and be me again. Drunk me, the only me I knew. Mum’s nights out became my escape… I heard the crying again. There was no point in feeding him; my milk was toxic, spoiled. The sun shone through the bedroom window, cutting the room in half. As I closed the curtains, a sudden flashback came to me from my blackout, an image of stumbling around in the bathroom with my bra shoved down around my waist, demanding my husband hand the baby over. I was covered in vomit. “Get in the bath” he’d said. I sat in the empty bath as my husband put the baby to bed with a bottle. He then plugged the hose in and sprayed me down, fully clothed, like a zookeeper washing a muddy elephant. I saw lumps of sick lodged in the drain…. The embarrassing memory stung my heart, guilt creeping into my bones. Panic kicked in and filled my body with negativity. I began the slow, painful demise into my hangover. My mind took over and led me down a dark, frightening path. I envisioned dreadful ways I might die; irrational thoughts filled my soul. It wasn’t meant to be this way. I meant to do better, be better. I thought I’d be able to carry on being me, a rockstar mum who partied till dawn, got the kids mohawks and wore ripped jeans. This motherhood thingy was ruining my fun, interrupting my hangovers. Giving me consequences. I sighed as I heard the front door open and close. I guessed it was my family going out, doing fun stuff without me. Joining them wasn’t an option. I was too broken. Instead, I chose to lay there in my pit of self-hatred and discontentment, hoping to fall asleep. Sleep didn’t come. Only questions did… Why do I keep doing this? Why do I keep doing something I hate? What’s wrong with me? My anxiety worsened every time I went out on a bender. Being the drunkest person at every pub, club or wake for the previous 26 years was catching up with me. I was losing my sparkle, struggling with terrible panic attacks and low self-worth. I felt depressed, lost and had no idea how to stop. I tried slowing down. I failed at moderation. I drank waters between gins and ate carbs before big nights. Dry July’s dribbled down the drain along with my own sour-tasting bile. None of it worked. Then the baby. That perfect little bundle of human who was crying beyond my bedroom door had me questioning my drinking. Questioning my whole life. I had a baby to look after now. It was overwhelming. Me in charge of a life; it seemed ridiculous. I had to do better. Laying there that afternoon, smelling like a brewery with a bucket of sick next to me, I knew the time had come. I stood up, put on my bathrobe and plodded into the lounge. My son was eating spaghetti in his highchair. I leaned down and gave him a kiss on his forehead and whispered I was sorry. I plonked myself down on the couch next to my husband and said, “I want to stop drinking. I think I need help.” Ten words. That was all it took. At last, I’d taken responsibility for my drinking and admitted that, perhaps, I had a problem. My husband took my hand and promised to support me. He said he hated seeing me so unwell and he told me he loved me. The next morning, I searched online for help. I reached out. I found a local counseling service and dialed the number. “Hello, I’m Vicky. I’m a mum who hates binge drinking but can’t seem to stop. Can you help me?” I thought she was going to laugh and say, “Sorry love, we only deal with real alcoholics here.” But she didn’t, she said, “Yes, we can help with that.” I booked an appointment. That exact moment is when my sober story began. Reaching out saved me, therapy cracked me open and helped me understand my reasons why. One sunny Saturday, a few months after my therapy finished, I asked my husband, “What shall we do tomorrow?” It sounds like a simple statement, but it was the first time in my adult life I’d considered doing something on a Sunday. It was the moment I became an available parent instead of a drunken one. It’s official, I’m now a better mum. A mum of three who’s determined to never waste a Sunday again. It’s been two years since I stopped drinking and I’m happier in every single way. I don’t struggle with anxiety anymore and I feel healthy. I’m not leaning on booze to get me through. Quitting made me realize how much I’d been missing out on. Now I look forward to weekends and I celebrate by having a Virgin Mojito instead of necking shots. It’s better that way, for everyone! I’m over being the party girl; I’m better off just being me. I know there are many women stuck in this Pinot Gris purgatory, somewhere between the pub and an AA meeting. I hope my story will help them understand that any problem, no matter how big or small, is worthy of attention. Reaching out and getting help from a therapist, psychologist or even a close friend can help you get better. Follow this journey on A Thousand Wasted Sundays

Community Voices

Becoming Sober Curious

A Sober Curious person is someone that is questioning their drinking  habits’
I hadn't heard of it either until 6 months ago when I was already 18 months sober. I didn't know that there were others like me. Others that questioned.
I was in my local book shop mooching along the aisles trying to find something, anything about addiction. I asked the lady at the counter in a quiet voice,
'Do you have any books on alcoholism?'
'I'm sorry I can’t hear you... what's was that? botulism?'
'Er, no ALCOHOLISM, you know... people that drink too much' I said far too loudly.
I felt heads turn my way and saw eyes appear over the top of open books.
'Oh, sorry yes, come with me'
I followed her to the back of the shop to the self-help section.
'Have a look here' she pointed to The 12 steps and a book about brewing your own beer.
'Thanks, I'll have a browse'
As she walked away I imagined what was going on in her brain,
‘That woman has a baby in a pram and is looking for books about alcoholism. How awful’
She probably thought what a terrible person I was. The scenarios swilling around in her head would have been if rock bottom moments. Me, drunk in charge of a little one whilst lying in a pool of sick. Lowest of the low situations. She probably wanted to call a helpline or ask me politely to leave.
I wanted to grab her and pull her back and explain that I wasn't like that. My sort of drinking wasn't like that. I felt the need to justify myself to her. I didn't - I let her go and left her with her thoughts. I sat down cross-legged next to the row of books about booze. As I pushed one book onto the other they made a thumping sound. I rejected each one based on the title.
Giving up Alcohol with the Help of God
God gave wine
And something called Spirit Junkie.
I’m sure they were all good reads and had their place in the recovery book market but they weren’t for me. I’m not spiritual and I don’t believe in God. I believe in science and I have a very sapien gait.
I kept flicking through and was annoyed when nothing jumped off the shelf. Giving up drinking can be a lonely time and on the floor of the bookshop with my pram looming over me, I felt like there was no one out there like me.
I got to my feet and was heading to the door when a gentle hand landed on my forearm.
‘Excuse me?’
It was the girl from the counter.
‘Have you read this?’
It was a book called Sober Curious by Ruby Warrington.
‘I used to drink too much’ the girl said.
‘This book helped me understand my habits’
I instantly felt awful, she hadn’t been judging me earlier, she was concerned. I took the book from her hands and thanked her. Our eyes met briefly, and it was clear that this moment was special. I felt a warmth, a knowing, pass between us. It felt nice.
I turned the book over and read the back. I was shocked. It could have been me.. She was questioning her drinking habits. She knew she could be better - without alcohol. I was inspired.
I'd found my tribe.
www.drunkmummysobermummy.com