Skip to main content

Written by Victoria

For 25 years I slurped, necked and downed as much alcohol as I could get my hands on. I was a party girl with no off switch in sight. A merrymaker that took it upon herself to make everyone else shine like a disco ball. But, my light was out. Somewhere on my zig zaggy road, I forgot who I was. My identity was so watered down by cheap wine and warm beer that I no longer knew who lay beneath. Who was this life and soul of every party? How come I could make everybody happy apart from me?

My drinking was so common — so ‘normal’ — that it got diluted by the crowd. It was sucked up the straw of ordinary binge-drinking culture.  It meant no one could see the struggle and I became the dregs of my own life. 

By the time I married and had children, I was drenched in anxiety and fragile mental health. I had become so detached from myself, so distant from who I was, that my body was calling out for help. After a heavy night, a terrible panic-filled hangover, and a baby crying in a room nearby I knew it was time to shoot a flare in the sky and ask for help.

I knew this act would be like letting off a bomb at the center of my social life.

Then, I did the one thing I could never have imagined. I did what those awful boring people do — The ones with smug faces that do yoga at sunrise and stand at a bar with a pint of fizzy water.

I got sober. I make it sound simple. It wasn’t. There were tears in flimsy chairs in small offices with kind therapists. There were strong hugs from friends and understanding nods from strangers. But, in the end, I got there. I ditched my reliable social crutch.

The day that I decided to quit alcohol forever, I was so scared. I knew this act would be like letting off a bomb at the center of my social life. The fallout was going to be huge. 

Some were happy about my change — my binge drinking had ruined many a night out. They were fed up with carrying me to a taxi rank or holding my ponytail as I regurgitated tequila shots into a pub toilet. Others were neutral and had a stance of ‘your life, your choices.’ Others were, well, pissed off. How could I do this? How could I become one of the enemies? 

During my first year of sobriety, I tried to pander to these drunken haters. I still frequented the same pubs, hanging out with them as they got woozy and dribbly. I’d then drive them all home at the end of the night as they repeated stories in the back seat, promising to ‘do it again soon.’

Did I want to keep up this charade to be liked or gain some kind of acceptance or did I want to start being true to myself?

I even pretended to be ‘dry drunk’ when I was out — dancing, swearing and still acting extroverted in fear of rejection from the tribe. When I got home after each chaotic shit show I was exhausted. 

I remember turning to my husband one morning as I clicked ‘going’ to a Facebook invite and saying, “I’m not sure I am the same person anymore. I am still the party girl, saying yes to everything and socialising… when really, I don’t want to. I think I need to work out who I really am.”

It had been a long time coming. At 46, there are only so many times you can do a sober swan dive. However, I was tired of trying to keep up with the old me. I got out a piece of paper and pen and decided to write down what I wanted out of my newfound sobriety. I clicked my pen up and down, unsure for a moment. Did I want to keep up this charade to be liked or gain some kind of acceptance or did I want to start being true to myself?

I sat up straight and wrote down two words: ‘Own it.’

I knew it wouldn’t be easy owning the fact that I am a non-drinker. However, any other route made me feel like a fraud. I told a few people about my sobriety but never really told anyone why — that alcohol was making me sick and I wanted to change a cycle that had bled through my family for years. 

I was so scared of being rejected from my tribe or being told that I’ve ‘changed’ or am ‘boring’ now. I even held a bottle of beer on a night out, wanting mates to believe I was still who they thought I was. It was stupid. 

Sobriety feels rebellious. Life’s secret weapon is in my back pocket.

Deciding to hold to my new values, I said no to the next invite I received. 

I knew people would judge me or be disappointed, but staying home and taking care of myself for once felt good. As time passed and I felt better, I didn’t care about the opinions of others. All I cared about was right under my nose — my kids, my husband, my dog. My friends thought my sober life was as dull as dishwater but they didn’t know that internally…. I was beaming. 

My light had come back on, and I was shining from the inside out. The lack of ethanol pumping through my bloodstream meant my brain had started working, I was writing, podcasting, sleeping well, being a better mum and most incredibly, I was starting to like who I was for the first time. Giving up booze was like grabbing the shoulders of that lost party girl and telling her, “You’re safe now.” 

Being the odd one out at every social gathering I go to now is amazing. I leave when I want and I take no responsibility for others. I don’t even try to make anyone laugh. I have great conversations, authentic connections and can even backdoor it before the YMCA plays.  

Sobriety feels rebellious. Life’s secret weapon is in my back pocket.  I’m stepping up for myself for the first time ever and getting to know who I was before and after drinking alcohol. It’s liberating to take off that mask. It’s me who looks back at me in the mirror now, not a stranger.  

I know what I have chosen is right. I have learned to embrace the boring. For someone who was surrounded by bedlam wherever she went, boredom means peace.  I no longer live on a wiggly line with euphoric ups and depressive downs. My moods have been stretched out into a flat line, pulled into contentment. 

The repercussions of happiness ripple through everything. 

Learning to hold my sobriety close and own it has been the best gift I have ever given myself. It turned out that giving it up wasn’t about the booze — it was about finding out who I am beneath all the beer and bullshit. It was about not being the life and soul of every party but being the life and soul of me.

About the Author:

Victoria Vanstone is the host of Sober Awkward – A comedy podcast about two ex-party animals navigating parenting and socialising without their old buddy booze. Victoria describes herself as an all-round professional party pooper. She was forced to address her drinking habit after having children in her mid 30’s and eventually, after suffering from hangover-induced anxiety for years, decided to reach out and get therapy. Vic started writing about addiction and parenting on the day she gave up drinking and is passionate about helping others stuck in a pattern of normalised social binge drinking. Victoria is from the UK and now lives on the Sunshine Coast with her three uncontrollable children and a very patient husband. Victoria’s comedy memoir ‘A Thousand Wasted Sundays’ will be released in February 2024 published by Pantera Press. To find out more head to