Saskia’s ex-addicted alcoholic and motherhood stress

What do you do when alcohol is taking over your life, and you get to the bottle more than you’d like to deal with social situations? It happened to ex-sales manager Saskia van der Zee (45), until in 2017 she decided to live a sober life from now on. She visits a rehab center, stops drinking, and trades a sales job to become a coach at her own company: Happy Sober. She blogs about her experience with JAN. This week she recounts how the stress of a busy life as a young mother made her reach for the bottle more and more.

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Are you addicted to alcohol? You are a mother of three, right? It’s a question that sparks a lot of disbelief in people and still makes me uncomfortable. Well, obviously these can go together — it’s not that I picked it up.

no responsibilities

When I look at how my drinking has evolved over the past 25 years, I think I’ve missed the role of taking over somewhere. In my twenties, I lived a fairly carefree life in Amsterdam: I was mainly occupied with parties, holidays, and other distractions and didn’t focus much on my future. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do or what I wanted to become, so after making some changes, I finally completed a study to have a piece of paper in my pocket. More and more people around me started living for the little tree house monster and I noticed I had a big problem with it. My first job at a recruitment agency was very serious, but then I focused more on all the distractions around it.

The perfect picture

However, I could not get rid of the feeling of conformity to a certain image – I wanted a husband and a child when I was in my thirties. This is what happened. I got married when I was 28 and a year later our first daughter was born. After nine months of meditating and not drinking, I thought it was my turn again. I got rid of that my drinking regularly became out of control. It could happen for the better, right? Motherhood and all the responsibilities that come with it have been very difficult for me. She was ashamed of this – a good mother should be able to do all this without any problems – and quickly drank the feeling away. After the birth of our first child, I soon became pregnant with our second child. I also changed my job, moved and renovated our new home. From the outside, everything seemed to be going well, but I wasn’t thrilled and found it difficult to keep all the balls in the air. The pressure I felt or put on myself was just too intense.

“I doubted everything and constantly wondered if I was doing it right.”

In all areas of my life, I wanted to do my best, while experiencing a deep sense of insecurity and low self-esteem. I was suspicious of everything and constantly wondering if I was doing it right. After the birth of our third child – I wanted three kids because I come from a family of three – it logically became busier. I soon noticed that I wasn’t very good at managing external pressure and covering up my weaknesses. Alcohol seemed to be the answer and I used it as a reward for myself. After a busy work day with deadlines, I allowed myself some time with the bottle. If I could get the kids to and from their gym, I was allowed to go to the bar. Alcohol has become my best friend. I craved it earlier and earlier and it became more and more difficult to drink it in moderation and keep my appointments.

guilt and shame

As my kids got older, my problems became more and more apparent to them. When I got to the point where I couldn’t take it anymore and decided to go to rehab in South Africa, I told them I had to go abroad for a while. The two older ones sensed that there was more to it but couldn’t put their finger on it. They saw me drunk, but did not realize the seriousness of the situation. During my absence, the eldest of me felt very responsible and thought he should take over my role. She felt a responsibility not hers. Only then, with so much guilt and shame, did I explain the real reason for my two-month absence: I was trying to beat my alcoholism.

About Saskia

As a coach and expert by experience, Saskia van der Zee guides people with an alcohol or drug problem through her own company, Happy Sober. She helps clients find balance in life, make healthy choices, and get closer to themselves. For more information, go to And follow Saskia on Instagram at

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