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My True Story of Hope

This is my story of hope…

I celebrated my 40th birthday this year and it’s been almost two years since I’ve been in South Pacific. I’m proud to say that it’s also been that amount of time since I’ve had alcohol or an illicit substance in my blood. 

I was very much a party girl in my teens and throughout my twenties; a binge drinker to blackout from the very beginning. I took pride in being able to drink with the boys and keep up, often continuing when most others had stopped. I worked my way through most of the recreational and harder drugs on the market and by the time I turned 32, I was tired and miserable; my body was tired, my health was deteriorating and I wasn’t enjoying life. I wanted out. After a suicide attempt and a psychiatric hospitalisation I began seeing a psychiatrist who, conveniently, specialised in drugs & alcohol. I was only beginning to realise that I had a problem with alcohol even though it had become my primary food group. Battles with my meth addiction brought me to the brink of suicide again. I was miserable and desperate. I had a gaping hole of emptiness within me but no answers on how to fill it.

Substance abuse plagued my life for a few more years. I lost my licence for a year in 2010. My boyfriend at the time said to me with exasperation “can’t you see that alcohol has been a part of every bad thing that has happened to you in your life?” (and a lot had). I hadn’t seen the connection before but that simple statement rang true for me. Around that time I decided I would “cut down” and my attempts at controlling my drinking began–only there was never “just one” on social occasions. Just like any addictive substance I’d put into my system, my “one” would always turn into the unstoppable. I used to have more liquor in my espresso than coffee. I began making excuses such as needing to stay back at work late or claiming that I missed the train. Those hours that passed most evenings while I was missing dinner with my family were instead spent at the bar on the corner opposite the train station.

By the age of 37 that relationship had dissolved and his parting words were “why don’t you go to AA?” I wasn’t ready to but those words planted a seed. Things got worse for me, my shameful drunken antics hit a new low and by 2013 I knew I needed help. I also knew I needed more than a band aid treatment of simply being admitted for a period of time until the cravings passed. I needed to get to the core of what was driving this. I found South Pacific through Google and learned about the programs offered. I submitted my interest via the online form and was admitted on a Monday, the day after my 38th birthday. The sun was shining amongst soft white clouds on this beautiful autumn day only I was too sick and hung over to appreciate it. As the taxi turned the corner into Curl Curl and I looked out over the crystal blue ocean I had a wave of gratitude (and mild nausea) flow over me.

The programs and workshops offered throughout the day gave me a lot of insight into what was going on for me behaviourally. I also had the opportunity to heal some pretty dark trauma through the Changes program. As part of the weekly schedule, there was a bus that also took a group of us on weekly outings to AA & NA meetings. I followed timidly along but with a mind open enough to remain curious, though doubting this was for me. During my very first meeting, a neatly dressed woman of around my age was asked to share. She told the group what I needed to hear. The next meeting I went to, the same thing happened only from a different member. Time and time again, I heard something that resonated with me and the foundation of my recovery was laid. I was ready to start going to meetings when I returned home to Melbourne and found comfort in having somewhere to go. I wasn’t alone in this battle anymore. I had hope. That wasn’t to be my last stint in rehab. It took one more vicious 3-month relapse cycle of drugs and alcohol before I was desperate enough to do whatever it took to commit to my recovery. It was an easy decision for me to return to South Pacific even though it meant travelling interstate. By this point, I was termed a “chronic relapser” and after another 4 weeks, this time over Christmas and New Year’s Eve, I was advised by my group therapist that I should consider going to a long-term rehab centre. Logistically I wasn’t able to, so I made the commitment to myself to immerse myself in my local NA and AA groups.

Today I shared my 12th step with my sponsor. I can’t describe in words how wonderful that feels. My heart feels full. It was a process that took me two years to get through; little by little, step by step. But I made it and I don’t mind that it took me that long because it was all that I was able to do.

The skills I learned in South Pacific groups have strengthened my recovery as well as my relationships as they’ve enabled me to have difficult conversations and express boundaries in a healthier way. Sometimes I still ask my partner if I can “share a level” with him and it immediately diffuses the intensity of what I’m about to say. Because, let’s face it, it’s a weird question to ask but it highlights that I’ve got something going on for me that I have no other way of communicating and he respects that.

Having the 12 steps to work through gave me a rope to cling to when in early recovery I couldn’t see my way through the darkness. It gave me a sense of continually moving forward, even incrementally, and something to return to when my recovery felt stagnant. It helped me to learn and practice some new principles in my life and I began to accept myself as I am in all of my imperfections. And now that I have completed my step work to the best of my ability, it doesn’t feel like the end of something. Instead, I feel like I have a whole new set of guiding principles in my life. They all make sense now. At the beginning none of it did.

So, when my sponsor asked me today “why was an NA member able to reach me in a way that no one else ever had?” This was my answer: because they knew my pain. They understood the despair and misery that comes with using and they had found a way through it. Those that reached out to me had achieved recovery in their lives as a result of working the steps. I saw they were able to live and function in life; often representing the type of person I wanted to be. They gave me hope.

People who come to the rooms of AA & NA have the gift of compassion and understanding. We’ve experienced desperation and can relate to those who are suffering. Not only do we understand, but we have walked the journey as have many before us. This program allows us to have a sliver of hope for something better in our lives. It gives us something to trust in when we’ve never been able to trust before after everything else has failed. It helps us feel less like a failure and more like valuable and lovable human being in a desperate situation.

The rooms of AA and NA provide an anchor for me that I’ve never previously had and a sense of belonging. Somewhere.  Finally.

These are the gifts of recovery I’ve received as a result of first making the decision to go to South Pacific.

If you need support in your Recovery please call South Pacific Private 24/7 on 1800 063 332 or email info@southpacificprivate.com.au