Emotional sharks and dolphins

I grew up in what I call Ken and Barbie land. A middle class picture perfect Australian family. Everything on the outside looked like Ken and Barbie’s dolls house but, on the inside it was an emotional war zone. My father was a violent alcoholic, and incest was a part of life in our home. I spent my childhood dreaming about running away.


In my early teens I chose homelessness, and discovered my first drug of choice — alcohol. It was easier being abused outside of the home by strangers than within the family unit. At seventeen I attempted suicide after my first sexual experience with a boy my own age. The flashbacks to my childhood abuse overwhelmed me and this time suicide seemed like the best way of running away.

I found my own Ken doll at age 19, married and had two sons. He had a daily drug habit, and by the time my boys were aged 7 and 9, so did I. We spent almost 14 years together, much of it in a drug and or alcohol induced state.

On October 12th 1995 I “came to” one morning with vomit in my hair, broken blood vessels around my eyes from the violent vomiting the night before, drugs and alcohol next to the bed, bruises all over my naked body, and as I stood alcoholic diarrhoea ran down my legs involuntarily. I was a mess, and 33 years of age.

I decided that morning…..no more! I chose to attempt a life without drugs and alcohol — a life in recovery.

That was almost 10 years ago.

My marriage ended once I became clean and sober and after 16 months in recovery without any substances I was put into a psychiatric hospital diagnosed with chronic Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It was here I began to write. I wrote about all the emotional sharks I had encountered in my life, the worst one of all living within myself. I had done more damage to myself than anyone else and I was tired… tired of my internal shark being the CEO of my life. My shark’s language is that of self abuse, and I was so desperate to learn the language of self nurture … The language of emotional dolphins. I met my first dolphin woman at 10 days clean and sober. She spoke the language of self nurturing fluently and she was also in recovery herself. She had been to the dark places in her soul as I had and had recovered, she was living hope. My shark needed to retire and the dolphin in me needed to step up and help me learn how to live.

So I wrote … and wrote, even though I am dyslexic I outpoured my inner world. My dyslexia manifests in my ability to comprehend the written word, to read back and out loud. So I just wrote and hoped for the best. My General Practitioner actually read some of my words and urged me to get my work out into the public, so I did.

Today I am the published author of a 2002 top ten bestselling book “A Helping Hand with Life” and my latest book “Emotional Fitness” was released by Finch Publishers in August 2004. I am the CEO of the Emotional Fitness Foundation, Australia’s First national charity for the addicted and abused.

I am also an exhibited Artist, professional Speaker, and a single mother of two teenage sons. Over the past 5 years various organisations have become avid supporters of my work in the field of abuse and addiction.

I now manage Australia’s First ever Emotional Gym in the inner city of Brisbane which is a free community service and with the help of the Emotional Fitness Foundation Board of Management is working on opening an Emotional Gym in each capital city of Australia. The Emotional Fitness process was first filmed in 2002 and became an Australian Award winning documentary.

I have worked with over 4000 people struggling with addiction and abuse issues and as a result was presented with “Volunteer of the Year” in 2003 and an “An Award of Distinction for Services to Humanity” from the Australian Medical Association in 2004, as well as winning the “Local Hero” Category in the Australian of the Year Awards 2005.