I was born into a very poor family...

I was born into a very poor family, my father a gambler, my mother mentally ill. My memories of early childhood are full of conflict and me and my two sisters were cared for by extended family quite a bit, due to my mother’s hospitalisation.

When I was seven we moved to a new house and school. We were there only a few weeks when one day I came home from school to find an ambulance at my house. It all became too much and the mother whom I adored had hung herself in the family home. Our family in tatters, we were taken to live with relatives returning two years later to be with our father.

Now living a stable life, Dad tried to bring us up the best he knew how. But always emotionally absent, I never felt particularly loved, especially as I was always the “cheeky one”. Not long after my father remarried. Their relationship was racked with illness and financial pressures. My stepmother tried to be kind but it was too much for her and she resented me and my two sisters. She used to drink and have uncontrollable outbursts of rage. She was never physically abusive but the emotional scars we still have to an extent.

When I was fifteen I left home. Always attracted to the “cool” kids I found myself drinking, clubbing and all that goes with it. At first it was binge drinking, then no-doze to keep me awake in my factory job. I was boarding with a lady and a guy moved in next door who was a dealer. Soon I found myself injecting speed and going out of my mind when I couldn’t get it. I had no respect for myself or anyone else. I would have been happy to curl up and die and be put out of my misery.

Life is empty and meaningless without someone to love you. Two things seemed to stop me in my tracks. I contracted hep B and genital warts. I could no longer shoot up or have sex; I guess I had some sense of responsibility. In this time I met my now husband. From an average family, he worked but was totally addicted to dope. It wasn’t long before we got married, smoking dope every day and when we couldn’t score we would drink whiskey. I could not cope with life at all without being “off my face”. As our relationship struggled we started using acid and speed. I could feel myself on a downward spiral once again.

About this time I met a man who was one of those Christians. I never had a problem with Jesus but I had little respect for his people which I saw as hypocrites. But one day he invited me to his church. I didn’t think much of it, but he was kind to me. He was very straight but he had time and seemed to understand me. They spoke of giving your life to Jesus and seemed to have peace with God and themselves. One night my husband and I knelt down and prayed that God in His mercy would forgive us and give us a new beginning. I can’t explain what happened, it was like someone turned the lights on. Finally we saw that out lives were of value and from that day on we have not smoked dope or used any substance to escape this world’s sad realities. I believe wholeheartedly that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who came to renew us and give us all a new beginning.

Sixteen years later I have three fantastic kids whom I adore. Two of my children have mild disabilities and life is hard and still lonely at times. There is no family support. My husband is training to be a prison chaplain, we want to bring hope to people that are plagued by their own demons. There are rare times when I think of having a drink or a bong, but what would that achieve. We have to learn to live with the reality of our own life. Thank you for this opportunity to share my story.