The living hell

I grew up feeling different from a very early age. I thought it was because I was from a poor, migrant family and we had different foods, ideas and drinks to Aussie families. Where as my neighbours drank tea and coffee, had cereal for breakfast, and took to school vegemite, jam or ham sandwiches,

our family had large mugs of strong coffee with bread broken up in it for breakfast and we either came home to eat lunch made up of salami sandwiches or pasta that we had eaten the night before. We also made our own wine which the adults drank in place of tea and coffee in our household, cured our own meat and had lots of visitors who were mostly rowdy and consumed lots of alcohol and argued loudly while they played cards — the menfolk. The other reason I felt different was because I was the only girl, having been born 6 years apart from the rest of the familywho were all 18 months or less apart in age and I used to think I was adopted. And as I reached my teens, I remember quite clearly wondering if maybe I was an alien of some sort because I didn't feel like I fitted in anywhere, and I had been put in this place so that 'they' (whoever they were) could observe how I interacted with 'real' people! I'm telling you this because I NEVER felt normal, ever, from as far back as I remember. And alcohol abuse in our family is the norm, well 50/50 — 4 of 8 people had a drinking problem. But that's another story!

At seven or nine, I had my first taste of home made wine and I loved the feeling it gave me, I still remember the happy warm glow I felt when I had it, and from then on I chased that feeling. At around 9, I had a trip overseas with my dad to a world I knew nothing about and he literally abandoned me to visit old friends and relatives and left me with people I hardly knew. My dad adored me, and his intention wasn't to hurt or neglect me but I really believe I was traumatised from the experience of being away from my family for three months, amongst people I didn't know in a world so unlike ours.If I have to choose a turning point in the 'decline' of my life — it would be that point in time. NOTHING was ever the same, my school work, my home life, nothing. Somewhere in that time too was an 'incident' of molestation with a male neighbour up the road — of course at the time and for many years I had noidea that was what had happened. As I grew up, I continued my love affair with alcohol, then followed a near fatal illness that left me badly scarred, and at 14 being molested by one of my brothers. Then marijuana came along too, and boys, promiscuity, more alcohol, and at 16 losing my father. I was already binge drinking by then because two things stand out about that year — going out on my 16th birthday and having a blackout and to this day not knowing where I went, and another time being at my fathers grave sight bawling my eyes out, drunk as a mute! I wish I could say they were rare instances, but by 16, no nice girls wanted to hang around with me and I had a reputation of being an easy sort among the boys and I hated myself so much.

There began one emotionally abusive relationship after another, lots of binge drinking and dope thrown in for good measure but dope I could do without. At 21, I did a geographical to another state, where I tried to become a respectable person, my drinking was probably no better but being sunny north Queensland and hanging around with army guys, no one was any the wiser — including myself. I ended up married to a personI thought was the man of my dreams, and ended up being the most dysfunctional, insecure relationship possible, ending in violence, broken promises, so much hurt and pain,and eventually led to total loss of any shred of confidence I had left. There-in started the round of psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, you name it!!! – but I couldn't break through the cycle!– probably because I hadn't completed the cycle!

At 28, I met a really decent man, the father of my child, also a big drinker, and at 30 we got married and lived in Canberra but our relationship was far from healthy. Neither of us realised I had a problem, as he was also ex army and liked to throw down a few tinnies and we used alcohol a lot to bridge the communication gap. By the time I reached 34, life wasn't turning out as I'd hoped, I had a 2 year old daughter who I adored — our little miracle (I was told that due to all the surgery I had when I was younger, I would not be able to conceive), was in a marriage I felt trapped by, had my alcoholic mother living with us, and felt really discontent and like that hole in my gut that had always been there was growing.

In my 'wisdom', I thought it was time to train myself to drink a bit more, and that was the beginning of the end! I left my husband a few years later which allowed me to drink as much as I liked, I left my job and eventually I moved to Brisbane. Life became less and less manageable. I asked my brothers to take my mum, I got into relationships with really emotionally abusive men, drank 24/7, I tried to repeatedly commit suicide — all of which my daughter of 10 at the time had to witness and sometimes ring ambulances for. I tried rehabs, detoxes, tablets to take away the cravings, had to put my daughter into temporary foster care for six weeks, ended up homeless, bankrupt — spiritually and emotionally, lived with another practising alcoholic and eventually lost my families support andmy mother died. But I never lost my connection to my self help group throughout the last year of my battle with alcohol, (I had a period of 8 months sobriety previously) and the people who I had met and had become my family stood by me when I went back for one more try! And as crazy as it sounds, I think I had to lose everything in order for me to gain my life and what an amazing life I have today!

Two and half years of sobriety, two years of intense therapy with the most amazing Therapist! And my god it's been hard, when I first got sober and I had to really FEEL things for the first time, it was so hard, and the guilt and shame was so hard to face but I knew if I didn't — it would take me back to where I'd been and I never want to go back! And the madness, it was so hard getting use to not living with chaos in my life, because chaos was all I'd ever known — I felt comfortable with drama, it was when things where normal that I felt on edge. But not today, today I have a job I love, I have a beautiful and happy 12 year old daughter who trusts me, a relationship with a man that is neither co-dependant, nor abusive, a life better than I have ever known. As for my family, I believe if I hadn't lost everything I wouldn't be where I am today and anyway — now I have a new family and who knows what the future may hold, I mean who would have thought I could be sober for more than a day!!! One day at a time I say — that's all we can do, but God life's good!