This is freedom

I feel amazingly excited to be asked to share my story and wonderfully strong to be able to tell it. Before going into the rehabilitation program I could not have done this. The shame and embarrassment I felt was huge.

I still feel the shame and embarrassment occasionally but I also feel great pride in what I have achieved.

BY the time I was 13 years of age I had been sexually abused for many years and was so emotionally damaged that I turned to alcohol (which was readily available) to block out the pain, the anger and the humiliation. I grew up in an area where drugs were everywhere and easy to get, so I was soon using marijuana as well.

At the age of 21, addicted to alcohol and ‘pot’, I got married. I had my beautiful son when I was 23 and 10 months later I fled my marriage. I experienced horrendous domestic violence in my next relationship at which time I was prescribed benzodiazepines. When I couldn’t get more sedatives I found ‘speed’. In my more lucid moments I realised that my life and that of my son’s was pretty well in ruins. I remember one day saying a prayer asking for help. Somehow I found the rehabilitation centre. I was 28 years old and desperate.

I entered the Residential program in June 2000 to start my healing. I was terrified but the staff and residents were so caring and welcoming that I hesitantly started my journey of healing and self discovery. After three weeks in the Therapeutic Community I was able to go into a particular Program (specifically for women with children) and have my son with me. We lived in a self-contained cottage and whilst I continued with my rehab program my son went to day care. I was not only working on my own healing but I was also learning wonderful parenting skills so that my son could start to heal as well.

I learned so much in the six months I spent at that program. I learned such things as anger management, relationship and communication skills and relaxation techniques. I did Yoga and journal writing which helped me develop the spiritual side of my life. I learned to trust and now I have some true friends and a wonderful support network.

Since leaving the Program I have set up a home for my son and me and I have taken out a personal loan for a car (a huge step). I help at the school canteen and attend my self help group meetings 4 to 6 times a week as well as continuing my counselling at the rehab outpatients.

I feel that through the program I have a new chance at life and I have choices. I walk one foot in front of the other — this takes not just a day or a week but a life time journey of discovering myself and who I am. I have been given a gift — it’s frustrating and it’s exciting but it’s about believing in ME. I have freedom.

Thank you so much to all of you who support the rehabilitation centre and to all the beautiful, caring staff.

Sue

Perth - WA