I remember always trying to steal a few sips of my dad’s drink from a very young age. When I was 10, at his wedding reception, I kept sneaking in a shot here and there, amongst the one’s he gave me. Looking back, I was drunk, but that night I felt ‘nothing’ – I thought I was invincible! Not long after, my dad, my step mom & my sister left the country illegally and left me behind. That same year I started a new school, moved to a new neighbourhood and my mom was never there, because she was too busy working.
I wasn’t popular in primary school, so I used it as an opportunity to recreate myself as a bad ass. I was always the one to instigate the drinking games. I started drinking every weekend. I became a successful show jumper on the one hand and a crazy party girl on the other – The rule was, I was allowed to drink, but not before shows, this was my mom’s way of keeping me in check. Drugs were off the table, because if I tested positive they would strip me of my title. I used to date a lot of boys, because it gave some kind of power. To be liked by them, was to be popular… The truth is I couldn’t even stand them stroking my arm in the cinema… It used to drive me mad!
I learnt the lesson very early that I could repress my feelings of sadness and numb out over the loss over my family, either by keeping myself so busy, that I didn’t have a second to think, or by drinking heavily. I didn’t realise either aided with the loss I was experiencing, at the time. When the days were over and the lights went out, I was left alone with my head. My inner critic would lash me. At first it was loneliness, but as the drinking progressed the shame exploded and I would torment myself with judgement. I spent hours in front of the TV, trying to drown the voices in my head. I had been an insomniac my whole life and it was just getting worse.
My sister ended up coming back after a year, which softened my mom’s opinion about me never being allowed to go and visit my dad. I visited him 3 times, every time, he asked me to stay. I promised him I would when I was 18, when I sold the horses. He passed away from a kidney infection when I was 16 (he had leukaemia and went in for a transplant 7 months after he was diagnosed) – So that day never came. Naturally I was crushed. My whole life dream was smashed and I hated myself for waiting. This paired with being an outsider in the family, sent me over the edge. My mom and my sister used to see eye to eye and gang up on me. I was just deemed the trouble maker. I was an outcast, alone again, standing in a room full of people trying to talk a language nobody understood and being punished for the things I did or didn’t do.
I started bunking a lot of school, not to drink, just to ride and do pilates and veg in front of the television and a lot of the time I used to just miss role call, so that I could go to the subjects I enjoyed and miss the rest. The headmaster called my mom before my finals threatening not to let me write them, because my attendance was so low. Outraged my mom confronted me. So I overdosed on medication. I had to have charcoal and go to a psychologist… The letter from the psych allowed me to write my exams regardless of the fact that I had missed school and I passed averagely.
I used to sneak out on weekends. My mom needed us to knock on the door when we got home, she would go back to sleep once I had knocked, so I would get my friends to wait for me and take me out again, or we would go onto the golf course and continue the party. One night my drink got spiked (I think) and my friends carried me home. I woke up naked in my bed and had no idea how I had gotten there… My mom was fuming! She had stripped off my clothes and thrown me in the shower before putting me to bed. (Why she didn’t take me to the hospital, I don’t know) – anyway, that ended the years of sneaking out quite abruptly.
I ‘came out of the closet’ when I was 18. The truth is I just got caught. My mom said she would have been happier if I had come home with a black man, over a woman… So I was definitely not the poster child for the homophobic, racist family. I had so much shame around being attracted to women, I used to have to drink myself into oblivion before I could even kiss a girl and then when I woke up, I had to drink even more to help me process what kissing girls actually meant to me. I didn’t even know any gay people and I was petrified my friends would reject me. I was a pilates instructor and when I came out to my colleagues, my boss warned me about not saying anything to clients as it might make them uncomfortable.
In short, I lived a double life. I was wild at night, expending my pent up energy on the women I was with at dark and dingy parties or I was the girl next door, who promotes health and wellness, using my best male friends as decoys at weddings and year end functions… It was fucked! Excuse my language, but I am not really sure there is a better way to describe it.
How I drank/used was determined purely on the type of girl I was seeing and what she was into. Desperate to be loved I tried to buy my lovers with extravagant gifts, good times or romantic holidays. I was desperately holding on, because when I was with a girl I could sleep at night. When they left my head would consume me. The end of 2 relationships saw the next 2 suicide attempts. I got so drunk one night, all so I could have the courage to drive my car into a wall. It left me with a compression fracture and a written off Polo. The second I overdosed again. My mom found me and I ended up in ICU for a week before getting into a psych ward. They put me on medication. I lasted 4 days. I was desperate to get out. I tried immigrating to Australia. I ended up in Perth with my family. I ballooned. I put on 13kg, before my fiancé came to get me. This was the same girl who cheated on me 12 times… Naturally she convinced me. We broke up about a month after I got back into the country.
The only thing I prayed about before I went to sleep every night was this, “God please make it end, please make the pain go away. God please let me not wake up in the morning” – I couldn’t sleep and I hated being alone. My mind was brutal and all I could think of was dying. A friend talked me into doing a conscious living course… It was incredible, it arrested the insomnia. I did it as a last resort and it worked. I was free from the negative thinking. I stopped drinking for 4 days during, but had no idea the 2 were linked.
After that the disease just got out of control. The course was great, but I took one thing too literally. That I am God in my universe. I became hellishly arrogant and totally self sufficient. I stopped dating women, grovelling at their feet and just started sleeping around. My partying was getting out of control and I was working as an instructor by day and a bartender by night. I started working the bar, because I was tired of going out and spending all my money on booze and friends, when I could work behind the bar, be the life of the party and walk out with $$ in my pocket. I took heavy drugs to sober me up every time I got drunk. I would get drunk 3-5 times in a night and still managed to pull it off… For a while.
I started oversleeping for clients and eventually I got fired from the studio and the bar job didn’t take long to follow, though I can’t really remember how that ended. My best friend did an intervention on me and pulled me away from my mess of a life, by means of another geographical. The drugs stopped (for a while), I just used to drink. 4 months and my life was back on track, until I reunited with a friend from the past. Enter the 2 year whirlwind that was my life moving backward slowly. I moved back in with my mom at 26 years old and just partied like a hooligan.
Fast forward and it was my last relationship, which brought me to my bottom. The honeymoon period was great, but things got out of hand really quickly. We had been together for a year, but in the last 2 months she started using what I was using and it wasn’t long before we had sold everything to pay for my plane ticket to Australia. Including clothes (which I didn’t even register that I might need hahaha!) – The money was going faster than we could make it and it wasn’t long before I had nothing left, not even a car. I stopped using, but couldn’t put down the alcohol and I most certainly couldn’t keep it below 4 units like my therapist suggested. The fights were dangerous and volatile. Afraid for the danger to my life and hers, I broke down to my therapist, desperate for a solution.
She suggested rehab. I don’t know if it was because of how she said it or if it was where I was at. I just listened for the first time and with the gift of desperation, was willing to do anything, because I had run out of options. I went into rehab drunk, to prove I wasn’t an addict hahaha! I had no idea! I thought I could stop whenever I wanted to, but I could never stop everything all at once. When I got to rehab I realised that for the first time in my life. I had spent 10 years trying to prove that I didn’t have a problem, all to simply mask one addiction with another. Just sitting in the groups and having the councillors explain that normal people don’t black out when they drink. This information was profound! I was like, “They don’t?” – I thought I was doing well if I made it one month without a blackout and I really thought that everybody did it. Hahaha… Whoops!
I realised it then and I have never looked back. I took my last drink 24 March 2015. I have been willing ever since to do whatever is suggested, because I am happy now. I can sleep at night. I have an incredible life. I don’t have to hide behind my lies and I am working through the internalised homophobia. I am really starting to be ok with who I am and in turn am becoming more confident showing that. Don’t get me wrong, there is still so much work to be done, but thanks to 12 step fellowships and some hard core therapy work, I am breaking free from the bonds of addiction and finding myself. That true authentic me, very rarely seen, is coming out of the shadows and shining. I am grateful. The hell is over… I can’t believe it!