I started drinking alcohol when I was 13 to deal with the pressures of my parents high expectations and feelings of abandonment.
I was sent away to boarding school at a young age and I felt like my parents were hiding me because I didn’t conform to their impossibly high standards. I wasn’t the “yes sir, no sir” child they wanted me to be.
I’d come home on school holidays and I remember my parents would host dinner parties. After everyone left I’d always sneak down and drink whatever was left in the bottles. I enjoyed the taste.
My drinking was never really a problem in my teens, but it slowly started to increase over the years.
With my relationship with my parents in tatters I moved to New Zealand and started a new job. One day my colleague and I were robbed and I was left traumatized. As a way to cope I started drinking even more.
About six months later I started a new job and I was really enjoying life. My drinking tapered off but 10 years later I started again. I was stressed, I was emotionally burnt out from the job and I suffered an injury and couldn’t work, so I turned to the one thing that has always helped me to cope.
It didn’t end well. Suddenly having no job meant more time to drink but it also meant little money. I would wake up in the morning and think about alcohol. It was all encompassing. I would go on to eventually drink six litres of wine every single day. If I didn’t I would get the shakes, I would have headaches and a sore stomach.
I would start drinking at around 10am most days, shut the curtains, and watch TV. I was like a hermit. I didn’t care about myself, and I especially didn’t care what others thought of me. I just didn’t care about anything at all.
My addiction and job loss led me to steal money from a family member. I knew it was wrong, I certainly hadn’t been brought up that way, but the devil was on my shoulder telling me to drink and it was more powerful than my own conscious and my own morals.
I was convicted and part of my sentencing included probation, where it was suggested I visit Nga Kete Matauranga Pounamu, so I self-referred to the Addictions Service. I knew I couldn’t carry on the way I was. I would have either gone to jail because I would have continued stealing, or I would have committed suicide. I was at that point. There was no light at the end of the tunnel. I was ashamed of what I had become.
The councillor at Nga Kete gave me the tools I needed to be able to overcome what I was feeling – feelings of hopelessness, of being a horrible person. She helped me to find myself again and I started slowly decreasing the amount I was drinking. I was also supported by my partner, who stuck with me through it all.
My councillor talked me through building up my armour – my army around me – and to be stronger than the alcohol. I completed some Art Therapy, which I found helpful, and with her support I have managed to rebuild the relationship with my parents.
I wouldn’t be here without my councillor at Nga Kete. It’s as simple as that. She has turned me from being an angry alcoholic to a happier person with purpose and goals.
There are not enough words to thank her for what she has done for me. She has literally saved my life.
I haven’t touched a drop of alcohol in six months. My friends have started to come back, my relationship with my parents is great and my relationship with my partner is growing stronger. I’ve started reading again, which is a huge passion of mine, and I have more time to do the things I love.
I’ve been given this amazing opportunity to start living my life again. There’s so much I want to do, and now I have the opportunity to do it.