A Cat with Nine Lives by Susie Rose

Photo by  Catherine McMahon

As I sit at the beach watching my two little boys play in the sand, the salty air hits my face and a wave of gratitude washes over me. I feel a sense of freedom and peace. Unfortunately, it wasn’t always this way.

9 years ago my life was in ruins. I was stuck. Stuck in a never ending merry go round of drinking. And going to bars. And drinking. And going to different bars. And, you get the picture…

My relationship with alcohol started early as a teenager, just like my peers, the most exciting thing in the world was the quest to obtain alcohol for the weekend, I apparently looked like “the old one” in the group and so accepted the challenge of going to the bottle shop with gusto (and craploads of fear) but mostly excited to be the one to secure and bring back the goods for the tribe! I thoroughly enjoyed drinking on weekends but noticeably liked to party more than most of my mates. I had an internal feeling of incompleteness and what alcohol gave me felt like the magic cure to it all – Confidence, happiness, and fearlessness for the small price of a $4.50 bottle of Passion Pop (or Malibu and pineapple juice if we were really in the money). It felt like a win-win! I’d won the ‘go through life easier’ lottery!!

Alcohol became my Best Mate, my buddy and confidante that was going to be my buffer in life, to assist me with any difficulties and make me the kind of person I wanted to be. I loved every minute of it and continued into my late teens and 20’s as a full time ‘bar goer and party attender’. My Best Mate continued to deliver and serve me well. Until one day it didn’t.. After yet another 4 day drinking session I woke up in hospital. I shook violently and the fear was unbearable. I was sedated by doctors and convinced myself this wouldn’t happen again. Until it did. Within 48 hours of exiting hospital I sat with a drink in my hand not knowing how this happened. I felt like a failure. This continued for a few more years and the merry go round became more and more torturous. My days were spent either drinking or experiencing unbearable hangovers with panic attacks. Hospital admissions became a regular occurrence. How could my best mate betray me like this?! The very thing that was going to save me was destroying me and I had no way to stop this freight train. The only thing more painful than continuing it was to stop it as I didn’t have the life skills or self-esteem to handle life.

I watched my friends go to university, work on careers and other general ‘adulting’ and I envied their ability to conquer life. I felt weak, a bad person and a mistake. I worked in the corporate sector and had my own place. But the ability to maintain these things were shattered every time I entered a bar. I wanted a good life AND alcohol. I didn’t realise I couldn’t have my cake and eat it too. Or wine and drink it too?

2009 was the worst year of my life with countless hospital admissions and the demise of most of the good things in my life.

I wake up, my whole body shakes and I have again been sedated by doctors, tests show my body is close to cardiac arrest. I am 40kg and mentally disoriented. I was strongly advised to attend a detoxification process that would become the most horrendous 7 days. This is the day I give up. Give up the fight to keep my Best Mate in town. So long! And just like that a new journey begins. The best decision I ever made in my life. I am free. the chains are released. Today marks 9 years since that day.

So some good news must have come out of this royal shit storm right? I assure you it has and continues to be a work in progress. Here is what I have learnt since that terrible day which I hope can help you too:

I do not need a substance in my body to change the way I think or feel - I am actually okay just the way I am

My self esteem is not dependent on external sources

I do not need to believe or react to every thought that pops into my head - the mind can be pretty creative at times, let the thoughts come and go, they really dont mean much

I always need to look at my part in my difficulties - do not play the blame game

There is a power in the universe far greater than me which makes anything possible

Healing is always possible in the darkest of moments - be more than my circumstances

Pain can be an amazing opportunity for growth and a push down a new path

When I take care of myself, I am confirming my worth to myself, self care is gold

My past does not determine my present

What other people say, do or think about me means nothing about me - dont take it personally!

I am passionate about providing inspiration and support that I didn’t know existed when I was a twenty something girl lost in the world. The above understanding of why I self medicated the way I did in conjunction with health, exercise, nutrition, writing, meditation, spirituality and guidance by some amazing women in life has been my salvation and I want to share a piece of this with you. After all, I feel very blessed and very much like a cat with nine lives. As they say, try not to take life too serious, none of us make it out alive….

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