I suffered with addiction for over 20 years, I picked up my first drug at the age of 13 and by the time I was 16 I had found my drug of choice which was heroin. I never set out to become an addict but came from a family in which my mother suffered with manic depression and of course in turn her behaviour and moods would become very erratic and volatile. When my dad left when I was 10 this left me with feelings of loss, unworthiness, I felt unwanted, unloved and I went on to seek anything and everything that could take me out of myself. My education failed miserably, I went through the care system after leaving home at 11 and then I ended up in a relationship with a using addict at 15. By the age of 18 I was a very chaotic addict, full of anger, lies deceit, sadness, sorrow, unmanageability, guilt, shame, fear and in a place of despair but I could not stop. I was forced into sex work at the age of 17 and it then became a choice I made with an addicts insane mind that I could fund my habit selling my body. But what I didn’t realise is that I was not just selling my body but I was selling a part of my soul each time I did this. And chipping away at my self-worth, my self-esteem and slowly but surely losing any empowerment as a woman I had or could have. As well as the trauma I would put myself through and come into contact with over the next 20 years. My life over the next 20 years was far from pretty.
It was lonely, sad, and full of despair and pain. I had lost everything and anyone in my life slowly disappeared. There were many attempts to get clean but I never managed to sustain it, until finally about 3 years ago I was referred onto the SWOP team by my local domestic abuse services. I was in a very volatile and toxic relationship and no matter where I turned I was unable to get help. I had took many attempts on my life, and it was plain to see I needed help.
I was very resistant to help to begin with but what the women’s service gave me was an option of a way out. My worker held out her hand to me and did not give up. It was the first time in a long time this had happened to me and I believe sometimes that’s all it takes, is for one person to hold their hand out, to plant the seed to promote change, I believe this as I was that woman that held onto that hand and asked reluctantly to show me the way out.
When I had no one to turn to my SWOP worker was there, and it’s because she didn’t give up on me and did everything she could to empower me that I’m where I am today. After 2 years of perseverance from her and the SWOP team I finally managed to get into Nelson Trust rehab, where she pushed for specifically so I could go and do a group which no other treatment centre has, called Griffin. It was a group for women who had sex worked and delved into the core of myself and helped me to rebuild myself.
Sex working women are a thing and what I didn’t realise is that I needed to look at this stuff in order to stay clean. The importance of the women’s service and specifically the SWOP team was paramount in my life as I am now 1 year into recovery from all mood altering substances. I have managed to maintain and sustain my recovery in the area in which I used and Nelson Trust still continue to support me. I now facilitate 3 groups a week, 2 of which are for Nelson Trust, specifically a women’s recovery group at the women’s centre and a leavers group at the treatment centre and I have also managed to secure part time paid position in one of Nelson Trust’s recovery cafes.
My life today is full of gratitude and I am now able to see the beauty in life when I wasn’t able to see this before. I now appreciate life’s hurdles and do not treat them as an obstacle but as an opportunity for growth. I am able to stand in my own truth, and feel empowered as I’m doing this.
My self-esteem and self-worth are not on the floor anymore and day by day I continue to build upon these. And I’m constantly working on becoming the best version of myself.
I have my family back in my life and a strong network of women in my life, which is something I never thought would be possible as beforehand I never understood how to be with women and I’m now a firm believer in women empower women as I’m a leading example of what happens when women empower women.
I feel that without services like the women’s centre my recovery wouldn’t of been possible as I had no other safe place to turn to, and now it’s only fair that I give back to other women and hold my hand out and say ‘I know the way out’.
Thank you for your continued support and appreciation of the work we do. Without you, we wouldn’t be able to save lives and turn lives around.
The Trustees and Staff of The Nelson Trust