This guest post comes from Katrina Tanirau, a journalist living in Matamata. She reached out to me via Facebook offering to write something for the site and I said ‘go for it’! Little did I know she would deliver a piece as powerful and stirring as this one is.
Katrina: Thinking back on it now, I should have known that alcohol had taken over my life when I picked up a cash job cleaning toilets so I had money to buy booze.
I can’t recall having any profound moments while scrubbing shit off those bowls, but I do remember thinking: “Fucken hell you’ve got a degree, have just resigned from a high profile job and here you are cleaning fucking toilets!”
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to come across as some snobby, career driven woman who looks down on people who have to do what they do to put food on the table. But to paint a clearer a picture, at that point I’d just resigned from a job that I loved and had worked hard to make my mark in.
So it came as no surprise, when less than a week later my relationship with alcohol came to a grinding halt.
It was September 15, 2014 – a Monday. My day of drinking had started before lunch time and somehow towards the end of it I ended up at a mate’s place absolutely shitfaced. I decided to pick a fight with my son and when that turned nasty I hit the road, thinking it would be a good idea to walk nearly 10kms home.
Wandering aimlessly in the deep darkness of the night with no cigarette lighter or cell phone, I veered off the road and ended up on a dairy farm. What happened next will remain indented in my memory forever. I tripped over an electric fence, into a gorse bush and felt my shoes filling up with slimy, wet stuff.
I was head deep in shit. I’d fallen into an effluent pond.
How I managed to pull myself out of that pond, I don’t know – that bit remains unclear. But what I do know, without sounding too freaky, is that Divine Intervention came into play for me that night.
Somehow my sense of direction returned, somehow I found my way off that farm and back onto the road and somehow I was able to run 10kms home, all the while covered from head to toe in shit.
When I got home, sitting on the shower floor battered and cut from those gorse bushes, it still was everyone else’s fault but mine. I got changed, jammed as much stuff into my car as I could, got in and drove off. The next morning I woke up on the side of the road, in the middle of nowhere, tangled amongst my stuff, with the car’s engine still running.
When I returned to my house, my son and daughter were sitting at the table. The looks on their faces said it all. “You’re fucking up me and my sister’s lives,” were the words that came out of my son’s mouth. Like a million knives being stabbed through my heart, those words hit me like a good right hook to the face.
I couldn’t deal with the disappointment I saw glaring at me through the eyes of my kids, so I went to the one person who had always been there to pick me up when I fell – my mum. Sitting on the couch at my brother and sister-in-law’s house with my mum it finally clicked that my life was a bloody mess.
“Do you think rehab might be a good idea?”
“Fucking rehab, oh my God, shit really is bad.”
And it was bad. There I was in my track pants and hoodie – I was unemployed, overweight, too embarrassed to return to my own house, broke and covered in deep cuts from falling into gorse bushes. It was then that I had the lightbulb moment, I was an alcoholic.
It makes me feel physically sick to think of the danger I put myself in, that I compromised my integrity and most of all that I let my husband, my kids and those I love down.
I never wanted to accept, let alone admit I had a problem with alcohol. To me, the problem was I loved it too much. But like the vast majority of toxic relationships, the love was very one-sided. Like a lover who sucks every piece of your integrity and your self esteem, every inch of my being was devoted to booze.
I’ve always thought of myself as a strong person, I’m blessed and proud to come from two lines of extremely strong women. So when I was faced with my addiction to alcohol it shattered me, because I never thought that I would let something rule my life the way alcohol did.
I always thought that drinking gave me my edge, the confidence I needed to talk to people, do my job, be a better wife and mother. That couldn’t be more further from the truth.
I could drink for days, sometimes consuming more alcohol than an average person has in a month. It was this deluded perception of being a “fucking legend” that fuelled my desire to be the one that could drink anyone who was game enough under the table.
That day – Tuesday September 16, 2014 – was when I realised that I’d run out of chances. If I had any chance of saving my relationships with the people I held most dear, but most of all saving myself, I had to stop drinking alcohol.
Anyone who knows me will tell you that I don’t do things by halves. I’m an “all or nothing” kind of person. So when I made the decision to stop drinking, it had to be for good.
Every time I drive past that road where I nearly drowned myself in a pond of shit, it’s more of a metaphor for me nearly drowning myself with booze. I can feel myself cringing, my body tenses up and it’s enough for me to know that I will never do that to myself and my family again.
To anyone who is reading this, this probably seems like an extreme case. But if I can say anything to you it would be this: If I can say goodbye to alcohol forever, you can too.
Today I celebrate two years of sobriety and as I write this – with tears streaming down my face – I’m overwhelmed by an immense sense of pride.
Proud that I had the courage and support to leave that messed up woman behind, proud of the mother, wife, daughter, sister, niece, cousin, aunt and friend I’ve become, and proud to say I kicked alcohol out of my life forever.
beautiful you took your life back
Congrats on your 2 yr soberversary snd thank you so much for sharing your story Katrina. You rock!
Kia ora everyone.
I’ve wanted to reply to comments on this post since I saw them rolling in on Sunday, but I just couldn’t find the words.
I’m overwhelmed, blown away, humbled and feel absolutely blessed to have been given the opportunity to share my story with my sober brothers and sisters here in our Living Sober community.
When thinking about how I wanted to celebrate my two year soberversary I wanted to do something different. A mate of mine suggested that I contact Mrs D and see if I would be able to do a guest post and I guess the rest is history.
This has been such a huge healing process for me. I was concerned that bits of my story might be too raw and “out the gate”, but I couldn’t tell it any other way – honesty is and always has been my best policy.
It still saddens me to think that I was once that lost and messed up woman and that I put myself and my family through all that shit.
But I’m neither embarrassed or ashamed of my journey because it’s molded me into the person I am today.
To those still struggling on the daily with this demon, let me tell you that you don’t have to fall into a pond of shit like I did.
Always hold on to faith that you will make it through and you will kick this crap out of your life forever.
The power is yours, take it back!
To quote Bob Marley: “You never know how strong you are, until being strong is your only choice”.
Nga mihi nui ki a koutou katoa 🙂
I know your post was a long time ago, but I know you, I lived until recently, in Matamata and our daughters went to school together. I just wanted to let you know that your post here is stuck in my head, and my motivation to go sober. I am still early days and unsure if I need to just quit drinking entirely, or practice harm prevention, and moderation. Either way having seen you, not knowing you were going through this, as most people wouldn’t know of me, gives me a reason, and a very relatable story to build from. Thanks Katrina.
Wow! Your comment has blown me away – proves the point that there are so many of us out there silently struggling through this journey of sobriety and recovery.
Just know whoever you are, I’m here for you if you ever need me. On September 16 this year I celebrated five years sober and while it’s been one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life with times where I’ve wondered if I was going crazy – it’s all been worth every revelation, every tear of sadness for what could have been and every triumph. Alcohol ain’t part of my future. My email address is Katrina@offtherecord.co.nz please just reach out. Ngaa manaakitanga ?
Katrina…cannot add much to the comments already made, but Mrs. D is right, very powerful and stirring! I have been at a sad spot concerning my children and my drinking for some time….my CHILDREN who I would die for and to know we out them through such hell. Just goes to show you the insidious, altering nature of alcohol addiction. Thank you for your honesty and bravery.
Thank you xx
So when you read our stories you can tell that you’re not alone . We’ve all had some kind of wake up call . It’s bloody brave facing up to your self isn’t it . I’m 2 years sober too and even now I shudder when I recall some of my darkest times with booze . Thanks for sharing your story . sober living is awesome 🙂
Thankyou Katrina for sharing your story. I know its not easy remembering and telling our humiliating and painful stories of our alcohol histories. Its wonderful that you are now sober and able to have the life you want and deserve. xx
Thank you so much for your story Katrina. It gives us hope that we can all eventually see the light. Congratulations on 2 years and having your life back 🙂
It never ceases to amaze me what lows alcohol takes us too. To the point of unnatural human behaviour.
But you have risen above all that, so glad for you and all the people that love you. Well done xo
Thanks for sharing.Some of us here can tell stories as bad with regards to the shit pond.But the look on your kids faces fills me with fear of ever drinking again.Mine were young when I quit two years ago.My shame is kept from them but it’s still there inside me and your words are a reminder where I would be if I ever thought I could drink again.Thank you.
Congratulations on two years sober Katrina 🙂 thank you for sharing your story with us. Your strong female ancestors will be proud of you.
Oh Katrina. Your story really reasonates with me and I can totally feel the shame you went through looking into the kids eyes. I too have been there recently. I will read your blog over and over again to remind me how bad it can get. Thankyou so much.x
Thanks for sharing your story of landing in deep shit. Sounds very similar to the places alcohol took me. I remember one night, I had my keys taken off me by the cops at a pub, then gave them the slip – and was trying to get home. At one point I headed off in the direction of a horse paddock – that’s how I would get home! As it was, I hitchhiked and got a ride home from a lovely lady….
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I feel like I’ve just read my own story. I’m back on the wagon … after thinking moderation was the key. No more do I want to have that sinking pit of a feeling in my stomach. Thank you for being so brave, articulate and strong enough to share your story.
Congratulations on 2 years alcohol-free Katrina. Telling your story seems like a great way to celebrate – thank you so much for sharing it with us.
Thank you for sharing your story, it was hilarious, yet at the same time raw, honest and confronting. Good on on you for getting through tha last 2 years AF..
Katrina you are a Legend, just a way better sort of legend now. Love your story, love the rawness, you told it like it is/was. OMG I can almost see you sitting on the shower floor after the shitpond ordeal, and I can almost feel the righteous stubbornness as you stuff your gear into your car. I’m glad you had a good car, an old heap could have caused the fumes to kill you. Divine Intervention gave you one hell of a wake up call. But it is YOU who “womaned up” and took your power back. Hero. Legend. xoxo
Thank you so much for the post. Something I needed to read.
Thank you for sharing. That story is a bit funny, a lot scary, and a pretty decent metaphor for the shit alcohol puts us through.
Congratulations on two years of sober living.
Great post love it. Will be saving this.
Wow, what a strong lady you are to have put this all behind you and to be 2 years sober. An inspiration to us all.