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.