After entering a Salvation Army support program called ‘First Step’, Ellanor found faith, friendship, fellowship and family reconciliation.
I had my first alcoholic drink at the age of 13, and I became an obsessive binge drinker throughout my teenage years. I was abused as a child and I wanted to forget that dreadful experience. My parents didn’t want to know.
After I left school I worked as a registered nurse. I’d binge-drink at nights and on my days off. After marrying later in life, we had a child. Sadly, he only lived for three hours. I felt the loss very deeply and that’s when my addiction got really serious.
Five years after the loss of our child, my husband died of cancer. The drinking continued, and it got to the point where I didn’t want to be here anymore. I became ever more isolated. The alcohol changed me completely. It changed my personality and I’d get very aggressive.
Then, in 2014, I had an accident. I was inebriated, slipped in the shower and fractured my back. I lay there from the Friday evening until the Monday morning and then spent five days in intensive care, as my organs were starting to fail. I went into nursing home care. After more than a year, I thought, “I’m too young to be in a situation like this”, so I worked very, very hard getting myself physically and mentally fit.
In 2016, I found a unit for rent. However, it is right near a hotel. I have not had a drink since the accident, but even the smell of the alcohol is a trigger for me and tempts me when I get stressed.
Last July, Jenny from the Rockhampton Salvation Army wrote in the local paper about a program she was starting for people and their families affected by addiction. I went for a while, but being more than a bit pig-headed, I thought, “I can do it myself" – but actually, I couldn’t!
It was Jenny’s persistence that got me through. She’d ring up and say, “We miss you in the group!”. I have gained a new strength and I am now not as shy as I used to be. When I first went in, I wouldn’t talk, but now I’m opening up, and in time I would like to be able to help others.
I was estranged from my family for many years because of my alcoholism and mental health issues, but I’m pleased to say with Jenny’s help and the help of the group, I have now reunited with my family. Christmas last year was beautiful. I have also come back to church.
It was going through the 12-step program that brought me to faith in Jesus. Although it took me many months to finally walk into The Salvation Army, I did, and I love it. They have encouraged me to join in with Home League, Bible studies and all the activities. I gave my story twice at the beginning of the Red Shield Appeal and I’ve participated in collecting. I also love cooking for any event at church.
I know I can still be a bit obnoxious at times and I think God has his work cut out with me! But I’m so glad he is a God who does not give up. The old me was isolated and on a path of destruction. I had no value in my life. The new me has a loving God and joy in my heart. I have my close family; my caring church family and I have genuine friends for the first time in my life. I finally have found peace in my heart and I am so blessed.
As told to Naomi Singlehurst
First appeared in Others magazine