I grew up in a small town in New Zealand. I am the youngest of 5 children, we had a Catholic upbringing and attended Catholic schools. I was aware I was different from about age 11 and had crushes on other girls I didn’t fully understand what that meant, but it was always in the background. I started drinking when I was about 16 and I loved the way it made me feel and I was able to escape my feelings of shame that I was different due to my sexuality. I didn’t want to be gay, I wanted to be normal like everyone else and my siblings, by 20 I was going to the local pub several days a week and I felt like I fitted in, in that environment, I had relationships with men and tried to be “normal”.
By this time I was drinking addictively. When I was 24 it was suggested by my family I needed to go to rehab to stop drinking. When I was in rehab my therapist was gay, and I remember being scared that she might uncover my secret that I was gay. I returned to my home town after rehab and looked after my mother who was dying of cancer and it was during those couple of months that I came out, I made an appointment to see my therapist from rehab and told her I about my sexuality, she was extremely supportive and told me it was nothing to feel ashamed about.
“I was plagued by feelings of guilt and shame that I shouldn’t be like this”
I never told my mother before she passed away because I was scared of her reaction due to her strong religious beliefs, but I’m sure now she would have accepted me for who I was. I am incredibly grateful I was sober when my mother passed and she saw me get sober, I was able to be there for her and was present when she passed away. That time was very painful because as I was losing my mother a part of me was coming alive.
Soon after I came out to my family and they were all very supportive, but it took at least 5 years for me to fully accept and embrace my own sexuality. I was plagued by feelings of guilt and shame that I shouldn’t be like this. I went back to rehab a few more times as I had not given enough commitment to my recovery. I’m very proud that next month I will celebrate 6 years of sobriety and wellness.
I am now 48 and well and truly out and proud and I’m more proud of the wonderful journey recovery has given me, it has led me to England to create an amazing life for myself and now to work in a job where I help others achieve recovery. I am truly blessed and I’m quite sure my dear mum will be looking down with pride that her youngest finally got her life together.
-Support Worker at Steps Together
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