From about age seven I started experiencing anxiety and depression. I was shy and insecure. It was like I felt I didn’t really belong in the world, and wasn't comfortable in my own skin. And I don’t really know why. I had (and still have) a loving family, home-life and upbringing…
In year eight, I started drinking alcohol and rebelling. I loved alcohol and the feeling it gave me, because it would take all my worries and cares away. Every chance I could, I drank. Then, in year nine, I ended up going away to a private Catholic boarding school in Sydney - which did nothing to curb my rebellious behaviour, and nor did it change my negative attitude towards God!
Throughout those next high school years my drinking got me into all sorts of trouble and I let my family and friends down a lot. It was obvious from very early on that alcohol was a problem for me, and yet, I finished year 12 and went on to University and graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce Degree.
But my drinking became more out of control in those University years and I did things while I was drunk that I would never have done sober.
During my 20’s I worked as an accountant and endured a broken marriage. I had started drinking 2-3 bottles of wine a night and isolated from my family and friends. Quite often I experienced blackouts while drinking where I could not remember what I had said or done. I was so ashamed of what alcohol was doing to my life, but I could not seem to stop. I had a 'mental obsession' for alcohol and had become completely addicted.
I wanted to stop drinking but I couldn't. And I could no longer comprehend living a life with or without alcohol.
When I was 27, I attempted to take my own life, and was admitted to a psychiatric ward and then into what would be the start of seven years of multiple hospital, drug and alcohol rehab admissions.
In these years my alcoholism took me to some dark places.
There were countless times I wanted (and tried) to stop drinking using help through all the resources I could find. I somehow managed to string together a few sober months and met my partner Dan at an anonymous recovery meeting... but as usual - my sobriety was short lived and within three years alcohol and drugs would tear us apart.
The entire time I was working as a professional, renovating a home and keeping up appearances - and to the average outsider I seemed functional. Inside, I was emotionally and spiritually empty - and I'd begun to think it was impossible to ever have freedom from the torment. I knew alcohol was destroying me, but I could not stop.
I felt like I didn’t want to live anymore but I didn’t want to die either. I was trapped and thought there was no way out of my alcoholic world.
Then, in October 2012, my path to freedom began to reveal itself. I remember sitting at a Doctor's surgery one morning, feeling hungover and depressed, and I reached over to pick up an old Women's Weekly magazine which featured a story about a woman whose life completely resembled mine. Like me, she had been a prisoner to alcohol, but she had recovered and was happy! She went on to share that she'd found sobriety through the Salvation Army’s ''Dooralong Transformation Centre’ - and in that instant, I knew I had to get there. I suddenly wanted to find out if there really was a God. I wanted hope.
So, in January 2013 - at the age of 34 - I resigned from my job, packed up my house and life, and admitted myself into their ten-month long term residential program. I ended up staying for fifteen months though - because after graduating, I wanted to give something back.
That programme was the most challenging and transformative thing I ever could have done. The program, staff and support were amazing. For me, working their programme and discovering a Christian faith changed my world.
The miracle of healing in my broken, shattered life began - and continued with a reunion with my partner Dan who also found his way out through his own faith. We are both now long-term clean and sober and happily married.
It’s coming up to eight years since my last drink, and I will happily share with anyone that my personal faith has been - and remains - absolutely fundamental to my recovery. In addition to that I am constantly careful to remain vigilant and never complacent. I never want to forget where I came from and how horrific the mental obsession for alcohol was. When there was no choice left.
I’m so grateful I have a choice today.
I choose life, and I choose sobriety.
** Ally played a huge part in the sobriety story of Sober in the Country Ltd. You can see her feature in our Australian Story episode here.