Sarah's Story - Fighting Addiction - Part 1
"Just over two years ago I was moving rapidly down a path of self-destruction and almost certain death" ... Sarah Page bravely tells how she overcame her alcohol addiction... Sarah works for Ipswich based charity, Talitha Koum where she now helps other women
Just over two years ago I was moving rapidly down a path of self-destruction and almost certain death
This is my journey...
I was brought up in a home that was full of love and laughter; a farmer's daughter, the oldest of three girls. I had a wonderfully happy, secure childhood, and there was nothing I liked more than being at home with my parents and sisters.
Some of my fondest childhood memories are of picnics in the harvest field, hoping that Daddy would have time to jump off the combine harvester, long enough to ruffle my hair, grab a quick cuppa from the flask, one of Mummy's delicious egg sandwiches and a piece of malt loaf.
Music played a big part in the home too, all of us being encouraged to learn to play the piano. Many a happy hour was spent playing duets - and singing together. Special days with special memories.
As a family we attended the village church of St. Mary's at Offton. I was christened in the Church of England when I was a baby and through my early years learned of the teachings in the Bible and what Jesus had done for us. My faith was so strong as a young girl that I persuaded my parents and the clergy to allow my Confirmation at the age of 10.
I loved the sense of 'belonging' that I experienced growing up in a small, relatively tight knit community - where village life was centred round the church calendar: from Harvest Festival, Carols by Candlelight and Easter Sunday celebrations - to Village Fêtes, Gardens Open and Barn Dances – the latter in aid of church funds – usually to repair the crumbling church tower!
I went to a small private school when aged four but at seven I moved to the tiny church school at Creeting St Mary. My school days weren't particularly happy ones for me apart from those few years at primary school, when 7 of us crammed into a land-rover and set off for the day together.
I felt relatively safe with the security of my four cousins and two sisters around me. Although I was the oldest, I had very little confidence and would hide behind my more extrovert sisters and cousins. I was painfully shy, desperate for people to like me and as a result was always over eager to please and nearly always did exactly as I was told.
My school days were fairly unremarkable academically, and despite passing my 11+ and gaining a place at Ipswich High School, my achievements were not particularly significant. My favourite subjects were Music and Religious Education, as it was then called.
I felt very isolated at high school, never quite fitting in. I always seemed to be on the periphery looking in at groups of girls who seemed to 'click' with each other. I wasn't an academic, wasn't sporty and certainly wasn't good at languages! I didn't have any stimulating conversation and didn't think that anything I might have to say would be important.
I was teased and bullied and couldn't wait for the bell to ring at five to four so I could rush down to the Cattle Market to get the bus home. Invariably I would find my school-hat had been jumped on in the cloakroom, or my bag had been hidden – by those who knew that if I missed my bus home I would have to wait two hours for the next one.
Daily subtle bulling – which made my school days miserable. I had very little self-confidence despite very loving and supportive parents and I couldn't wait to leave school – and at the end of lower sixth I made my escape – at just 17, and went to college to study to be a medical secretary.
Within 6 weeks of starting college I met the man I was to marry. I wanted so desperately to fit in at college – I felt totally out of my depth. I can remember changing the way I spoke, my hairstyle, my way of dressing and my mannerisms, even pretending to like progressive rock music in my attempts to fit in.
I drank vodka and lime to be like everyone else – and can remember the alcohol giving me a warm glow, but I could take it or leave it then. All I wanted was to be accepted and liked. Interestingly, quite recently someone said to me 'We're not all pack animals'.
Brian completed his business studies course and left college to work in banking – while I became an orthopaedic secretary at the Anglesea Road Wing of the Ipswich Hospital. We were married when I was 19 and Brian was just 21 - and I moved from the tiny village of Offton into town.
What a culture shock that was to be!
...To be continued next week
Sarah Page works for Ipswich based charity, Talitha Koum (TK) working with others to help women caught in addiction
Sarah's Story is being serialed and reprinted by kind permission every Monday in as her personal blog
If you want to talk to someone about this article or the issues it raises please contact Talitha Koum (details below).
If you need more information on the charity, giving or the Women Together program please do contact the TK office:.email email@example.com or telephone 01473 857432 or visit their website at www.talithakoum.org.uk