A Story of Hope
On Sunday 6th March, myself and some other wonderful ladies braved a dip in a freezing cold lake in North Wales. My reason was to raise awareness for the amazing Nacoa.
My name is Julie and I am 45 years old. I grew up in a very happy and loving home with my Mum, Dad and older brother by two years.
Life as I recall was wonderful, we had everything – or so it seemed. At the age of 10, I remember my Mum being drunk one day after school. It was a Monday and she was drinking out of her blue spotty mug, I knew it wasn’t tea or coffee in there. As the months went on so did the drinking. My brother was also now drinking at home. Dad worked away on the sea and I was left to watch over my Mum and brother whilst they carried on with what was now a full blown alcohol addiction.
Home life was no longer a fun place
The years passed by and life got worse, the drink was now in charge. Home life was no longer a fun place to be but a place for me to sleep before I could escape again the day after. I loved school but for all the wrong reasons – I was free from the chaos until at least 3.30pm then I would sit on the school bus home, anxiety building up and wondering what I was going home to. It was very rarely a pleasant surprise but one of disappointment time and time again.
In 2016 my brother died suddenly at the age of 41. It was alcohol that killed him. Two weeks and two day after his death, my Mum also died due to years of alcohol abuse. My heart was broken and half of my family was gone.
I have had to pick myself up and start again
Since those terrible days I have had to pick myself up and start again. I had always been a very shy and nervous person, I’m guessing due to life’s experiences but since 2016 I have been free to be honest about my life. But where did I start though after so many years of hiding things? I heard about Nacoa briefly on the TV in 2017 and instantly looked them up. I got in touch and wow – after 30+ years of feeling so alone I had found a whole group of people who were going through very similar experiences.
Since that day I have learnt to talk and be honest. Honest about how I felt during it all, as my feelings never seemed to matter or even be considered, I don’t recall anybody ever asking me how I was, it was always about the drinker.
Six years have passed now since I lost my Mum and brother, not a day goes by when they are not in my thoughts. I miss them terribly even though most of the time it wasn’t great but I have learnt a whole new way of living. I have a beautiful family of my own, an amazing husband and two beautiful boys. I am honest with the boys about what my life was like growing up, I try to educate them in a way that makes sense to them. I have made a lot of friends as I am not that shy girl anymore. I’m a quiet person and probably always will be but the shy, nervous girl doesn’t belong here anymore.
I love being part of something that truly gets me
I have been volunteering for Nacoa for a few years now, I love being part of something that truly gets me. I have pushed myself out of my comfort zone at times and many an occasion have questioned why I put myself in these situations and the answer is simple – it’s called life. I don’t want to exist anymore, this is my time now and if I can help anyone by sharing a part of my past then it is a story very worthy of being told.
I hope whoever reads this that has found themselves in similar situations, that you read this as a story of hope. It is possible to laugh again after all of the sadness. The road will always be bumpy from time to time but if we are equipped with the right support nothing is impossible.
To read more experiences, find our Support & Advice pages.