I’m a trained chef, so where there’s food, you’ll find me. My addiction is alcohol, and drinking is really prevalent in that work environment. So, drinking after shifts and having that ‘party lifestyle’ was just the way it was. But I didn’t really use alcohol as a coping mechanism.

I struggled a little bit with alcohol, but not to the extent that it was about to get in 2011. I lost both of my grandparents, and that hit me hard, because I worshipped my grandparents. That’s when I started using alcohol as a coping mechanism, but my mum was there. So what my mum would do was clean me up, dust me down, do what mums do, and fix me – and then we’d just go through the same loop again.

In 2016, my mum got diagnosed with cancer, and she lived for four months with it. She died the most horrific death. Then that was me gone. I hit rock bottom, and things started to slowly disappear from my life. I’d lose partners, I lost my cat, I lost my driving licence and then eventually my home. Eventually, I drank myself to the streets. I’d gone from having a house with a jacuzzi and a steam room in my bedroom, I had big cars, I earned really good money – I had everything, but then it was gone. It took me about six months to do it from start to finish.

Putting the Emma in Emmaus

I spent two years at another community and when I left I had two choices. I could either go back into the normal world, which I wasn’t ready for, or my other option was to pray on it, so I did. So, I did this little prayer, as mad as a box of frogs as I am, I went online and searched for another residential community and the results said to me; ‘Emma Us’ – so I chose it.

My favourite part about Emmaus is, because of the past that I’ve had and the experiences I’ve had, both good and bad, I can mentor, in some way, the other companions. The girls, especially, and some of the guys, will come to me with their problems, whether it’s addiction or anything else, because I’ve been through a lot.

My job role, and my previous employment, means I’m able to teach the other companions little tricks and get them involved. It’s really nice to see the newer companions coming on leaps and bounds within themselves.

Finding a foundation

There are some fantastic opportunities at Emmaus and you can just have a breather from life, from all that chaos and confusion. Trying to rebuild and remodel yourself is a difficult enough thing. If you’re trying to manage normal life on a normal schedule, it’s virtually impossible and sometimes downright overwhelming.

At this moment in time, this is probably the healthiest that I’ve ever been, including before the addiction. I’m a lot more balanced than I was. I’m now starting to think about my future and I’m starting to want again. Whereas in the past, there was no life in me, you know. I didn’t want anything, I just wanted the next fix, the next drink. I don’t really think about that anymore.

So for me, Emmaus Mossley was that initial foundation. The fact that I can do what I want to do. I’ve got hope that I can do anything, I can be anything.

What the future holds

My long-term goals are that I definitely want to work in drug and alcohol support. It’s something that I’m exceptionally passionate about. I believe in sobriety. I believe it for the majority of people, whether you are addicted or not, I just think it’s such a better way of life.

I would like to be able to speak truth and hope into people. No matter what I have to do to eventually get there. I’m aware that there’s practicalities. I’m going to have to pay bills, and I’m going to have to get experience.

It would be brilliant to one day have it as full-time paid job as a support worker, but if not, I’ll certainly be volunteering and using my past, because it’s a gift. Not everyone goes through what I’ve been through, survives it, and are still standing to tell the story. Some people see it as something to be ashamed of, but I certainly don’t. It’s part of my toolbox now. It’s very cliche, but if I can help just one person, it was all worth it.