Life and soul of the party I was always shy, but I desperately wanted to be the life and soul of the party. After a few drinks on a night out when I was 18, people started laughing at my jokes. This new-found confidence made me feel as outgoing as my sisters had always been, and I loved it. Up until then, I had been the odd one out and I felt like I was not good enough in all ways. My mother was an alcoholic and, when I was about 6 years old, someone that I loved started abusing me. I was afraid and all I wanted was for things to go back to how they had been before. I kept drinking for a variety of reasons and I managed to keep the fallout under control for most of my adult life. In reality things had been gradually going downhill and I ended up being addicted to alcohol. It was while I was on a 7am quest to buy more wine that an off-duty policeman followed me home. He had suspected that I was under the influence when he saw me driving erratically, and I was arrested. This was while everyone else was doing the school run and I was worried that my neighbours would see me in a police car. I eventually went into treatment at STAR in Hastings. I was reluctant to go because I didn’t want anyone to see me there. I had always been ashamed of my addiction. ‘Alcoholic’ is seen as a filthy word, and it seems so much worse when it is directed at a woman. Once I had got my treatment underway, l started going to ESRA to work on my recovery. Being around people who were in the same struggle was life changing and I didn’t have to hide anymore. I joined the creative writing group at ESRA and performed some of my own pieces at the Hastings Fringe in public earlier this year. My sisters were there and they were very proud of me. Soon after that, I confidently performed in public again at a Recovery Celebration event at St Mary in the Castle, also in Hastings. This just shows how far I have come. I have stopped trying to be someone that I am not. I am who I am, and I love who I am.