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28 June 2021
Missy (above) continues to check in with the START community for support and friendships.
Words Missy Caddell
I grew up in Melbourne as the eldest of five children and moved to the country when I was 15. I lived with my dad and stepmum, as my parents separated when I was six. I didn’t really have a close relationship with my mother growing up.
Mum was only 16 when she had me. Dad was an alcoholic, and some physical and emotional abuse went on within our home. I thought it was normal until later when I realised it wasn’t. I was scared and anxious as a child. I wanted to protect my siblings. I was also sexually abused. It was all so confusing.
Having a broken family impacted me a lot. I felt that nobody loved me. As I got older, relationships with people became very co-dependent.
I did quite well at school and was a good student. I finished Year 12 and worked in childcare. I am a bit of a perfectionist, which I realise now was a coping mechanism for me and my fear of abandonment. By the age of 20, I had a qualification in Early Childhood studies. I wanted to give other kids what I didn’t have growing up.
I had a real ‘love hate’ relationship with Dad and, when his addictions spiralled and he became homeless, I switched off emotion-ally and went downhill. I was 29 at the time. Before that, I would dabble in alcohol and drugs, mostly on weekends. I didn’t realise it, but I was already an addict then.
I denied my addiction at first. I was too proud to say I needed help. I fell pregnant and was sober for a while because of the baby. I couldn’t do it for myself. I had a miscarriage, and then Dad passed away.
I realised that if I didn’t get clean, I would end up like Dad. So, two months later, I went into detox. I learned a lot about myself and let the walls down that I had built around myself.
I was referred to the START* program at Berwick Salvos in October 2019. I instantly felt safe there and a strong sense of commu-nity. I felt connected, and that kept me coming back every day.
I began doing the Bible studies and, once I got into them, I felt an internal shift. I
was more at peace with myself. I still have moments where I don’t feel that, of course, but opening up to God and developing a faith helped me build trust. I didn’t feel alone anymore and, for me personally, that’s what has helped the most.
I have become more reflective, gained more self-awareness and am in touch with my emotions. I want to share that now with other people. As a kid, I minimised my emotions.
START has helped me see my coping mecha-nisms as a child and their impact later in life, and I am grateful for that.
Now I am working in childcare. Today, as I write this, I have taken the day off, and I am here at START. It’s the second anniversary of Dad’s passing, and I am here because it’s my safe place. I am safe here with my community.
I still check in with START via Zoom sometimes, and I come when I can. I know I can come back anytime and have the support I need. I am now expecting a baby girl, and I want to be a present and conscious mum to the best of my ability. I also want to give back. I want to work with people who have gone through situations similar to mine and who have strug-gled with alcohol and other drugs (AOD).
I am not sure if I will go back into childcare or study for qualifications in the AOD field. I have an idea that I want to teach people about being a present and conscious parent – and the impact that can have on their kids. I have to be a parent first, though!
I always held on to hope in those difficult times, always believed that there was some-thing more out there. So, if you’re in a position like I was, don’t give up. Keep going, don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s out there.
For more information on START, go to salvationarmy.org.au/berwick