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Freedom through forgiveness

31 March 2020

How learning to forgive herself and others in a Salvos' support group gave Gail a fresh perspective on life and relationships.

Gail doesn’t have a drug or alcohol addiction, but she has family members who do. She found a support group for others in similar situations at the Rockhampton Salvos — First Step — and has discovered a supportive and caring community there who help each other face their challenges and grow personally through whatever life brings their way.

Gail shares her story below:

Every church should have a recovery program for people facing difficult situations. Every person has a story, and at these groups there is a lot behind every single story.

When I first saw the ad for First Step and the 12 Steps program it offers, I responded immediately and just connected with Jenny who runs it, and those who attend, right away. For me it’s been about just going along, listening to and learning from people’s journeys and stories. By hearing these struggles and sharing my own, we gain different perspectives and ways of dealing with situations, and it’s a great supportive network.

The group is a safe place to share where you’re at emotionally as well, and to connect with a counsellor if you need to. The sponsors of First Step — those who support some of the group’s participants who are recovering from addiction — are also available if we need someone to talk to. These are great opportunities to download all that is happening in our lives.

I also believe in God and pray, all the time, but it’s good to have a person to talk things through with and know your confidentiality is respected and you are valued. It’s an honour to be a part of the group.

As someone who has family members in addiction, I knew I needed some help to try to assist them get off the drugs and build bridges in those relationships at the same time.

For me this was a personal journey as well as learning to grow in patience, understanding and grace. It was about learning to understand what my loved ones were going through and how to provide the kind of boundaries, firm love and support they needed to get through their tough times. It was about forgiveness, and knowing that without it there is no way forward.

This demanded a lot of self-reflection and learning good strategies to work on my own stuff and how I can improve areas within myself, as well as my relationships with others. Anyone can apply the 12 steps in their lives and it taught me so much.

As well as sharing within the group, First Step also has guest speakers from different places who speak about their own journey with addiction or helping others, and their wisdom and encouragement are beneficial to us all.

When you have people in your life struggling with addiction, it’s really only others who have done the journey themselves who can get a handle on what you’re going through. I am not ashamed of what is happening in my family, but just having understanding people around me to talk through different incidences, deviations and rough times was great.

Now that I have completed the program, I am thinking about doing it again, both to stay connected with the group and to keep on learning. It’s a lifelong journey.

To read more about the First Step recovery program, see story page 7.


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