I came to Bristol 3 years ago from London. I was alone in a city I had never been to and was unbelievably frightened. I had come from a detox centre and had been offered a place in treatment at Walsingham House. I arrived in the same shape as St James Church – tired, sad, in desperate need of lots of TLC and looking for firm foundations.
I had left behind a family no longer able to cope with the fact that I was very likely going to die from my Alcoholism, a flat that had become my isolated prison, chaos and total despair. Years of A & E departments, psychiatric wards and deotx centres.
Walsingham House was full of dramatic ups and downs, the packing of my case to leave happened on more than one occasion but with care and love I was supported through the first stage of recovery. Then I had secondary treatment which is just as difficult. With all this knowledge that I had gained about myself and my addiction I was able to give up my flat. This I had been told over many years had become a fatal place for me but that action was a leap of faith that I’m now so grateful took place.10 months passed and I returned to St James House for my next stage in my recovery. Almost at the same time as I arrived again work started on the restoration of the Priory Church.
I liken my recovery to the restoration of the church. From my arrival at Walsingham House scaffolding was put in place. Ideas and a lot of workmanship had to be obtained and thinking changed where necessary; foundations checked and re-checked. Meetings were held to ensure all knew what the aims were. For every problem a prayer, a meeting and sharing of thoughts and feelings were required to make progress. Things improved gradually on the inside and on the outside slowly at first. The huge problems were resolved or accepted as part of history. A new interior was formed from a whole team of skilled and dedicated people. The exterior remains as it was but with a brighter and much stronger look about it.
In July St James had it’s official reopening mass. I was there to see this. I had watched from the start. How we have both changed.
For me I have my sobriety, a family who are proud of me. I am now asked to babysit grandchildren and assist in their care. I work for a Charity and m a member of this community. I can now with my head held high face my fears and the problems that life hands to me. I am waiting for the next stage of this new life with a healthy amount of fear but also with hope and a good amount of serenity.
I will be forever grateful to those who had faith in my recovery and shored me up with their scaffolding and support. A whole band of those people came under the name of St James Priory. I watched St James church come alive again and I have no doubt that the windows of the church watched me and were delighted that for today another person has been given the knowledge and support to set them free from the hell known as addiction/alcoholism.
I am now off to see my daughter and grandchildren for the next week. Oh happy days!!