“I open my eyes and wonder about last night. Did anyone notice anything?

I’m chained by addiction. At first I drank to feel better about the permanent anxiety I suffer from. Beer is the least noticeable and if anyone smells it on me, I tell them I’m drinking an energy drink.

It’s a nightmare.

Every night I beg God for forgiveness and promise that tomorrow will be different.

The craving starts when I wake up in the morning. My body demands it. I need at least three to six beers a day. I ask myself which liquor store I should go to, which one I went to yesterday, and how will I disguise the payment?

Walk in, get the booze, pay, hate the smell, drink it and wait for the effects, which are taking longer and longer to come. I can’t get away from places that make me think of alcohol. The restaurant I go to after a facial. I order rosé – the waiter knows me by now. Four glasses in quick succession while I read or keep myself occupied with my cellphone.

Once I went there with my family. Before we’d even ordered, the waiter had brought the first glass. I pretended as if he’d made a mistake with the order, excused myself to go to the ladies’ room and quietly told him, ‘Not today. That’s just for me time – when I’m alone.’

In my mind’s eye I see myself as a child lying on the ground after a caning from my dad. Three blows – he always practices first. He was a prison guard, that’s how he learned how to punish effectively.

I don’t have a choice. Each time he beats me I fall down writhing. Sometimes I wet myself. It doesn’t matter how hard I grit my teeth, the sound coming out of me sounds like an animal in pain. My body betrays me every time.

My husband and children love me deeply. My husband’s love is unconditional – he deserves so much better. When I look at myself in the mirror I’m disgusted. Later I learned to love myself. I realised that if I struggle, my family struggles too.

It’s getting hard to drink and get rid of the evidence. It takes careful planning. God knows, I hate it. I stick my finger in my throat and throw up in the toilet. I feel miserable after a bottle of wine. It’s as if my body screams at me to, ‘Get rid of it!’ While my body convulses and I vomit so violently that it’s coming through my nose too, it’s as if I’m standing outside my body looking at myself. I hate what I see.

I know hatred. I saw it in my mother’s eyes. I relive how she pinned me to the ground, her breathing shallow and fast, handfuls of my hair in her fists, her pupils small. ‘You think you’re pretty. You’re seducing your dad. I see you as the other woman in my home.’ She throws me out of the house and I move into the garage. She leaves canned food, a spoon and a can opener outside the back door. It’s actually a relief.

I relive my dad getting into my bed . . . The shock of it. His hands on my body haunting me still.

Back in the now I stick my finger in my throat again. Involuntarily a song starts up in my head. ‘It is a good thing to give praise to the Lord . . . it is a good thing . . .’ The irony of the situation doesn’t escape me.

Eventually I go to rehab. I see everything more clearly. My family supports me. I write letters to my parents, and I cry. They’ll never read it – it’s part of my therapy and the letters will be destroyed. Where my tears hit the page, the ink runs.

I get better. I make peace with my family and the Lord. I realise He loves me unconditionally and the concept of forgiveness 70 times 7 a day takes on new meaning.

I make myself look in the mirror and tell myself, ‘You’re precious. You were made in God’s image. Your family loves you, I love myself.’

It takes longer than one would think and sometimes the words get stuck in my throat like sour milk, but I forge ahead. I’ll always be in this circle of addiction. I have to be a teetotaller. My anxiety medication is locked away and my family gives it to me when it’s time to take it.

I went to all the liquor stores and pharmacies in my area and declared, ‘Please don’t sell me booze, I’m an alcoholic. Please don’t sell me pills or cough medicine with codeine – I’m an addict.’

Addiction is a never-ending circle. The urges come and go like waves crashing over me. Every day I have to make a choice. To stay sober.”