Paul Lit­tle on a “gar­den of poetic de­lights”, David Hill’s WWII yarn for boys, and a for­mer P-ad­dict’s mem­oir.

North & South - - Columns - By paul lit­tle

Ruawai-based Janet Bal­combe has pub­lished a new edi­tion of her mem­oir of sur­viv­ing P ad­dic­tion, Take a Walk On The Wild Side (www.wild­sidepub­lish­ing.com, $29.99).

NORTH & SOUTH: What’s changed since your book first came out in 2014? JANET BAL­COMBE: There’s a new story in chap­ter one – a foun­da­tional be­trayal and bul­ly­ing story. I wasn’t ready to put it in [the orig­i­nal ver­sion] be­cause I didn’t want to make the other par­ties feel bad. I still loved them and for­gave them. The other new con­tent is a photo gallery in the back and some fine-tun­ing and polishing. And also the cover and ti­tle are new. It’s now just called The Wild Side.

N&S: What sort of re­ac­tions have you had to the first edi­tion? JB: Oh, wow. One of my favourite pieces of feed­back is from a reader, Sally S. She’s a mum whose daugh­ter was heav­ily ad­dicted to meth. Sally read the book and made con­tact and said, “Thank you for writ­ing this. It has given me hope to be­lieve my daugh­ter can get through this.” She also said, “Please un­der­stand how far-reach­ing this book is. It’s more than a meth mem­oir; there are themes about toxic re­la­tion­ships, solo par­ent­hood, grief, bul­ly­ing and be­trayal. It all comes down to heart­break and bro­ken­ness. It helps peo­ple to see an­other person’s jour­ney.” N&S: Your faith is very im­por­tant to you. Do you think you can get off drugs with­out re­li­gion? JB: You can, there’s no doubt. I gave up al­co­hol, P and all those other sub­stances I was us­ing, and cig­a­rettes, with­out God. With my own willpower. But willpower can’t get rid of de­mons and can’t heal bro­ken hearts – the dam­age which is the root of all ad­dic­tion. The one thing I couldn’t give up with­out God was my toxic re­la­tion­ship. There are soul ties that keep you bound to­gether. That’s why peo­ple in abu­sive re­la­tion­ships want to leave but ac­tu­ally can’t.

N&S: You’ve mar­ried since you wrote the book? JB: I got mar­ried for the first time two years ago. It was a sur­prise for us both when Ray and I met each other at a book­sell­ers’ con­ven­tion. He saw my book and said to him­self, “I need that book.” He had three kids who were strug­gling. We started com­mu­ni­cat­ing and fell in love over email. Then his step­daugh­ter, who’d been on meth 10 years, read the book and she de­cided to give re­hab one last chance. She went into the Sal­va­tion Army Bridge pro­gramme, made it through and is out the other end and has a to­tally new life.

N&S: Do you cel­e­brate the an­niver­sary of get­ting your life back on track? JB: Yes, it’s July 24, 2001 – the day I went to a prayer meet­ing and said, “God, I need you; I can’t do this by my­self.” That’s the day I was born again and God was able to come in and do what he needed to do to re­store my life.

It took him a long time – and it took me a long time to come back from that far down. There was an ini­tial two years to heal my­self both phys­i­cally and emo­tion­ally so I could step back into life. It was such a mess. There was a list of things he had to sort out for me, like my tax bill. And one by one in those first two years, he sorted all those things out in a mirac­u­lous way.

Janet Bal­combe gave up al­co­hol and meth (pic­tured above), but says a toxic re­la­tion­ship was the hard­est ad­dic­tion to break.

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