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