ALLY Wardle was on the brink of utter self-destruction.
Pretty, smart and personable, Ms Wardle appeared on the outside to have the perfect life.
But there was a secret war of wills raging in her mind that threatened to end it all.
Years of alcoholism had left her emotionally empty and spiritually bereft.
In just her early 30s, she had already endured a broken marriage, five suicide attempts and a voracious addiction.
That addiction formed early, when Ms Wardle was in Year 8.
“I recall feelings of not belonging in the world, and never being comfortable in my own skin,” she said. “I loved alcohol and the feeling it gave me; it seemed to take all my worries away. Every chance I could, I drank.”
By 27, Ms Wardle had attempted to take her own life and landed in her first of three psychiatric wards.
She drove drunk regularly, was admitted to hospital on numerous occasions and did things under the influence she would never do sober.
But in 2012, her path to salvation slowly began to reveal itself via two very different books – the Bible and the October 2012 edition of Women’s Weekly.
Sitting in a doctor’s surgery feeling hungover and depressed, Ms Wardle noticed an article in the Women’s Weekly about an alcoholic who found sobriety at The Salvation Army’s Dooralong Transformation Centre on the Central Coast.
“I remember thinking that’s where I needed to go,” she said. “A feeling of hope came over me – it was time to find out if there really is a God out there.”
In January last year Ms Wardle attended the clinic and stayed there for nearly a year, eventually becoming a mentor for others battling addictions.
Her transformation was complete.
“I saw a peace and joy in the management and staff within the Salvation Army; they all had something that I didn’t have but longed for,” she said.
“I was a prisoner to alcoholism for 20 years, but I made a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God and my whole outlook and attitude towards life has changed completely.
“There is no way I could have done it alone or any other way. I needed the love and support of an army – The Salvation Army.”
Ms Wardle is now hoping to become a Salvation Army drug and alcohol worker at the Tamworth Hope Centre.
She recounted her story at the Tamworth Business Chamber’s monthly breakfast on Monday, which doubled as the launch of the 2014 Red Shield Appeal.