“They never told me getting honest with myself in recovery would be this hard.”

A spiritual rock-bottom


I’m feeling full and tired. I’m back at the halfway house. I’ve moved out of my parents’ house for good. I realised John had molested me and my sister from a young age. The complete picture fell into place. It’s sickening. And I’m not sure if I’ve processed it. I was eleven when we moved in with John. After seventeen years of difficulty and pain, I still couldn’t quite pinpoint the exact nature of my distress before now. The realisation has opened a floodgate of pain. I never understood my feelings. He took so much from me. He took away my ability to find good healthy relationships. He took away my outlook on what intimacy is supposed to mean to me. He blurred my boundaries. He manipulated me. He gave me material possessions to get power over me. He has taken my family from me. I couldn’t write in my diary because he would read it. I’m free now. I can make my own choices, live life for myself, heal. Now I’ll take back what he took from me. With love and forgiveness in my heart. I’ll find peace; I’ll find serenity.

From the memoir of Isla Stone, The Art of Determination

At the time I lived with my parents again, I had some safe space to clutch in the early evenings before John came home and I had to walk on eggshells again. One night, I was watching television when he came in. I tried to evade a conversation, in case he wanted to fight. He said he had a date with some woman that evening. He was callous enough not to care about the feelings this might evoke in me. My mother and John had been working together for many years and set up a successful business together. She still ran after his every whim and tried to take care of him. He liked to discuss private things that no child should hear about their parents’ relationship. I did not want to discuss his flights of fancy about going on a date; I felt upset and knew I had to put my boundaries down. I said I felt ill and left the room. While he was in the bath getting ready for his supposed date, he called Lara to have a ‘chat’. I heard my sister’s escalating distress. She shouted at him, and I could hear the enjoyment in his voice as he responded to the drama caused by his provocation.

Lara came to me while he was still dressing up. She exploded with anger and said she had much to deal with and didn’t want to handle this shit as well. The worst part was how she had to look him in the face every day, knowing he had molested her. Those words halted the world, the Universe, the earth, the water, the planet, the air I breathed. That moment unlocked years of abuse I had edged around, tiptoed from, closed my eyes to, and avoided. Memories engulfed me; the truth was a horse that kicked me in the forehead.

My sister spoke on. I gasped for breath. How could she casually mention molestation? Then again, how could I just block it and hide it from my memory? I hid the truth of his behaviour for such a long time. I knew my life would change forever as soon as I acknowledged it; as soon as I put a name to it. John had abused us sexually.

After Lara went to sleep, frantic memories inundated me. A good deal of the pain and agony started to make sense. Neatly hidden pieces of the puzzle suddenly fell into place.

The next day I went to Samantha and I cried; oh, how I cried! A river of seventeen years of distress and anguish. Twenty-eight, actually. Seventeen years of abuse from John, and eleven years of random mistreatment before that. She looked at me knowingly; saying she had wondered when I would acknowledge it. She suspected it. Frida and my counsellor too. Lara (who is my sister, for God’s sake!) knew. All of them were privy to this essential information, but me. Somehow, I missed that very important memo; now I know I was just not ready to acknowledge it. They never told me getting honest with myself in recovery would be this hard.

It was a troublesome situation. John payed for my studies. I had given up my job at their company. I had no money. My car and my clothes were my only available possessions. John bought them for me. Most of my furniture was in a storage facility my mother payed for. I wasn’t independent; I wasn’t paying my way and I was controlled by my stepfather. I was exactly where he wanted me.

The thing about the beginning of this journey is that I had developed or rediscovered some values. I knew I had to look after myself and my own well-being. I was coming to understand this concept slowly. I had never done this before. Leaving home again was one of the first steps I took to solidify the value I see in myself.

Samantha let me sleep at the halfway house that night. We arranged that I would stay there for a while until things had settled down. It helped me immensely. A star in my dreary darkness. The following day I went back home with Barbara to collect my clothes. I hoped beyond hope that John would not be there, but he was. I packed only what I needed and left, giving him a tense kiss on the cheek, saying I would visit the halfway house for a while. I did not return until a year later.

Former Addict Recounts Journey to Find Strength, Spirituality and Self-Love in New Memoir

Author Isla Stone shares her spiritual awakening and rehabilitation story in her debut memoir, “The Art of Determination,”
Isla Stone discloses personal, profound journal entries that chronicle her experiences with rehabilitation, empowerment and remarkable spiritual growth. Stone was sexually assaulted by a family member and endured abuse from her stepfather, which created a shaken and battered tone for her life. Trying to escape her internal demons, Stone turned to drugs and alcohol to numb her pain, which also led to toxic relationships with various men, who also struggled with addictions.
Seeking treatment for addiction in a rehabilitation centre marked the beginning of a huge shift in Stone’s life. She began to focus on meditation and other healthier means to allow her to relinquish her fears and find self-acceptance, alignment and connection to a Higher Power.

Isla Stone is a Reiki master and currently runs her own energy healing practice. After her mother committed suicide, she sought closure and saw a medium. This medium inspired her to become a Reiki healer and now she enjoys working with clients to help them find their spiritual healing.
To find out more about Stone and her book, visit her website: www.islastone.co.za.

“The Art of Determination”

By Isla Stone

ISBN: 978-1-9822-4483-5 (softcover); 978-1-9822-4484-2 (e-book)

Available at the Balboa Press Online Bookstore, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

To find out more about Stone and her book, visit her website: www.islastone.co.za.