It was about this time that Katie met a Kiwi bloke, doing his OE in London, and they moved to New Zealand. Although they had two children, their relationship was flawed and dishonest from the beginning, and Katie found herself lonely and isolated in her new country. It was in New Zealand that she was first introduced to methamphetamine.
Katie maintained a mask as a friendly, happy, outgoing singer and a practising Buddhist. She was even made the leader of her local Buddhist mother’s group in Auckland. ‘They would all come around and chant, but I felt like I couldn’t relate to them and I couldn’t share with them my darkest secret. In the middle of chanting, I would pop to the toilet so I could smoke meth.’
Katie’s mask began to crumble and her relationship disintegrated. ‘Meth took it to a whole new level—I went from being sociable to not at all [sociable]. I would hear screaming in my head when I was coming off meth, and the only way to stop it was to take more.’
That’s when Katie found herself at The Salvation Army’s Bridge Programme in Waitakere. She says she was very cynical about ‘the talk of Jesus and God’. But one day, as she sat crying in the garden, one of the staff asked to pray for her. ‘He laid his hands on me and I felt tingly all over, from my head to my toes. When I opened my eyes it was as if everything had got brighter, and I could hear birds singing and the breeze in the trees. It was very confusing because I didn’t believe in Jesus or God.’
Although Katie stayed sober for five months after leaving the Bridge, she relapsed, and for the first time began using needles.
‘It went so fast and so dark after that,’ she says. ‘I knew I was lost to drugs, so I tried to kill myself.’ But miraculously, she didn’t die. Instead, she realised she needed more help and went into a residential treatment programme called Higher Ground.
‘I still struggled with doing the [Alcoholics Anonymous] 12 steps, because they are all about handing control over to God, but Buddhism is all about controlling yourself, so it just wasn’t fitting anymore.’
When she left the programme Katie held on to her sobriety for three years, but was ruled by anxiety and fear. ‘I just spent most of my days with the curtains closed; I was so afraid of everything. Resentment and regret from my past was eating me up, and I had so much hatred towards men because of the way I’d been treated sexually. I didn’t believe in love, and I thought it was an absolute joke.’
But love was to come to her. She met a man from a Muslim family, and Katie describes their relationship as ‘two people who were both lost, but found each other’. He told her stories from the Bible, and she began to read them for herself. ‘One day I said to him, “You are born alone and you die alone,” and he said, “No, you’re never alone. God is always with you.” ’
Soon after, she was to discover the source of all love. ‘One night I had a dream where a figure came to me. He was a man and had a cloak over his head, and he was white and full of light. He put his hand on me, and my whole body was washed with light and I felt so clean. When I woke up, I felt completely clean and light.
She started opening her curtains, and the anxiety began to lift. She attended church and finally succumbed to what she already knew deep down—that the man who had appeared to her in white was Jesus Christ, and he had washed her clean.
Today, Katie and the man who shared her faith journey are married, and they have a six-month-old daughter. Her older children are also on the journey of faith with her. ‘My kids believe in God now and my daughter is always telling me how much she loves Jesus,’ laughs Katie. ‘My relationship with Jesus is so intimate. I’m not afraid to do anything in my life. He’s given me the courage to do the best I can in my life, in this world and the next.’
When Katie reflects on her journey towards Christ, she recalls a simple text sent to her recently by Tokoroa corps leader Loll Raven, who she first met at the Bridge: ‘Loll texted me and said, “Jesus was relentless in pursuing you.” That made me cry all day, because when I look back it’s true. Jesus was relentless in the way he pursued and found me’