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People of Cessnock is a blog by local resident, Rebecca Murray. The project seeks to value the people of her home town by sharing their stories value and raising the profile of people living outside metropolitan areas.



“I’m not scared of dying at all.  I’m a little unsure about beyond that, to be honest with you, but I do believe there’s something.

I believe that everybody has something about them, about their lives, that will last forever.

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My life really reads like a book.

I’ve never seen my father. I suppose you’d call him a drifter; never stayed in one place for too long. He was not really a part of my life.

My step father - he came into my life around six or seven - he did not like me much. I was a thorn in his side. Put it this way, today he’d be doing ten years jail for being cruel. My mother, she used to try and stop him from hitting me; he’d just knock her out of the way. He was always blaming me for things that did not happen. He was always hitting me. Always.

I missed out a lot in those years.

And I used to be involved in car theft and joy riding. I was in Yasmar boys home at Ashfield three or four times. They’d march you around the grounds in the rain and stuff. Basically, you just got a kick up the arse and were sent on your merry way.

In the end I left home at sixteen. I didn’t really have much of a plan … just lots of pot.

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It’s probably the worst tattoo I’ve got but it’s definitely a reminder.

I’m sick of people saying, ‘Marijuana first and then … whatever.’ A lot of people say that. But that is not the case. I can tell you now, marijuana did not put me onto using the needle.

I used to do some stupid things when I was younger. You don’t mean to, but you do.

I think someone gave me a book once. It said, “Heroin: it’s so good, don’t even try it once.” But I did.

I admit, I did like it. I liked it a lot. I liked being heavily stoned. But I didn’t like the scratching. And sometimes I was scratching really bad. With a brush. I was very paranoid too. Extremely paranoid.

I’d see other users out there trying to pick up cracks in the floor. They think it’s fun, but it’s not fun. There’s no happy ending.

I basically got caught up. I got caught up big time and believe me I did not want to. That’s not what I wanted. It turned out wrong. It turned out so wrong.

And it led to crime. I went to prison. I went to every jail in NSW, you know? I did twelve and a half years. Not straight, but over a period.

I would do anything to stop my kids going down the same path that I did. Partying is fun but it has its consequences. Do not go down that road.

Chasing drugs … you’re basically chasing the dragon’s tail.

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The thing I’m proudest of in my life has been getting off drugs… and having a really good relationship with my son and my sister. Definitely. I’m proud of coming out the other end. I’m a totally different person.

I was living in Abermain and I used to get little pamphlets in the mail. And one day I read one and I rang them up to see what they’re all about.

The church I ended up going to… I found it was a bit of a cult. Most of the time I was coming home to the bible to see if they were telling the truth. They used to speak “hallelujah” over and over and over until they’d speak something else. They thought they were speaking in ‘tongues’ but of course you’d speak something else eventually; if you speak the same word over and over you’re going to get confused. And I thought, no, I don’t like this. Not one bit. But it got me thinking more about God. It got my foot in the door, so to speak. It got me going in the right direction.

For the past fifteen years I’ve been attending a different church. The pastors would come and pray for me; I couldn’t get up to them because of my disabilities. It’s helped me a lot.

And I didn’t stop taking drugs right away. I do remember going to church hammered. It was off and on for probably a few more months. But, bottom line there… it made the difference. If I didn’t know God, I’d still be using. I know that.

Back then I was not really me. I was an angry young man. I was really angry at the world. And now I would say I’ve learnt a lot from the anger. I’ve come through pretty well and I feel pretty well lucky. I feel entirely lucky. My life has changed. I can say definitely that my life has changed.

It’s been bad but, in the end, it is good.”