LAURA BURKE* ADDICTION, RAPE & ABORTION


"I had an amazing childhood. My parents were good to me. I was able to be a kid. Social media wasn’t around. I had good true friends that I still have. I have always been optimistic and lively. I wanted to be a famous actress! I grew up in Calgary, Alberta and when I was 21 I worked at a bar there and also owned a cleaning company. I met a man named Josh and my life changed suddenly. He was a drug dealer who fell in love with me and worked really hard to make me fall in love with him. And it worked. We started to seek drugs together at night after I was done both jobs and we would be high on cocaine for most of that. I was hanging around people who kept guns under their pillows. And I wasn’t worried. I knew that I would have this great life and although I had moments of fear and sadness and shame. I had a drink and forgot. I was visiting my father and I felt sick. My dad is my best friend and we are twins. Connected spiritually as well as by blood. He held my face as he told me that I was pregnant. Not sick. I scoffed thinking he couldn’t possibly know. We drove to the pharmacy and bought a 3 pack of pregnancy tests. I came home. Took them and all 3 of them were positive. I knew immediately that I would have an abortion. I wasn’t happy about it. I wanted children. Lots of them. But Josh was not the type of guy you wanted to father your children. So I booked an appointment and went a couple weeks later. 4 days before my 22nd Birthday. It was awful.

On my 22nd Birthday. I was brutally raped and beaten up by Josh's best friend. He told me not to tell anyone because he would kill me. I believed him. So I didn’t. There was a rumor that he had Hepatitis C. I went to the clinic to get checked. They told me that it takes 6 months to find out if you actually have it. I freaked out. I’ve always been so fearful of STDs and herpes. And now I had to sit for 6 months and wait. I spiraled. I immediately sold my cleaning company and ran away from Calgary. I had an old friend who lived in Saskatoon with his girlfriend. He told me that I could stay with them. So I did. I left everything behind. Josh was determined to stay together and I told him that if he went through a 28 day stay at rehab facility then I would take him back. He did. And I did. He moved to Saskatchewan and we got an apartment together. My 8 months in Saskatoon were the worst of my life. I drank till I puked often. Josh and I did cocaine constantly. I had an eating disorder because I thought I wasn’t skinny enough. And our relationship was turbulent. He was manipulating and emotionally abusive. I would walk to the liquor store in the morning. And I called it. The wrong side of the morning.

One night. He hit me. Hard. I broke my nose. He knocked me unconscious. I woke laying in his arms. Looking up at him crying and holding a knife to his own throat. Immediately I had to comfort him and talk him down the ledge. That’s when I decided to leave. I drove a uhaul to Chilliwack where I had family. I always wanted to end up in Vancouver and now I was just outside of it. I was still drinking and doing drugs in Chilliwack. Josh got arrested and served 8 months in prison. But we wrote each other. I have over 50 letters from him in prison. Growing smarter and closer to god together. When he got out. We tried to make it work again. But there was too much pain and resentment. We ended it for the final time. And it was ok. We were able to hug and wish each other the best life. That was 8 years ago. I haven’t seen him since. I moved to Vancouver single and got a job as a server. I was done doing coke but my alcohol addiction was running rampant. I would buy the cheapest alcohol I could and get drunk by myself and go to a bar and write. I felt so posh. Then I would spend the entire next day throwing up. I would go to a club alone with $60 and not remember getting home. And I would wake up with a man I didn’t know next to me and a half a cheeseburger on my chest. I would dump the booze down the drain just to buy more. It was Halloween 2012 and I was at work dressed as Marilyn Monroe. I was sloshed. I had drank a micky of vodka before work even started. My boss called me into the office and I got sent home. I headed to the nearest bar. And cried there as I drank.

I woke up at 3am. Sober. And crawled to my window. I looked up at the sky and asked God on my knees to please help me. I didn’t want to do it anymore. I cried and asked for help. In the morning I went to my first AA meeting. I sat there overlooking the city and listened to people. I had hoped to be called. And I was. Very last. I stood up and went to the front and said for the first time “Hi. My name is Laura and I’m an alcoholic.” I asked for help. I told my story and I cried. After the meeting almost everyone surrounded me. Told me to come out for breakfast with them. I did. And I remember leaving the table many times to puke. I spent the next year volunteering at that Alano club. Going to meetings and doing the steps. I have never relapsed. That was 6 years ago.


My life has changed dramatically since then. I managed restaurants for years until I quit to truly pursue my acting career. Now I serve at a high end restaurant and film about 5 indie films a year and perform in 1 or 2 local plays. I am engaged to a man who loves me unconditionally and treats me like gold.

We go to therapy together not to solve problems but to grow emotionally, spiritually and mentally. I am excited to be a mom one day. I attribute my lack of guilt to doing the steps. I was truly able to let everything go after I confessed it to god and cried in shame and smudged my apartment. I always knew I would be ok. But I’m thriving.I hear stories all the time of people’s heart ache and misfortune. Everyone has gone through something. And it breaks my heart when people live in it still. I want to let people know that you can thrive. Not just survive. Life is hard. For everyone. And pushing yourself to become a better person. Or feel better. Or get over your anger and resentment. Will free you. You have everything you need inside of you. Forgive yourself for the wrongs you have done. Forgive others. Allow yourself to dream. Know that you deserve it. And go out and get it. You will have moments of weakness and we all cycle through momentum and laziness. Allow yourself to relax when needed and push yourself out of your comfort zone when you have energy. Use your natural gifts to draw you to your purpose. Visualize your end goal. And believe you can do it. I could have let any number of things drag me down. Forever. Some people never get over their trauma. I honestly forget parts. Because that isn’t me anymore. It just made me stronger. Humans have allowed ourselves to slip into a comfortable boring routine. Break the habit. Excite your mind and create new neural pathways. You are forever a student. And I believe in you. You are a child of god. Religion doesn’t matter. There is an energy in you that you can use to create. Connect to it. And know that you are safe. Much love."

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Farrah Aviva

VIDEOGRAPHY BY: Tyler Dawson

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