If there’s one thing that everyone has in common, it’s the common ground we all share of having reaching a dark point in our collective lives – a moment in which we’ve seen our own rock bottom.
However, while it can be an easy option to allow yourself be swallowed up by the darkness, it takes true courage and resilience to take a stand and overcome the situation that you’ve found yourself in. The end result is often one of pride and accomplishment, but it’s never an easy journey, and one that is often overlooked by society as a whole.
This is where Support Act’s Tune Ups series comes into play, with its second season launching recently. With seven episodes appearing across as many weeks, the series features the likes of indie-pop icon G Flip, country star Fanny Lumsden; the Teskey Brothers bassist Brendon Love; hip-hop artist Ziggy Ramo; live music veteran Sahara Herald, Tour Director of Frontier Touring; and longtime roadie and CrewCare co-founder Howard “Weird” Freeman.
In the fourth episode of the series, the resilient Barkaa (born Chloe Quayle) talks about how she found herself going from “rock bottom” to heights that she would never before have imagined she could reach.
Check out ‘For My Tittas’ by Barkaa:
“I was homeless, and I’m thinking, ‘I’m so deep into my drug addiction that I can’t even get out,'” Barkaa begins, recalling one of the worst moments of her life.
“At that time in my life, I was just trying to survive, I guess. I still had a horrible ice addiction and alcoholism, and dabbling in other substances as well, just to try and escape, or I guess at that time I was just living to die. I didn’t have the guts to take my own life, so I was kind of just hoping that it would just happen.
“So when I found out I was pregnant with my third child I felt, like I felt guilty because I should’ve been feeling those exciting feelings [because] I’m going to bring a baby home, but I didn’t have a home – I was homeless,” she adds. “Y’know, and I’m thinking, ‘I’m so deep into my drug addiction that I can’t even get out,’ and also having court hanging over my head at the time.
“When I found out that I was pregnant with him, I just stopped reporting. I had it in my head that if I go out, go back on Country or to Wilcannia or back onto Barkindji country that I could give birth to my baby and avoid DOCS. There was a part of me that was just like, ‘I’ve got to face this music. If I don’t face it, it’s just going to be there waiting for me.’ So I just thought, I’ve got to get in here and give him the best chance that he’s got left.”
As Barkaa continues, she notes that her time in jail was difficult for a number of reasons. In addition to having her child while locked up in Silverwater jail, she was also in there with her cousin, who not only recently passed away but also gave her baby son his name. Despite this, Barkaa explains that she found solace in those around her, looking outwards for the necessary support to get through these difficult times.
“My sistergirls were my counsellors, they were my therapists in there and they gave me that support that I needed to carry me through the sentence, and to carry me through carrying [my] baby,” she explains.
“I guess when you’re in addiction, the thing that you want most is just to go back to the old you, or just to feel those old feelings again, and at that point in my recovery it was like, yeah, I’m building myself back and I’m coming back, but there’s also a new person emerging from this, a new woman who is stronger, who is resilient, who doesn’t take crap.”
Despite this dark period of her life, Barkaa notes that she’s come out the other side feeling stronger than ever, and with new perspectives that will aid her in the future.
“Rock bottom teaches you things mountaintops never will, and I thought, I’ve learnt so much from my struggle, so to then grab my struggle and then lift myself up through it and be like, ‘I’m not going to be a statistic any more, I don’t want to be another number in the system,” she explains. “Rehab helped me learn to love myself again, and yeah, it was really good for my growth.”
Moving on from these difficult times, Barkaa explains that she has also managed to adopt new methods into her life that not only allow her to keep a positive outlook, but to also improve her own self-worth.
“You get it from a lot of people that give advice, ‘Look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself that you love yourself,’ and honestly, it works,” she explains. “I get up in the morning when I look most feral, I get in that mirror and say, ‘You’re deadly, you’re lovely. You’re powerful.’
“I think we’ve got to see ourselves and bring ourselves back to who we were when we were young and what we wanted to hear, so sometimes I do talk to my inner child and tell her that she’s worthy and that she’s important, and that she deserves a better life than what she thought she did.”