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Shortly after her triumph at the Huisgenoot Tempo awards, the (now) queen of our TV screens, Karen Zoid, shared a very touching and personal letter on her Facebook page. Upon publishing the post had an astonishing 6000 shares, 15 000 likes and 2000 comments.

Open letter to someone who needs hope.

Today, the 13th of July, marks my first birthday as a non-smoker. As many of you know I was a drug addict in my teenage years. I lost my mom to cancer when i was 9, and just couldn't cope with the loss of my primary caregiver. None of my friends expected me to see my twenties. I wasn't planning on doing so either. By the time I was 20 I had overdosed four times, and lost too many friends to death by overdose or suicide.

I have been free from drugs for almost 17 years now. It just doesn't even feel like the person I am writing about is actually me anymore. The only time I really remember that I almost lost my life to drugs is when I bump into people from my past. Like I said, most of them aren't around anymore so when I bump into people from my past they are mostly friends and family of friends that passed away back then. Seeing them always gives me a jolt of strong emotions.

Especially Almarie's mom.

Almarie died from "speedballing" after she got out if rehab. She was completely clean and decided to do drugs with friends one last time for old times' sake. This is often the case with drug addicts. People tend to overdose when they are actually "clean". The body has lost its built-up tolerance to the substance of choice and the user accidentally overdoses. She really didn't want to die. She had dealt with her pain. She didn't want to hurt herself or anybody else anymore. It was an accident.

Almarie's mom, Alda also works in the theatre and tv world and one night (2004?) I recognized her as the stage manager on a production that we where both working on. I felt a surge of shame cover my entire body as she walked up to me. She knew who I was. She knew who I really was. I was that rubbish druggie. One of the wrong friends who used to do drugs with her daughter. I played a part in the story that lead to the funeral of her child. She grabbed my arm and shook me.

"Ek is so trots op jou!" - I am so proud of you. Wait! What?

She took my hand in hers and said it again. Her eyes softened and she smiled a smile I had never seen on her face before. And then we hugged, we laughed and we cried in very short intervals over and over for a few hallowed moments. The people around us started staring. But we were clean. Purified by our awkward reflexive hug/laugh/cry ritual.

Since that day back in 2004 a lot has happened and I have since worked with Alda so many times. We always make time to catch up and have a quick chat about what is going on in each other's lives. We don't see each other all the time, but the way she met me that day has always stayed with me all these years.

That is why I think of Almarie tonight and why I want to dedicate my special anniversary to Alda. Where there is love, belief and forgiveness there is hope for more than can be imagined.

Whatever your vice is, whatever your pain is, there is always a way out. Don't give up - ever.

Rus in vrede Al. Dink vanaand aan jou.

Thanks Karen for this brutal honesty. This is an issue that is largely swept under the rug. Why should it be uncool if someone speaks out about making the right choices?

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