A story by an AA member

A Good Seed

It’s a Monday morning of a fresh new week and a brand new day and in my back pocket I can feel my 24-hour coin I was gifted through AA on it the inscription reads: “One day at a time”.
That really works for me and echoes the wisdom of some favourite words of mine by Ernest Hemingway…

Gillian’s Story

How I became a member of Alcoholics Anonymous

Almost 6 years ago I went to my first AA meeting. I was depressed, hopeless tired and full of despair.

What happened prior to that?

I will start about 4 years before I went to my first meeting. This is a small part of my story. I had been in a steady relationship for 10 years. I was a heavy drinker and had a lot of fun times drinking and hangovers. Sometimes the thought would cross my mind if I were an alcoholic? My quick answer was no I am not, I have a job, a relationship, I don’t drink in the morning and not a daily drinker.

My relationship ended very suddenly I was alone and confronted with finding my own space/apartment to live. During this time there was a shift in my drinking I started to depend on drinking alcohol for comfort more and more. I did not pay much attention to this because I just thought I was a phase in my life and if things were ok again this would end.

As I understand today in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 33 “to be gravely affected, one does not necessarily have to drink a long time nor take the quantities some of us have. This is particularly true of women. Potential female alcoholics often turn into the real thing and are gone beyond recall in a few years.”

I kept my daily drinking secretive. Almost every day I would solemnly promise myself that I would not drink that day. Before I knew it after work or later in the evening I would start having a drink just to relax or ease off the hangover a bit. And after that I would have a lot more. In the morning I would have a ritual taking a few aspirin or paracetamol before I would have to get up so I would be able to go to my work and be physically present.

I was also hiking in the weekends – a lot training for my epic walk to Santiago de Compostella. In the weekends I would hike 20km or more. The previous evening I would drink heavily, sometimes go to a bar and come home late. At times I would have blackout moments not knowing how I managed to find my way home, then get up early and walk. One day when I was hiking I crashed. I had a physical breakdown due to my drinking and knew I could not go on like this any longer. This was the first time I started to admit that I had a problem with drinking. I went to my GP and received help from a psychologist. It was recommended to not drink for a period of 6 months that would help the craving. During that period of time I would have regular consults with psych.

After a period of time I felt better and continued as suggested not having any booze in the house and I would not drink alone; only when I was with friends. This went well for some time but gradually it changed. If I could binge on drinking I would do so. Again, I when to my GP. This time it was recommended to do a lifestyle training. I went for a hiking holiday with a friend and had made the decision to not drink during the 3 weeks that seemed easier to me. On our holiday a situation came up that lead me to have a drink. I just thought it was ok that it was a good idea and it would only be a drink at dinner. I had not had any booze for 2 weeks so I thought and believed it would be ok. Before I knew it I ended up on the beach drinking two bottles of wine with a guy whom I thought I was madly in love with and having a terrible fight with my best friend. Back home this led to some more drinking. It was not on a daily basis but I would binge. I asked my GP for help again. He prescribed Refusal for a period of 6 months and another lifestyle training. I tried after this for a longer period of time to keep my drinking controlled – drinking only in the weekends and only 2 to 4 glasses. Physically I was doing Ok because of the smaller amount of alcohol but I started to feel very depressed. I was scared and tired that if something happed I would not be able to keep up the controlled drinking. I felt desperate and a horrible feeling crept up on me that something is wrong with me and I don’t know what to do. I called a friend about not knowing what to do and because it felt so bad. Little did I know that she was in the AA program for some time. She phoned me back a few days later and shared with me her story. It was amazing to listen to somebody who could really identify with the problem and mentioned that there was a solution. Before I knew it I when to my first AA meeting. I felt very scared. I thought they would send me away because I did not drink that heavily. I was confused. I thought I did not belong in the group. I was not like the others. I am different. Something happened during the meeting. Even though other peoples’ stories were different to mine, there was still something I could identify with. I felt relieved, hopeful and confused. I had a feeling that I belonged, that this is where I am meant to be. Ever since that day I have been sober; my life and attitudes have changed dramatically. Every day I learn more about my alcoholism. I work with a sponsor who guides me through the path of recovery and today I am able to sponsor others and guide them like I am guided on their road of recovery.

Risking it All

Hello – my name is Martin and I am an alcoholic. I come from a fairly large family of six kids. Our home life was not what I would call normal. Dad was an addict alcoholic and my mom was controlling, over responsible and somewhat a religious fanatic. I discovered alcohol and drugs at the age of twelve; around the time of my parents divorced. Alcohol and drugs fixed me, made me feel like what I thought everyone else felt, confident sure and happy. It also became a connection with my dad, I took care of him and he became my drinking and using buddy. He initiated me into a life of crime; taught me how to avoid responsibilities and lead the double life of an alcoholic. I kept taking bigger risks in my life either while intoxicated or to get drunk. I hoped I could just somehow get it together, manage my life but it never happened. I tried to stop drinking and using when I was sixteen; things got very bad with me and my dad but even after getting away from him I couldn’t stop. I thought there was no way I could live without drinking. I though joining the Navy, getting married and getting the right job would make my life better but as usual I kept drinking and using. I loved the affect of alcohol but it was always a roll of the dice what would happen when I started drinking. Sometimes I would make it home, sometimes I would end up in jail, sometimes I would drink and drive with my four year old son in the car. The end finally came when I found myself at work; hung over to the point of still being drunk, working on an airplane and realizing I could be responsible for causing someone to crash their airplane, I could have killed my four year old son driving drunk, I could have ended up in prison because of drugs and alcohol. When I realized all of these things, I was completely gripped by terror and anxiety, seeing that I was out of control and unable to stop. Looking back now I know that day at work was the most important day of my life. I finally gave up and sincerely and honestly asked for help. I was willing to do whatever it took. That day I left work before anyone could see me. On my way home I prayed, because I knew there was nothing I could do. I didn’t know what to do but I did know I could not fix my life; I could not stop drinking on my own. When I got home I called my boss and told him honestly about my drinking and that I had to stop working on aircraft and get some help before someone gets hurt. He helped me get in touch with a treatment facility where I dried out for the last time. In treatment I struggling with the decision to enter long term treatment and leaving my son for up to 18 months. I shocked when asked to leave the short term detox program and to wait for an open bed in the long term program. I was two weeks sober, no job, no money and no idea what I was going to do but I still wanted to stay sober more than anything. Before I left detox my councilor told me to find A.A. and go to a meeting every day which I did as soon as I got home. Every day, I called the treatment facility to see if a bed opened up and spoke to my counselor and every day she said, “still no bed”, then she asked if I went to a meeting. I went to an A.A. meeting every day, got a sponsor and started reading the A.A. book. This was my only focus each day, go to a meeting, call about an open bed in treatment and call my sponsor. To my amazement I went thirty days doing this and stayed sober. When my counselor at the treatment center asked how many day I had sober, I told her 45; then she said why don’t you just keep doing what you’re doing and forget about treatment. So I have, for 26 years, not a meeting every day now, but at least a few a week. When I first started in A.A. they said to take it one day at a time because staying clean and sober for just one day is all we can do, yesterday is gone and tomorrow is not here yet. I also did what my sponsor suggested and we worked the steps. I learned about the disease of alcoholism and the solution to all my problems, dependence and reliance on a power greater than myself. My life is better than anything I could have imagined when I first came to A.A. I married an amazing sober women, raised my son, finished college and most days I fear nothing or no one. I live and work in The Netherlands and am more comfortably then I could have imagined. All these things I owe to A.A. But most of all it’s the inner peace and connection I have with myself and my higher power that keeps me sober and sustains me one day at a time.