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.