Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to be like, what
happened, and what we are like now.
Reprinted from (Alcoholics Anonymous Pg. 58) with permission of AA World Services Inc. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever
reminding us to place principles before personalities.
Reprinted from (Alcoholics Anonymous Pg. 564) with permission of AA World Services Inc.
Acceptance was my Answer
My name is G and I am an alcoholic
I picked up my first drink when I was fourteen and I drank until I passed out. By fifteen I was drinking and passing out every weekend. I never drank because I liked the taste, I hated it, I never drank to be sociable and from the very beginning I only drank for oblivion.
I believe I was an alcoholic long before I picked up a drink, I hated myself, I felt like I didn’t fit in anywhere. I just felt like a total misfit and for as long as I can remember I wanted to die, but I was afraid of dying, so, for me oblivion was the closest I could get to death. It meant I didn’t have to deal with me.
Within the next two years I progressed to drinking through the week as well, I wasn’t getting enough to satisfy me on the weekends. At seventeen I got a job away from home training to be a nurse, and I lived in the nurse’s quarters. Every night after work I would go to pubs, clubs and anywhere that had alcohol, I could recall leaving the quarters and those first few drinks, but I could never remember returning. I always woke up in my bed having no idea how I got there.
One night I remember going out, having my first drink and coming too in hospital with nuts and bolts coming out of my leg and a 30 lb weight pulling the bones back together. I was told by the staff that I had been in a car accident, I had been trapped for 6 hours and had to be cut out of the wreck, The right side of my body had been crushed and needed multiple operations. They told me that I had a lengthy stay in hospital ahead of me.
My first thought was “How can I get a drink?” Inside I started to panic, but it didn’t last long because every time I looked sideways I was given pills, sedatives to keep me calm because I was in traction and had to be kept immobile to allow the bones to reset, several types of pain killers and injections and sleeping pills to help my body get enough rest to promote healing. On top of that were the anaesthetics needed for the many ongoing operations.
I loved the anaesthetics. It was death without dying, plus it took me to that state of oblivion in an instant and I didn’t have to spend time drinking glass after glass of alcohol. I ended up being in hospital for 18 months. At 17 months the staff told me I only had 4 weeks to go That terrified me, I didn’t fit in the big world out there, I never had and I felt I never would . I started saving my medication, I took some and saved some, I couldn’t face life without anything.
While saving my medications and planning on killing myself when I had enough, I tried a few other ways of dying that didn’t work, I was insane…crazy. At one point I remember getting a bedpan and pretending I couldn’t go and for hours spraying air freshener into a cup and drinking it to try and poison myself but just making myself very sick, at that time I didn’t have any access to alcohol.
By the time I had hoarded enough of my medication to hopefully kill myself, it was the day before I was due to go home. I took them and woke up 18 hours later in the psychiatric hospital and was diagnosed with all sorts of things and put on psyche drugs, they didn’t take me to oblivion as the alcohol had and I was extremely anxious.
I had heard about a cough mixture that contained alcohol, so every time I had day leave I would smuggle bottles of the stuff in, and like the first alcohol I had tasted……I hated it, but it did what I needed it to. On Pg xxviii in our book, the Doctors Opinion reminds us we cannot have alcohol “in any form at all” cough mixture, at that time, was the alcohol I needed and had easy access to.
I finally left the psyche hospital and moved into a boarding house. Not long after that I met a man and fell in love and thought marriage would “fix” me. We lived together and he was a kind gentle man. I loved him and he loved me, I thought at last my fear would go and I would be a worthwhile person, I fell pregnant and we got married, but guess what? That didn’t “fix “me.
I was drinking and adding sedatives, just like Bill W in his story in the BB, Dr shopping filled the gap when I wasn’t able to get alcohol and I drank until I passed out, over the next couple of years I had my two children, first a girl then a boy. I thought that would make me worthwhile…..but it didn’t.
I loved them and my husband but they didn’t make me better and I started hating myself more and more. By this time I was drinking continually and I had quite a list of doctors and I said and did anything to get myself to that unconscious state, I even had long periods of time where I made up illnesses to get anaesthetics administered. I started blaming my husband for everything, took the two kids and left him.
I went further and further down, I kept telling myself I was okay because I still had my kids and I did love them. Looking back I see that I put my kids through hell, but I couldn’t see that, things kept getting worse and worse, I was drunk and unconscious more than I was awake. At the ages of 6 and 3 my kids were looking after me, one day I went to sleep with a cigarette with my little son in bed with me…..I don’t know what woke me up, but when I did I saw that the pillow between us was on fire. That scared me enough to want to do something.
I put my kids in a home and went into rehab, that was to be the beginning of my “rehab shuffle”. I left after 4 days to save my kids from being hurt in the home, at least that is what I told myself anyway. By the time I reached the home where they were I was halfway gone. We didn’t have a proper place to go to so we lived on the streets and in cheap motels. Finally desperation drove me to another rehab where I could take the kids with me. I detoxed and stayed sober on fear alone.
This rehab was very strict and I was just too scared to screw up. I was there for 4 months when my husband showed up and took the kids away from me. I was devastated and for the first time I had a good excuse to drink again…but I didn’t. I stayed there for 6 months then went to live in a halfway house. From there I started going to AA meetings feeling worthless and afraid of everything. I kept going to meetings; I read the Steps on the wall and thought I could do them except for the God ones. At this point I hated God.
At the meetings I got mixed messages, I really thought this program was for me, however I had some people tell me I didn’t drink enough to be a real alcoholic and to try another 12th Step program, but there were a few older members telling me to come back. I knew that when I listened to people sharing I related to all they said about their desperate need to drink…..these mixed messages really fed my feelings of being a misfit and on a couple of occasions I was abused for mentioning how I drank on top of the pills.
I only went to meetings occasionally and stood at the back of the room and listened, but those older members still told me to come back, By this stage I wasn’t drinking or taking anything else just like in the BB where it says “ Today I feel I have used up my right to chemical peace of mind” I had nothing, I had lost my kids, my marriage, my home and my family.
On the suggestions of AA members I went to another 12th Step program where I was told I didn’t take the right kind of drugs for that fellowship and to try AA. I became very suicidal but I didn’t relapse. I had 2 years sobriety when I went into another rehab but nothing was working for me.
I kept going to the meetings where the older members were and they always gave me hope that one day I would fit there. Throwing myself into volunteer work kept me active 7 days a week and I wasn’t thinking of dying all the time.
By now I had about 14 years of sobriety. I moved in with my parents and had the great honour to be able to make amends by nursing both of them until they passed and I know they had forgiven me.
My family, which I hadn’t seen for about 10 years, started to come back into my life and I was building a new relationship with them. I was still going to a few AA meetings and felt I related better there than the other fellowship. I was working the Steps as best I could from the banners and standing at the back of the room, sadly at no stage was I offered sponsorship.
By this time I had re-established a relationship with my son who is now married and has 3 children, I am blessed to be able to spend time with them, and this is something that I never thought would happen. This October I will be 31 years sober, I am happier but I would not call it sobriety or recovery. Around two years ago my son realised he had a problem with alcohol and 9-10 months ago he detoxed in hospital and started to go to AA. His Home Group has an annual dinner for the members and their families and he invited me.
I was so proud of him…..I had never had a Home Group. After the dinner the group had a meeting and asked me to stay, it was a Big Book study meeting. I had heard about the Big Book but had only read parts of it that had been photocopied in some of the rehabs I had been in.
Something special happened in that meeting, firstly I didn’t stand at the back of the room, I sat with the members. I got asked to share, I was terrified but I did and to my surprise no-one said I didn’t belong, in fact it was the opposite and as the meeting went on I started to feel, for the very first time, that I belonged.
After the meeting someone asked me if I wanted a sponsor and they gave me their number. I rang her and we started immediately on the Steps. I had attempted them before but never the way the Big Book suggested.
While doing the first Step my sponsor showed me the story “Acceptance was the Answer” From that moment I knew I belonged and no-one can ever tell me again that I don’t. So here I am in my 31st year of recovery, not drinking , not using anything else to change the way I feel and I feel like a baby in AA, I now have a Home Group that I share with my son. I know I belong and I am very excited to work the program the way the Big Book suggests.
I am doing service and for the first time ever I am the secretary of one of the meetings my Home Group runs. The most exciting thing of all is that I am not just sober, I am experiencing recovery and it’s all thanks to my Higher Power for holding me safe until the right group and the right members crossed my path.
Too Afraid To Live
I was a bit of a late starter when it came to drinking, I didn’t start till I was 17 or so. First drinking experience was at a party and I was dared to down 6 beers in 5 mins, not one to look weak I succeeded and was promptly drunk, sick and on my way home from the party. I stayed away from drinking for a while after that.
I grew up with my father and didn’t see my mother from the age of 3 till 14. She was a drinker and a drug user and that took her away from us. I spent my life feeling sorry for myself that mum wasn’t around and that dad wasn’t looking after us properly. I had one sister and fought with her constantly for dad’s attention. I learned at an early age to lie about why mum wasn’t around, this was from shame and quickly spread out into me lying all through my childhood. I always felt alone and not as good as everyone else, this meant I had to make up reasons why you would like me and become whatever I thought you wanted me to be. When I was found out for lying or generally felt set upon I would lash out violently at the drop of a hat and got into a lot of trouble with family and friends.
I was gifted academically and was accepted into a prestige’s selective high school, I only applied because I thought it would make my father happy. When I started attending I told so many lies about myself that I was quickly isolated. Really what happened is that I isolated myself because if I spent too much time around the same people they would start doing incredibly unreadable things like taking an interest in the fanciful stories I would tell them! This meant I would be found out for lying (it was too hard to keep everything straight in my head).
My mother started to make a slow appearance in my life around this time, I had wanted her in my life so badly I didn’t even question why she hadn’t been there and forgave her instantly, this caused more friction between my sister and me. More friction meant I now felt even more isolated, I was scared all the time of being found out as a liar so I isolated myself even more.
I rarely went to school (1-2 days) a week but was still managing to squeak through the tests and maintain a passing grade, this stopped around 15 when I stopped going to school altogether as it was too hard to keep up the grade whilst not attending classes and quitting meant I didn’t have to be kicked out which was easier for me to face.
I kicked around with a couple of friends until around 18 and got a job. I ended up working around 70 hours a week at an electronics company and loved the pay check, this also meant I didn’t have time to face my life. I felt more alone and isolated than I thought possible. Around then I met a girl who had a couple of young kids who was struggling financially badly and we grew close. This was the perfect relationship for me as I felt like I was the knight in shining armour, I would swoop in, fix all her problems and she would love me forever! Secretly I couldn’t understand why I was always afraid of everyone and everything and couldn’t find a way out. 24 comes around and disaster strikes.
I lose the job. I go off the rails and have I hide in my house until I run out of money. I am now convinced that everything will be ok and I will be perfectly happy if only I am married. There would be no stress, I would not be alone and then I would feel better. I marry the girl mentioned earlier, get a job and take responsibility for making sure we have everything in the world we could need. To me this means things, possessions etc. I would be perfectly happy if only I had this new car, lived in that house etc.
After a year of marriage, I have 3 sons (1 biological, 2 adopted) and I am afraid of everything: money, people, failure etc. This was despite the fact that I now have everything I thought I wanted. What was I to do now?
Thankfully I found a solution! Alcohol. It started harmless enough, 1 six pack of beer a week to have with the football match on TV. I found that I could spend the week looking forward to that perfect time when I would drink, relax and be at ease. It was really like I spent the week with a belt around my chest cinched tight, I would live for the 2 hours when I could take it off and feel comfortable.
I quickly found that I could generate more reasons to drink if I had people over on the weekend for BBQ’s, socializing etc. I never really drank in bars because I was still afraid of people and wanted the safety of home. One drinking session a week turned into Friday and Saturday night. Thursday was also added to the list as surely the weekend started on Thursday?
This continued for a few years before becoming worse, Wednesday then Tuesday were also added to the drinking schedule but I didn’t have a problem I would tell myself. I was not drinking in the mornings, had a stressful life (I told myself that) so drinking was perfectly acceptable. I tried repeatedly to cut down but found something always came up, I ALWAYS had a reason I couldn’t not drink on a particular night. I still had a job so everything is fine I would tell myself, in fact hadn’t they promoted me several times, didn’t I now have so much responsibility that of COURSE I had to drink. It was to be expected.
My wife stood by me and now I am only living for the weekend. I am “maintenance” drinking throughout the week, just enough to knock me out for a few hours, sleep every night until Friday. Then it’s on, Friday night drink as soon as I get in the door. Stop when I pass out. Wake up Saturday morning before everyone else and quickly drink enough to knock me out again before they awaken. Repeat on Sunday. I am now a prisoner in my home as I can’t admit to them I have a problem, I have to hide the amount I am drinking (and we are talking huge amounts of cans here). This goes on week in and week out for 4-5 years. I am not 100% sure about how long. I decide I have to quit countless times and can’t.
I go cold turkey. After 3 days with no sleep at all I walk inside after having a smoke and everything goes black. I come to with the ambulance crew standing over me. I have had a seizure in front of my wife and kids. I am taken to hospital where I am told I have had a bleed to the brain. Three days later I sign myself out so I can go back to work. Coming home I tell my wife I am through with drinking, hell I tell myself I am through with drinking. This dry spell lasts for a few months before I am secretly buying vodka on my way home on Fridays so I can drink when they all go to bed, god how I hate vodka. This continues for a few months until I no longer care if my family know, all that matters is that I be able to drink. My wife threatens to leave, my kids beg me to stop, nothing matters except the drink. I now hate myself for my weakness, I couldn’t stop! Surely a decent man would stop for his family I would ask myself, then get more to drink and tell myself obviously, I wasn’t decent.
I wanted to die but lacked the courage to end my life (another good reason to have another drink though). I am now 33, drink whenever I can and as much as I can and have withdrawal symptoms every workday.
I can’t go on. I contact the drug and alcohol centre in town and take some time off work. They tell me they will look into getting me detoxed and not to stop drinking in the meantime as I will most likely go into seizures again. Excellent news! Someone has not only given me permission but actually told me to drink. I am too low to make use of my good fortune though as the worst thing in the world has happened. There is no longer any relief at all in drinking. I might be able to drink enough to knock myself out but I have no peace.
I contacted a man who was described to me as being in AA by my aunty. He encouraged me to go to a meeting whilst I was waiting for my hospital bed. I saw at the meeting a glimmer of hope, here were all these people who weren’t drinking. Even stranger they appeared happy? I really couldn’t figure that part out. They didn’t mind that I was unshaved, smelly and drunk at the meetings. They said it was good to have me there and to “keep coming back”. These people were really strange I thought, but something really unbelievable happened. They were telling me the truth about themselves, they were not lying (by this stage I am pretty good at spotting a liar as I am one myself) and for some unknown reason I started to tell them the truth as well.
I am still off work and get a call that they have a hospital bed ready for me. I go in and start the detox. This wasn’t the best week of my life, I am seeing things that aren’t there, hearing things that aren’t there and lying to the staff that I feel fine. I took a copy of the big book with me as I remembered the last time I quit and didn’t think I would be sleeping.
Well something else very strange happened, I started reading this book written in 1939 and it is all about me! Almost every line on every page must have been written about me!
The man I contacted in AA and another member came to visit me in hospital. I had asked for his help by being my sponsor. I told him about the book being about me, he smiled and promised me that he could help me through the suggestions outlined in the book, that he would do anything he could to help.
When I got out of the hospital I started to work though the steps with my sponsor, I still felt terrible and afraid but knew I didn’t have any other way out. It was this or die.
Within the next month, we started to go through the steps and were up to step 4. It was time to go back to work and I wanted to just quit. He suggested I simply tell them the truth about why I had been away for the last month (they knew I was having “personal issues”) but nothing further. The truth terrified me, it would be embarrassing (a fate worse than death in my mind!). He said the worst that could happen would be they let me go and I really did like my job and had spent over 10 years climbing the ranks.
Because I had decided to go to any lengths to be free I did as he suggested, convinced they would fire me on the spot for my problem. When I explained, they didn’t fire me, they thanked me for being honest! Asked if there was anything they could do to help and assured me if I need a protracted leave of absence it wouldn’t be a problem.
Suddenly I had an example of where telling the truth, admitting my problem didn’t mean people pounced on me, they tried to help. I set out on a course of action, working through the steps as outlined in the big book like a man possessed. Every day brought me more relief and I started to feel whole, at ease and comfortable. I couldn’t remember feeling this way my entire life.
By 2 months out of the hospital I had completed most of my amends with a couple outstanding as I can’t track them down. I was doing the daily disciplines of steps 10 & 11. I am studying the traditions as they are helping me greatly interact with people in AA and the world as a whole. I am starting to become free.
Today I am free of the desire to drink, I am at peace with my wife and kids, my family and the rest of the world. I know I will always be an alcoholic but I am recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. I am free from fear
Just for today I have a peace in my life that grows each day, a faith in God’s plan for me and a certainty that “just for today” can be every day if I am honest, humble & open minded. If I strive to share this gift of sobriety freely with all it will ensure I am able to remain sober. These are the gifts I have been given in AA. My life is better than it has ever been and each day seems to be getting even better.