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From Idiocy to Sobriety

Audio Version

In 1980 I was 44 years of age. I knew I wasn’t an Idiot. How could I be an Idiot? I still had a wife and two sons aged 16 and 12. I still had a BIG house in one of the best parts of a Dundee suburb. I still had two cars in the drive – a BIG one (mine) and a smaller one but I couldn’t drive either of them because I had lost my licence. Well, it wasn’t ‘lost’ – those b------s in Swansea had it…again. Life was most unfair! I now know that I was indeed an Idiot back then. I was insane. I drank alcohol every day and had done so for 10 years with never a day off.

In my teens I discovered the magic potion, alcohol. It fixed me. It took away the shyness that plagued me. It made me fit in when I previously never could. It cunningly ‘gave’ me things. As long as it did the job all was well.

Now 25 years later it had stopped doing the job. Towards the end I could not go more than a couple of hours without topping up – day or night. I consumed very large quantities of alcohol – latterly the cheapest vodka. Long gone were the days when I savoured a fine malt. It was totally my master. I had lost the ability to care. I lied, cheated, denied and broke promises. I was helpless and nearer to death than I knew.

In June 1980 I was admitted to an alcoholic unit in a hospital in Montrose. A blood sample taken on admission revealed a liver count the second highest they had ever had in the 11 years that unit had been in operation. The higher count died.

Sadly, I drank again some weeks after being discharged from that unit. All it took was an innocent remark from a relative; “It’s great that you are cured”.  Within days I had taken that fatal first drink. Croft Original Sherry surely would be OK?  I was still ‘important’. I still knew just about everything about just about everything. Those delusions and that ego had to be smashed.

I did attend a few meetings of AA and was taken to my first meeting in Forfar (I refused to go to a meeting in Dundee in case someone might see me walking into an AA room). Thankfully, that soon passed. It was at an early meeting that someone said “Of course there are two types of alcoholic”.

At this I paid close attention – I was about to hear something significant. He went on “Yes, there are two types of alcoholic – male and female”.

On Saturday 13 December 1980, I had sneaked out the back door of the house and furtively crept down the road – in shirtsleeves – to a local hotel where I drank all day. In the early evening I must have had a flash of sanity – I phoned a friend I had met in AA. He turned out and drove the nine miles from Monifieth to Broughty Ferry to collect me on that snowy evening. In his cosy little home that night something wonderful happened. I recall saying that I thought I must be one of the hopeless cases I had read about. For the very first time I totally admitted defeat. I was not aware of any change within me but something significant happened. I have never had to have a drink of alcohol from that evening till now.

Starting with the Carnoustie meeting the following evening (that became my home group), I developed a pattern of regular attendance at meetings. I began to listen and observe at meetings. I learned how to learn - imagine someone like me who knew it all and I’m still learning to this day. I asked that good man who had saved me that Saturday evening to become my sponsor and I put some serious work into this magical Programme and I experienced a spiritual awakening. I am no longer ‘important’. I no longer have to pretend or lie.

Today I am blessed with riches beyond belief. Not material things - real riches. A loving wife who, God only knows how, always stood by me and kept the show on the road during the darkest bits. Two loving sons with wives each and two wonderful grandchildren and ALL of them are a source of great pride and joy to us both.  I am grateful.

I can recall so clearly my very first Highland Gathering in Inverness in 1981. Hundreds and hundreds of sober alcoholics, all happy. The slogan above the stage was ‘Beyond Your Wildest Dreams’ and so it has turned out for me. Indeed, from Idiocy to Sobriety.

We moved to Golspie in April 1982 and I, along with four other recovering alcoholics, started the Golspie AA Group on Sunday 13 October 1985. One founder member died sober and the other four are sober to this day - two of us still regular at the Golspie Meeting which is still flourishing in the Community Room, Lawson Memorial Hospital with 12 or more attending regularly. One of them claims the Golspie meeting has the largest catchment area in the UK. He himself does a round trip of 150 miles and several Caithness members do more than 120 miles. When people ‘reach’ for it like that it shows AA is alive and working well in the Highlands.

In gratitude and with thanks to my Higher Power.

Hugh
Golspie Sunday