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Following a New Path

Audio Version

I was part of the post war baby boom, growing up in the fifties and sixties in a suburban Glasgow housing scheme surrounded by countryside. In making sense of my life and environment I had accepted it as being normal and expected my life to continue being normal. I followed the road I expected, but without goals or ambitions. I aimlessly followed the crowd with no set plan of my own. I daydreamed my way through school, getting very average marks and leaving at 15 with no academic qualifications other than good attendance. I started my working life as an apprentice and joined in with the crowd, doing what they did. I was a follower who stuck to traditions, latest trends and social habits, blended in with my background and would change nothing.

Alcohol was central to my being part of the crowd in most social settings. It was the welcome, the handshake, the greeting, the friend that made me feel relaxed and confident and the companion that gave any event or evening a warm glow that I wished would never end.

On many occasions I tried to maintain that feeling by consuming more alcohol in a vain attempt to stop the glow from fading, but with increasing frequency this had the diametrically opposite effect and led to many tense and bad outcomes. Without being aware of it my unquestioned use of and relationship with alcohol was playing a more and more supportive role in my day to day activities both at home and at work. I never considered at any time that it was dominating or influencing my judgement and behaviour.

Now married with a family, my alcohol consumption was becoming an issue with my wife, friends and workplace. Arguments and disagreements were becoming frequent and heated in which I would be vociferous in my denial that my drinking was causing problems. I would shout down or bully my wife into silent submission. By increments, unacceptable behaviour became acceptable and tolerated. Drink driving became the norm after nights out, mostly getting home unscathed until one time I didn't and spent a week in hospital feeling sheepish and even sorry for myself. Even then I continued to drink and drive and a few times did not know where I had left the car. My erratic and bad behaviours meant the divorce was inevitable but in my mind I was the victim. I felt I was entitled to enjoy myself and saw no harm in having a good time, but my idea of a good time was not shared by friends and family. I was convinced they were overreacting.

The same behaviours continued on into my second marriage. My denial of alcoholism and belief in my own self control were as strong as ever but the signs and symptoms were repeating themselves. My life had become unmanageable without drink, or so I thought. I was using alcohol to deal with every stress, to pick me up or calm me down on good days or bad. The same mistakes were being repeated over and over again. I had lost interest in everyone and everything around me, but by now alcohol was not doing what it had done before. It no longer calmed me but made me fearful. It no longer picked me up but now drained me instead. Things had changed. I had changed.

Life was a misery . . . and dark.

I could no longer go on drinking the way I did. Only then did I make the call to the AA Helpline. In joining AA, the Fellowship showed me there was another road. It was hard for me to believe that something that was embedded for so long in my mind could be so wrong. I came in, listened and learned about myself and learned that I need never drink again. It had never occurred to me that the solution to my problem was to stop taking the very solution I had depended on for so long. I had used and abused it until finally it used, abused and betrayed me.

Today the road I travel is with a sober crowd of friends who love life, are supportive and understand our illness.

AA has turned my life around with the simple message 'Don't pick up the first drink'. It works.

Forever grateful,

Allan

Anniesland Wednesday, Glasgow


Rubislaw Tuesday, Aberdeen