Saved by the Steps
Saved by the Steps
Before I came to AA I had not linked the trouble I was in to alcohol. Looking back now I cannot understand why not as the link was very obvious. I was desperate to stop the trouble and I could not understand why I behaved the way I did. I would set out to do something and end up doing something else. I never noticed that in between setting out and doing I had gone for a drink. Going for a drink was like breathing, it was not something that I noticed. I would wake up and not remember what had happened the previous evening and then wait for the inevitable disaster news that would be forthcoming. I had not turned up at the planned meeting or even worse I had turned up and I had behaved in some ridiculous way. I had to be crazy. I did things I didn't want to do. I went places I didn't want to go to. And I certainly said things I didn't want to say. Why? The only reason I could see was that I was insane. I had antagonised and attacked all of my closest friends and family. At first I didn't believe the stories as I could not remember but eventually I had to recognise that I had done or said what I was being told.
The only problem that I was sure alcohol brought me was that I wet the bed when drunk. So much so that I received a medical discharge from HM forces as a result. Other than that easily dismissed little problem, alcohol was the thing that brought me comfort. It promised to be the panacea of life's problems. I was always just a couple short of getting there.
My parents, with whom I lived, thought that alcohol was my problem and forced me to go to AA. At the meetings I heard and saw old men talking about alcohol in a way that I had not heard before. They appeared to have some of the behaviour problems that I had. But they were decent men whose lives were affected by years of hard drinking. I was only 23 and I was just a nasty bad person. Even some of these men told me I was too young to be an alcoholic. I didn't stay and I carried on drinking. But life was different. I kept thinking of what these men had said. Perhaps I was alcoholic and not just totally mad. Sometimes I found AA pamphlets in my pockets showing that I had been to meetings drunk and in a blackout. I remember sitting half drunk and crying. I was wishing that I was an alcoholic because then maybe I could get well.
I came back to AA about 3 months after I had first gone. If stopping drinking was the price I had to pay to stop the way I behaved then so be it. Perhaps I would get better. Immediately the bed wetting stopped. The AA old men didnā??t seem so old now, and there were even a couple just a few years older than me. Gradually I got better. My behaviour improved and I even started to enjoy life. All I had to do was go to meetings and stay away from the first drink just for today. It was great. As I was getting better, I was accepting that I was an alcoholic.
I did have the odd day when my behaviour reverted to type but I thought that would just go with time. It didn't, and I started thinking that I was just a bad nasty person again. When I was drinking I had attempted suicide a couple of times as I was so disgusted with myself. I started to believe again that suicide was my way out and that my family would be better off without me. Drunk or sober, my life was a mess.
Some of you may have noticed I have not mentioned the 12 Steps. These were not important to me. I did not know anyone who worked them or even talked about them. They appeared to be things that were written on scrolls that hung on the wall behind the speaker at a meeting, but I had been warned about them. "Keep away from them and the Big Book. They'll get you drunk."
They actually saved my life.
I honestly cannot remember why or when I started on them but there were a couple of us who were interested. The 12 Steps gave me a template to change, a method of doing it. As I didn't know anyone who worked the steps my attempts without guidance were a bit poor but they were better than none. Again gradually I improved. I was able to recognise that I had a deep feeling of loathing for myself. The 12 Steps showed me how to forgive me and how to love myself. Being able to love myself opened me up to really caring for and loving others. Life has become good, full of love, joy, peace and happiness. I still have bad things happen. Life goes on and sometimes it isn't all pleasant, but my God has blessed me with the ability to cope, although sometimes not on my own. I am now 77 years of age and it is over 54 years since I last needed to take a drink. I still believe I cannot do this by myself and I have absolutely no desire to try by myself. I am fortunate to enjoy my meetings and I am forever grateful to the people who have helped me, especially those who thought I was helping them.