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Beyond Your Wildest Dreams Really?

At my first few AA meetings, my impressions consisted of a) that I was noticed, and welcomed with warmth and b) that others in the rooms seemed a little too bright and happy! On top of that, some of the women looked great - and had clearly taken care with their appearance. One of the first I met had on long black high-heeled boots, wore lipstick and had her glasses perched up in her hair, just like film stars do. This effort to dress well did not often apply to the guys, but nevertheless one or two clearly had made an effort to look good. At least they 90% blew the stereotype of being down and out! 

There also seemed to be an unusual degree of merriment at times; some folk even told a joke or two. What was there to make them smile and appear happy? There was some talk, too, of Steps and a Programme. I had no idea what those were! As for having a Higher Power, what on earth was that? I have to say that since no one really had time to tell me more, I was in the dark for some months, but to be honest, I was very determined to rush out the door at the end of meetings and never arrived early so as not to speak to anyone. What would I say? Might they know me? 

As I got to know the language of AA a little better, I learned the descriptions of some of those Steps: make a list of persons…make amends…well I could start on those – especially on a list of those who had made me mad, and should be apologising to me. Amends? That will be right! 

As a result of my avoiding hanging about at meetings, let alone at the break (if there was one) - sometimes I actually left at half time - it took me ages to learn that I might need a sponsor. Was this then a race? Certainly, as I was to learn, it would all be a challenge. The Big Book was gifted to me at my second meeting by one of the men. It did look a bit grim - large, with a dark cover, heavy, and thick - where would I store that? However the man was handsome and well-dressed, so there might be something in it after all. 

I was fairly quiet at those early meetings, not sure what I was prepared to say out loud. I avoided the word ‘alcoholic’, and settled for saying ‘My name is …’, and that I was drinking too much - just in fact the tip of the iceberg. Other words caught my interest: ‘beyond your wildest dreams’ - well God knows what they were on! So much of my first year was a superficial link. I was not on any Programme, and had made no friends. Part of me also felt I was too late age-wise for it all to be any use. Why not keep drinking? How long did I want to live anyway? I was to learn later, when I asked about the expression ‘dry drunk’, that it was me. In that first year, I did make several good attempts to stay alcohol free - at first some days in a row, which I counted religiously, then a few weeks, and then, to my disbelief, towards the end of that first year, having got a sponsor at last, I managed three whole months! How had I managed that? 

That was a wee while ago now. My quality of life has gradually improved, my health is steadier. If I exercised more and ate more wisely this might still improve. Emotionally, I am on a permanent learning curve: getting used to thinking of others, becoming aware of my egocentricity, practising the Steps, finding ways of doing service, and passing this message on, have to some degree become a way of life. That doesn’t mean to say that I have a halo - it takes longer still to become spiritually well. Not that I knew the meaning of that. I did notice on my journey, and in more recent years, that my thought “I will never again dance to Abba” has been proved wrong, for at Spanish conventions, at the disco, on a warm evening, I was up there. Who was this new person? Even more recently, I have added in the Proclaimers, and begun prompting the disc jockey for music I like. 

One things is very clear: I am nearer having my wildest dreams fulfilled than I ever thought possible. So it is possible really - my wildest dreams. You can get there too. 

Elaine K