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Young In Years, Young In Sobriety
Birthday number three has just gone by for me. I feel like a kid again on my AA birthdays. The build-up, the excitement and then it’s over and life returns to normal. As they say it is ‘one day at a time.’
I remember each of my AA birthdays very clearly, more so than I remember most of the belly button ones before. The first I was in a recording studio (I’m a professional musician), the second I woke up in Denmark to start a tour and the third I woke up in my flat in Glasgow. I had to be in the studio that day too. My business partner and I met for a coffee beforehand. We hugged, laughed and shared a few memories from the drinking days. Thankfully they are just memories now. Later in the day I spoke to my brother. We’ve always been close. We drank together, got into trouble together, but the bond we have now is so different. It feels real all of a sudden.
AA met me when I was 21, right at the end of my studies at university. All four years had been a mixture of blackouts, arguments and making deadlines by the skin of my teeth. You all know the drill. I was broken and I didn’t even realise it. During that first meeting I can only describe myself as angry. Who did these people think they were? They were going to take my partying away from me. I was too young, too busy with work, too good looking (I hadn't looked in a mirror obviously) to have anything to do with getting sober.
After about four months of messing about I finally started to listen to what was being said and gradually the want and need for alcohol started to lift from me. I was terrified at the prospect. The industry I work in requires that I travel, am far from the security of meetings and usually with people who like a good drink too. How was I going to avoid temptation?
The answer, as a good AA friend told me, was action. Like many alcoholics I’ve struggled with this concept. It’s very easy to find excuses not to do things. In the early days of sobriety I was great at making meetings, taking numbers and making coffee but somehow that slipped away around the two year mark. I wasn’t making as many meetings due to my touring commitments and eventually I stopped calling people. Making that crucial contact with people who understand you is what we all need to help us in recovery. I busied myself with work and dating apps (believe me I’ve never used them for dating).
At the time I was getting out of a bad relationship and my head was about to explode. The change came with a new sponsor who gave me some clear guidelines. Delete the apps, start getting up before lunch on your days off, go to meetings and meet people. Would you believe it, things quickly got much better!
It stood me in good stead for my work over the summer. In the space of one month I’d be working in England, France, Spain and Scotland. It was tough and there was a lot of driving involved but even that is a gift. I wasn’t allowed near the driver’s seat four years ago. That is a trust that could only have been built through the Fellowship.
The next challenge came in October when one of the projects I work for took me to Germany. Every member of this project is a close friend and we had time off which meant a night out with the lads in Berlin. Due to funds being limited we were staying a fair bit out of the city centre and I was scared in case I wouldn't be able to find a way out if I needed it.
As it turned out it was a cracking night. There was an all-night newsagent across the street from the club the band went to. I went in and bought a 10-pack of Mars bars and found myself on the dance floor munching away and drinking water, much to the amusement of my colleagues. I must have looked like the parent helper at the school disco. At one point someone came up to me and asked “Got any gear?” For a moment I thought “Why the hell would this guy want an amplifier?” Then I realised what he meant, laughed and politely said “No”. Guess I’m still daft in sobriety.
In conclusion, this night out has proven to me that the only thing I can’t do in my life is lift up that first drink. We arrive in AA when the time is right for us, no matter what age we are. The other aspects of life like going out, having fun or making new friends all still exist and in a far better form. If you feel uncomfortable by all means get out of the situation you’re in but if you are with good folk then there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy socialising with them. Just make sure they are friends.
As I write this I’m sitting in a friend’s flat in Warsaw on my first sober holiday. Yes, I’ve travelled in sobriety but this is the first holiday I’ve had. In an hour’s time I’m going to head into town, grab a coffee and go and see some of the sights. We’ll head to an English-speaking meeting afterwards. New city, new meetings and the best day is yet to come for all of us.
Gay Safe Haven Group, Friday, Glasgow