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Practice these Principles

MY name is Dave and I am an alcoholic.

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MY name is Dave and I am an alcoholic. When I had been in the Fellowship for two years, I went to London to see a friend who I had met when I was in a treatment centre. We were sitting in a park (I still don’t know the name of it) when they said to me, “How would you say your life has changed since you came into the treatment centre two years ago?”. I replied, “When I came in, I had nothing, I had lost everything, marriage, kids, home, job, car, friends, self-respect. I was even ‘sacked’ as a churchwarden of the church I’ve been going to for a few decades. Now, two years on, I still have nothing but it is a ‘better class of nothing’. “…there has been a revolutionary change in their way of living and thinking.” (BB p.50) The pandemic gave me a chance to reflect on my life. Due to AA, I was able to accept isolation and was happy with my own company. I was reminded a lot about a Fellow, who I met when I first came to AA and who became a very good friend. He died sober just prior to the pandemic. His motto was, and he always said it to me, “Keep It Simple”, so here goes.

“What was it like?” In my twenties, I drank in the evening to be sociable. In my thirties, I drank straight after work. In my forties, I started drinking at lunchtime at work. In my fifties, I started drinking first thing in the morning. (that’s a bit of a lie as I was just carrying on drinking from the night before). 

“What happened?” I was fifty-nine when my youngest daughter came round to see me. I answered the door in my dressing gown while holding a bottle of alcohol, even though it was the afternoon. She said, “Dad, you need help and I can’t help you. Maybe these people can.” and gave me a list of treatment centres. This is now what I call my first spiritual experience. I looked at the information, called a centre and booked myself in. Within a week I was safely ensconced in a treatment centre being introduced to the AA Programme. 

“What is it like now?” In my sixties, I went to AA meetings and made good friends. I did what was suggested - worked the AA Programme and didn’t pick up a drink. I am now in my seventies and still sober. I’m not saying that it has been easy. 

When I came out of the treatment centre my eldest daughter said, “Dad, you’ve changed and I don’t like it. I don’t want to see you again.”  I didn’t like what she said and went on a five-day bender. I suspect that having been sober for two months I was looking for an excuse to have a drink. I starting drinking on Friday night in Lancing and ended up, five days later, travelling across the Norfolk countryside. I was on a miniature railway train nursing a bottle of alcohol at 9.30am. The rest of the train was occupied by schoolchildren nursing their lunchboxes. I then had my second spiritual experience - it then dawned on me that what I’d heard in AA was true. “If I don’t pick up that first drink, I won’t get drunk.” What I had proved to myself, yet again, is that I couldn’t pick up that first drink. I had done my own research. I have to be reminded, on a daily basis, of that train ride. 

Looking back over the years I’ve been in AA; it hasn’t been a bed of roses yet I have dealt with every task without the need to pick up a drink. Stopping drinking was the easy part. Living life on life’s terms is what AA has taught me to do. I have been blessed with many things since I have been sober. My youngest daughter gave me this beautiful Christmas present two years ago. She thanked me for helping her with her years of studying. I said that I hadn’t helped as I know nothing about her studies. She replied that she didn’t have to worry about me, what I was up to, how much I was drinking. She said that I had AA and friends in AA. (What a testament to AA if only I continue to work for it). My eldest daughter, who didn’t want to see me, got married last year. I was there as she wanted me to be there. And so, the last part of Step Twelve springs to mind, “I practice these principles in all my affairs.

DAVE W, Lancing