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When I first came into AA, like everyone else I was faced with the slogans and saying on the walls, and the catchphrases that are used on a regular basis. They mean very little in the beginning.

The one that slightly confused me the most was ‘I am a grateful alcoholic’. Why would you be grateful for a condition that was killing you? Why, unlike normal people, couldn’t I take a drink without it triggering that compulsion to have more?

I have experienced several traumatic events in my life and struggled with alcoholism, and I did not understand the word ‘gratitude’. It took a lot of reflection and working on myself before I understood and experienced gratitude.

As an alcoholic I had lost hope in nearly all things worthwhile in my life. It had sucked the life out of me. I found it very hard to find joy, motivation, faith or hope for my future. I blamed everyone else and past events for where I found myself. I was the victim, and the world was out to get me. I never once considered learning from my mistakes, or that maybe, just maybe, I was the problem. I was selfish and self-centred almost 100% of the time.

Eventually, the pain became too great and I decided to do something about it. I could no longer continue living this way. I decided to join AA where I discovered the Fellowship and the 12-Step Programme. It taught me how to face my trauma and fears. I was encouraged to help people, to be less selfish, and to make amends to those I had hurt. This was alien to me and frightening – these were new ideas that made me look at myself with a view to change. It was not easy, and it took a lot of time and effort but, as my sponsor suggested, I followed through with the Programme and gave it my wholehearted effort.

So if you are new to the Programme or are struggling and hear somebody say they are a grateful alcoholic, ask them why. I am sure they will be willing to share their story and you will understand why.

Grangemouth 3 Pillars/Dunblane Wednesday night