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I kept coming back

I came into AA terrified. I had been living in a fearful state for years, as my solution – which was never really a great solution – wasn’t enabling me to live at peace with my brothers and sisters. Although I still live alone now, I am usually content in my own company. In the years before coming to AA I was desperate and desperately lonely and self-isolated.

Folk had tried to help along the way. When I was 20 and about to be thrown out of an institution because of my drinking, a personal tutor tried to Twelve Step me. What I heard was, “Hi, I am American, I am teetotal and you’re an alcoholic”. I imagine she said she was an alcoholic, but I only realised that 10 years later when I had a mini spiritual awakening and ended up in the AA rooms. To be honest when the words “I am teetotal” came out of my short-lived new-found friend’s mouth, I stood up, put on my coat and left the private room. I wasn’t going to spend an extra second in the company of a nondrinker more than I had to.

Just before I was invited to spend time in a home for the bewildered for a while (the alternative was to be ‘taken’ there) another American lady tried to help my hourly addiction to my alternative consumption of other substances – my way of cutting back on my drinking. I didn’t stop or curtail much or any drinking, especially when I took the first drink. My prescription was to keep going or accelerate, whilst having no consequences, the pain removed and to keep my job or be promoted to chief person in charge of anything I was ranting about at the time. I think she may have spoken in recovery slogans, but clean time and abstinence were things I picked up – no use to me at that time carrying my alcoholic head.

I spent a few months in an establishment that closed in the weeks after I left and I again declined rehab. I was deeply distressed and insane and couldn’t understand why any normal citizen would sit in a church hall at an AA meeting and speak, listen and pray for relatively short periods of time, a few times a week to end up being happy, content and sane. After regaining my drinking muscles, I went back to the drink – and misery. Fortunately for me and those who love me and those who had to put up with my alcoholism, my drinking muscles were finally worn out and I took my puny self to a meeting. This was a few days after waking up, after my last session to date, defeated at depth.

My father had left pages of meetings in Aberdeen for me to find amongst the trash on my floor. The book Living Sober provided the bedrock of my early days, with a practical programme of self-care and self survival. This was handy for me as I was spiritually bankrupt, but the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous and its spiritual way of life (whatever that was) appealed. I tried being spiritual and letting the God of my own understanding choose stories from the back of the book for me. The book must have had a creased spine and it ‘opened’ a good number of times on shares about a native Indian taking train rides.

I kept coming back though, and I am still trying to develop a spiritual way of life to maintain a daily reprieve from the physical and mental illness of alcoholism. Part of that Programme is to take willing, open-minded, honest fellows through the Steps, as outlined in the Big Book. My first book Living Sober helped me. It said if I had issues as well as alcoholism, help could be sought from outside agencies. This is my story too, but an outside issue for this forum. I am learning that from time with my fellows in meetings, the service structure and the book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. May the God of your understanding bless you.

Yours in Fellowship,

Richard D
Montrose Wednesday