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Saved from insanity

MY experience of faith for most of my life before coming to AA was to pray for my team to score and win, or others to miss a penalty or lose. I prayed hard for those things and really meant it, but as you’ll guess had mixed results! I only ever went to church for weddings, funerals, and christenings. I never liked being told to stand up and sit down all the time, or that everyone else seemed to know what they were doing, and I didn’t have a clue. I never gave faith much thought but mocked people of religion on the rare occasion the topic ever came up.

At the end of my drinking days, I remember falling to my knees in a complete state of despair and screaming out to something or someone a heartfelt plea for help, along with a number of unprintable words in our good Share mag! Within a couple of weeks, I found myself in AA. It took me quite a while to see that these two events may be linked. I was in a really bad state and was willing to do anything to get out of it.

I don’t remember any strong feelings about seeing the word God on the banners in the meetings or hearing people talk about a faith in their Higher Power. I think I was beyond that and sufficiently damaged and desperate to try anything. I went to meetings every lunch time and every evening in the early months. Looking back, the key to me ‘coming to believe’ in a Power greater than me was simply talking and listening to others who this had worked for. I would do anything for relief from this dreadful illness. The meetings were a huge comfort and gave me a safe space to be in as my mind cleared and my body repaired a little.

Finding a sponsor who understood me, and whose drinking stories I could relate to, was essential for me. We met often and talked a lot as we read through the Big Book together. This really helped me to make sense of the Big Book and to follow the suggested actions to recover and find a faith. Being restored to sanity was no controversy to me. I had been diagnosed with a mental illness a couple of years before coming into AA. Through my drinking, I had experienced psychotic episodes, DTs, and general poor mental health. I came to understand though, that the insanity in this case I was being saved from, was the insanity of taking that first drink when I knew only too well what would follow. I needed a solid Step One to properly appreciate this.

My faith and understanding of God has changed over the years, which the Programme suggests will happen. That Power greater than me is beyond words or true understanding. The key thing for me is that I have learned to trust wholeheartedly in that Power and how to pray in a meaningful way. I still want my team to win just as much these days, but I know it’s not all about my will!

SIMON D, Penarth, South Wales