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The Roundabout Interview

Many thanks to Nicky G, Inverness Steps and Traditions Group, Sunday.

Audio version:


What first brought you to AA?
A minor car accident – reversing a low, black car into a low, white wall – after taking a wrong turn driving back to the hotel I was staying in. When I woke up in the morning, and saw the state of my rental car, something changed inside and I knew I had to do something about my drinking.

Was there one thing that made you realise you had a problem with drink?
Yes, when the blackouts started becoming unexpected and unpredictable. Up to that point I had imagined I was in still in control and just worked hard and played hard.

How did you know about AA?
From other family members who had touched on the Fellowship.

How did you contact AA?
I checked online to see where the local meetings were and then just walked across the road to my first meeting.

What do you remember of your first meeting?
Hearing a band practising in the church hall as I walked up the driveway and thinking that the people outside having a cigarette and a laugh must be band members – because what would alcoholics who couldn’t drink have to laugh about? Sitting, waiting for the meeting to start, and thinking that I’d made a big mistake coming – I couldn’t possibly have anything in common with these old, English guys…and then being completely shocked when they started speaking about things I’d done, felt, said and thought – things that I believed I was the only person to do, feel, say and think.

What was your initial impression of AA?
A safe place, full of people that seemed at ease with themselves and others. It was comforting and intriguing.

Was there anything you didn’t like about AA?
The mention of God. Me and Him had parted company a long time back and I really didn’t like the idea that God had to be a part of the answer to my problem.

What changed your mind?
Being told I could have a Higher Power, rather than the God I believed I had fallen out with, and that I could choose what that Higher Power was.

What in particular made a difference to you?
Finding people I could trust, and open up to, in AA.  Seeing that people weren’t made to feel silly for asking questions, and coming to believe that this might just work for me.

Was there anything you found difficult to do in AA?
Involving other people in stuff I would much rather have been able to sort out on my own.

Do you have a favourite AA slogan or phrase? Why?
What comes from the heart reaches the heart.
I believe that the raw honesty and empathy of AAs sharing, and the hope that can give, is what draws us into recovery.

What has AA done for your family?
It’s made me a part of it again. I can actually be there for family members when they need me – rather than just showing up for big occasions where drink was involved.

How do you feel you have changed?
I consciously try to look for the good things in life instead of the bad and I try to respond rather than react.

What does ‘putting back into AA’ mean to you?
Doing service, and doing for others what was done for me.

What do you say to a newcomer?
To stay away from the first drink and, if they can get to bed sober, to tell themselves they are a winner. To get to as many meetings as they can, and to listen for the similarities not the differences. To get phone numbers from sober members and to pick up the phone before they pick up a drink.

Has Roundabout played a part in your AA journey?
Share was actually my first introduction to Fellowship magazines (as I got sober in Cornwall) but I remember being delighted when I found out that there was a Scottish magazine too. They were both really helpful in my early days when I was finding the  old-fashioned language of the Big Book hard going and, today, I love reading articles in Roundabout from people I have actually met.

Anything else you’d like to add?
Alcoholics Anonymous is the only thing I’ve ever joined and stuck with, and recovery is the only thing I’ve ever kept practising, and for both these things I am eternally grateful.