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I Doubted, But They Were Right
My name is Anne, I’m an alcoholic and my sobriety date is 19 November 2009, well over six years ago, one day at a time. I can hardly believe it when I look back to the night I reached out to a friend who was in the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. I hadn’t seen her for a long time, but she always put her phone number on her Christmas cards to me. I got one of her cards out of the drawer and phoned her at half past three in the morning and when she answered the phone I said “I’m in trouble with my drinking”. She was so pleased to hear from me and we talked for about two hours while she told me about AA. We made arrangements to go to a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous and I’ll never forget my first meeting when I opened the door of the old ODAAT Centre in Clydebank and saw these smiling, happy people, all laughing and chatting. This was not what I expected of an AA meeting, I thought everyone would be sad like me. I was given the loveliest welcome and all the women gave me their numbers which I still have today. My friend told me that her hearing wasn’t good and we would need to sit down the front – I sometimes use that ruse when I have a 12 Step! I couldn’t tell you what was said at that meeting only that I got a feeling of hope and unconditional love, the kind of love that my mother gave me. My alcoholism had made me feel like the loneliest person in the world, so lonely that I didn’t even want to be in the world any longer, but now I felt part of something – I was no longer alone. I have met many wonderful people in AA, both men and women, whose only goal was to help me achieve sobriety and get well. The love I was shown at that first meeting and the love I feel today in the Fellowship is amazing. I’m a member of a group and go to other meetings and there I can show the same love that was shown to me to a newcomer or someone who is struggling.
After not drinking for three months I went back out and had a drink but I was very lucky and got back the next day – some people aren’t that lucky. That day the sun was shining and I thought “A nice day at the Botanic Gardens would be lovely”. What I really meant was a drink would be lovely or so my head told me. I knew within myself that I was going to have a drink. That night my neighbour picked me up off the pavement. I’ve thought hard about why I went back out and I think I had not quite accepted my alcoholism and I’m glad to say that today I certainly have. On another occasion I had a strong desire for a drink. I had a sponsor by this time and although I hadn’t yet started on the Programme, my sponsor had told me that if I ever felt like a drink I was to phone her. I didn’t just feel like a drink, I had every intention of going for one, but I thought I might as well do what I was supposed to do before I went for the drink so I phoned her. I told her that nothing she would say would stop me going for a drink, but that I was doing as I was told and phoning her anyway. Within 10 minutes of talking on the phone we were laughing and the desire for a drink had gone. I didn’t take that drink I was so sure I was going to have; picking up the phone makes such a difference. I like to share with any newcomer, and especially from a top table, the importance of picking up the phone – it could be a matter of life or death. When I started going through AA’s 12 Step Programme of Recovery with my sponsor, the feeling I got was a feeling of freedom and I accepted a Higher Power into my life without whom I wouldn’t be here today. Every day I pray to my Higher Power for strength and courage to see me through that day and not drink.
If I have an off day I pick up the phone and speak to one of the many friends I have in AA. Just recently I wasn’t too good, as the neighbour I told you about who picked me up off the pavement had passed away. She never judged me when I was drinking and was so pleased for me when I stopped. If I knocked on her door when I was upset she would put her loving arms around me (we’ve not got the monopoly on love in AA!) and she was there for me for practical things too. Have you ever tried to zip up your dress from the back on your own? I miss her very much, but I can pick up the phone and I always remember something I once read in the Roundabout, ‘just because you’re having a bad day doesn’t mean you’re having a bad life’.
The effect my alcoholism had on my family was tremendous; however the effect of my recovery on them is tremendous too. My son and daughter had been close before my drinking took off, but that changed as my drinking got worse. Now they don’t worry about me the way they used to when I was drinking. We have a great relationship today, so much better than ever it was.
When I came to AA and went through the Programme I was told I would have a life beyond my wildest dreams and I must admit I doubted that. However this has come to pass and that’s exactly what I have. The peace of mind I have in my life is second to none. My lovely sober life today includes lunch with friends, dances, retreats and conventions and the joy of child-minding my beautiful granddaughter; such a change from when I was drinking. When I think of the blackouts I had and the places I woke up in, there was definitely someone looking after me. The awful way I felt when I came to: full of guilt, shame and remorse doesn’t happen now that I’m sober. Just recently I was lucky enough to attend the Friday night meeting at the Lomond Gathering in Dumbarton. The passion and gratitude of the top table that night was wonderful. I felt uplifted and my gratitude got a huge boost. The speakers shared how their own lives and their families’ were turned around and how they have a quality of life that some people can only dream about – and that is the case for me too.