What a luxury to have time to post! I’m enjoying the space that Christmas brings to think and reflect, and of course, my mind is coming back again and again to how I have got and stayed sober.
Someone who has been following this blog asked for help this morning and as I responded, I found myself writing about what changed for me the final time I put down the drink.
I’ve written about how AA has worked for me previously, but I want to document it again, because its power has, for me, been overwhelming.
When I found the blogging world I rejoiced because all of a sudden, I found people who I could relate to, who drank like I did. I would NEVER have called myself an alcoholic. I was just someone whose drinking had got painful and out of control. I looked around at the women wiring these blog and thought “this is it! there’s a breed of people just like me who aren’t proper alcoholics.”
I confess, whilst finding the blogging world was a godsend on one hand, on the other, it initially turned me off more traditional recovery methods. I saw an undercurrent feeling which defined this kind of sobriety as a (perhaps preferable?) route to living without the drink, a stance of “we don’t fit AA and we’ve found a way to get sober on our own.” This alternative way that wasn’t necessarily anti-AA, but somehow felt like a more Middle Class & intellectual way of getting sober. This approach to getting sober was at first encouraging as I witnessed person after person stopping drinking through their own strength and the help of the blogging community. Writing out and working through my problems as others around me were doing seemed a perfect solution. And yet, when I kept failing to get sober, I saw it somehow as a lack of strength- if these women around me could do it, why couldn’t I?
I remember vividly reading something on Soberistas & their related literature which positioned that community as an AA-alternative, for those who didn’t fit AA or didn’t want to go. Because of my ego and image of myself as an intelligent young woman, I aligned myself more with a community like Soberistas than to AA. And yet it didn’t get me sober. And I suspect, for me, it never would have done.
When I finally dragged myself to an AA meeting through sheer desperation, it felt like Coming Home. I have NEVER in my entire life experienced a sensation like I did that day. I felt an overwhelming sense of relief wash over me as I knew that not only was everything going to be ok, but that I had found my people. People who on the surface came in all shapes, sizes and from all strata of society. But who underneath were just different shades of the same colour that is my essence. From that day onwards, there was a solution for me that actually worked. Almost a year on, ‘the compulsion to drink has been removed’ just as they promise and I have found a great group of friends.
And more than just stopping me from drinking, working through the programme and 12 steps has helped me in ALL aspects of my life. My relationships are improving, my spirituality has grown into an ever-present comfort blanket, the lifetime undercurrent of anxiety I have felt has subsided. Little did I know when I walked into that room that declaring myself an alcoholic would answer a question I’ve had my whole life: ‘why do I feel different?’
I knew from when I was very small that I was a super-sensitive soul, and as I grew into my teenage years, the gaping chasm of nothingness I felt sometimes threatened to topple me. Here, in AA, I had found a group of people who understood these feelings and have found a way to work through them. Therapy hadn’t worked, self help books hadn’t worked, but sitting in a cold room with friendly faces and terrible coffee turned out to be my lifeline.
My sense of a ‘higher power’ is a fluid one. Sometimes it’s a ‘God’ in the more traditional sense, who has a life plan for us. Sometimes it’s a less tangible spirituality that I draw strength from. Whatever form it takes doesn’t matter. Stepping outside myself and believing there’s more to the universe than the strength (or otherwise) of my own will has been transformative.
I hear over and over again people saying they won’t go to AA because of ‘the God stuff.’ I felt the same. And yet here I am, having found great comfort and fortitude in the notion of a higher power
I’m not writing this post to preach or to push AA- one of the traditions of the programme is that its appeal is through “attraction not promotion.’ But I wanted to put pen to paper to articulate the amazing diversion my life has taken since coming in. It has been an overwhelmingly positive experience, and I DID NOT WANT TO GO. I thought it would be the last place that would help me, but it turns out that when I get off my high horse, it’s the place I feel most at home.
Happy Boxing Day to you All