Rob’s Story

When I was young my dad drank beer from glasses he kept in the freezer & poured it from the big brown bottles. I thought it looked wonderful & surely better tasting than any soft drink. My disappointment when I found it was bitter tasting was compensated by the realisation that it gave you a pleasant buzz & a dreamy feeling of relaxation. I soon decided that I would like to have more than the glass I was allowed at dinner occasionally to see if I got more of a buzz. One night I stayed over at a friends & thinking this was the perfect time to get drunk as my parents wouldn’t find out I skulled down a bottle of Muscat wine. My plan to escape detection was spoiled when I fell down splitting my head open & was taken to hospital where they pumped my stomach.

Figuring I needed to go further afield for my next experiment I took a bottle of bourbon to Rottnest Island (for those not familiar it is a small holiday destination some 15 miles of the coast of Perth). Planning on making it last a week I tried to drink it all the first night, blacked out & was arrested for disturbing the peace, spent the night in jail & was deported from the island the following day under police escort. I went to children’s court but was let off with a warning.

Subsequent efforts saw me picked up for under age drunken driving & involved in fights. It all sounds too predictable but I really wasn’t that sort of kid. I had been brought up well, given love & attention, excelled at sports, was popular with my peers & did well academically so the anti social behaviour was right out of character. I see such things now as simply typical alcoholic behaviour but it took me 20 years of trying to drink like others before I understood this.

After I left high school with a university matriculation (just) I decided that a few years of seeing the world were in order & promptly entered the hospitality industry. Now there’s a good trade for an apprentice drunk. Under the guise of food & wine appreciation or industry shmoozing I dined out or partied out 7 nights a week, often drinking through the night before coming in to work for a split shift, to sweat it out in the kitchen, before doing it again. Some nights I drove home with a hand over 1 eye to make the road behave while others I just slept in my car down the beach so I could fall into the water to wake up next day.

During this time I also travelled round Australia extensively with a guitar & backpack getting into drugs up in Northern NSW & generally doing the hippy thing. I remember others thinking me odd because even when stoned or tripping on LSD I still drank alcohol. Eventually I gave up mind expanding drugs because they interfered with the effect of the drink.

After my 3 year Hospitality Industry phase I enrolled at U.W.A to do Arts. My plan was to get a Music degree but I spent most of my time chasing Catholic girls & drinking at the Tavern. Toward the end of my first year I joined a Rock & Roll band & dropped out. From a motorcycle accident, a year or so before, I received a $10,000 compensation payout & proceeded to live the life of the idle rich. I earned cash money from my band jobs & made up the slack from my bank account when I felt my lifestyle needed cranking up. I was pretty popular with the others in the band as I would always make sure there was a case of cold ones for band practice. At this stage I didn’t yet NEED the booze I just wanted it there all the time. This ten year period of my life in the music industry could fill a book with anecdotes but it’s really just a gradual decline.

I took a trip after the first 4 years, to India, where the alcohol was expensive & of bad quality & I remember noticing then that I needed my drink of a night or I got very cranky. Others who I drank hard with at home would forego it as it was too expensive to buy quality & they would rather smoke a cheap joint but I needed it.

My last couple of years in the music business got pretty messy. I had become like the drunk in the Big Book “More about Alcoholism” who begins to use a combination of booze & high powered sedatives to get through the day. One occasion in Melbourne, after a fight with my girlfriend, I drank most of a wine cask then got on the tram down to St Kilda for a gig. I feel asleep on the tram & woke up back in Richmond. I took a taxi to the gig & started drinking again when I got there. My memory of performing is vague but I stumbled around playing lots of bum notes & generally let the team down. If we had not been on tour with no replacement handy I would have been fired next day & believe me it is not easy to get fired from a Pub Band.

I had started also to hit the detox centres as I could not stop drinking under my own will any more. Morning drinking was the norm rather than the cute party trick I once thought it. The last phase of my life as an active alcoholic was in some ways the hardest. Controlled drinking. I was fortunate enough to be granted an opportunity to get off the Rock & Roll merry go round when a friend offered me a position in a fledgling electronics company. I had gotten in to a relationship that I wanted to keep & all in all it seemed a good chance to start again. I entered a detox for what I hoped would be the last time, went on a health food diet & moved in with my girlfriend to a lovely house in Fremantle. Well anyone who had tried controlled drinking knows the hell I went through. Suffice to say that 3 years later the girlfriend was gone & gradually, or in fact quite quickly, everything else decent or good about my life followed her out the door.

I entered a period of purgatory which was to last 2 years. A nervous breakdown, several detoxes a suicide attempt & black black depression which accompanied my every waking moment. If I ever get the slightest bit complacent I think of this period & literally shudder. Faced with the choice of a fast death & having to live through it again the choice would be simple. Toward the end of it my body began to fail. Constant vomiting, wetting the bed, fevers, shakes, nightmares all the symptoms of late stage alcoholism. I read an article with a list of symptoms & there were very few to go before wet brain or death. AND YET I STILL KEPT TRYING TO DRINK LIKE OTHER PEOPLE!!!! Clearly I was insane.

There had been some contact with AA during the final year & I had a Big Book & some tapes but until I surrendered unconditionally these were of no help. This surrender came after the suicide attempt was aborted. Realising there was no longer a quick way out I had to face the prospect of continuing to live this way. During the withdrawal of what was to prove my last detox (yet) I simply surrendered my life to God & AA.

Looking back from what is, today, 16 months & 18 days of sobriety it seems puzzling that I ever drank. Once the physical withdrawal was gone I began to get well very quickly & all the AA knowledge I absorbed began to flourish. It is really like a demon was exorcised & I have trouble recalling the person I was at the end. I have not had a desire to drink in this time. Having said that I will emphasise that I have a home group, a sponsor & attend a minimum of 3 meetings a week, 1 ID, 1 Steps & 1 Spiritual Concept. Almost all of my friends are in the fellowship as is my housemate. I have a position of service at 2 groups & always stick around after a meeting to help clean up & chat.

It is my observation that those I admire & try to emulate in AA are invariably in the centre of things & they are the ones who seem to enjoy their lives & carry their serenity with them. As it says on Page 25 of the Big Book. “The great fact is this & nothing less: That we have deep & effective spiritual experiences which have revolutionised our whole attiitude toward ourself, toward our fellows & toward God’s universe.” Now if only I can give up smoking” 🙂

Kerry’s Story

My name is Kerry – I am an alcoholic – sober today through the Grace of God, the 12 Steps and the members of A.A. who encouraged and loved me into sobriety. What an attraction to me you were and still are!! Through you and the love I experienced at my first A.A. meeting, I am free. My life has got better and better, One Day at a Time. It wasn’t always like that.

I started drinking to fit in and have fun at 18. It was like Clark Kent going into a phone box and coming out as Superman! I’d found the elixir of life, was colourful, witty, confident and then I threw up, was so dizzy I felt dreadful. An alkie from the start, but just loved that carefree sense of being at one with my fellows, fitting in and belonging and unafraid. I did it again and again, with ever increasing dire effects, kidding myself that the consequences were worth the fun, popularity, sense of comfort and ease I experienced with John Barleycorn. I had always been so shy, nervous and self-conscious and drink took all that away in the twinkling of an eye. I loved the feeling of power and freedom it gave me – I had found the secret of life.

This disease is progressive, I can vouch for that. I’m a beer drinker but, if I ran out I’ll drink or guzzle anything or anyone’s drink. I’m a deep thinker – complex – working it all out. I drink and I’m in Heaven – slowly but surely I entered Hell – a place of torment, frustration, lonliness and fear, blackouts, remorse and guilt that only another drink would fix. Then more of the same, neglecting my moral obligations, responsibilities and my children. I ended up in compromising situations, which brought more guilt and shame. I drove when I was drunk and had accidents, putting my children in danger.

I went to Court, lied, covered up and lived a double life, fearing I’d be found out. In the end I cared about nothing because I couldn’t care – it hurt too much and the instant relief could not be found in alcohol. I had lost out – was sick and tired of being sick and tired. Afraid of living, afraid of dying, getting older and going nowhere, frustrated, lonely, rejected and isolated and full of self-loathing.

I was ripe for the picking when a doctor suggested A.A. Thank God for that man because I have not picked up a drink since my first meeting 23 years of days ago. Those sober magical moments comprise all facets of my new life (the second chance I took and hung on to) my journey into recovery, with all its seasons, experiences and adjustments and being so grateful for it all. Because here I am today, happy, joyous and free to carry this powerful message, to be of useful service, no more a burden on society or my family.

Through the actions of the 12 Steps I can love and receive love and, no matter what happens, I have learnt to trust life, thank God in all things and leave the outcome to Him who presides over us all. I have exercised faith, taken one step at a time and learnt the lessons I am given in this one long day of school that has taken me into the present here and now-eternity.

I have failed and succeded in sobriety – triumphed and overcome some defects and traversed the trials and tribulations to grow a character. I am a participant in life and through death have been renewed, regenerated and brought closer to the God of my understanding.

I have stayed, kept the fires of sobriety brightly burning so I won’t regress and forget where I came from by listening to those wonderful newcomers who remind me, nor to get cocky or complacent and the old-timers who are my heroes, can stand, serene and balanced, by years of living this way of life.

The bonuses of sobriety are many. I was able to love and look after my dying mother, see my father 8 years in Al-Anon before his passing, be there for my daughter and sister when they reached out for help and found sobriety waiting. I have a friendship with my other daughter, so scared by my alcoholism. What more could I ask for? I have been given so much – for so little I did.

To those who may be confused – Keep Coming Back – in exchange for the bottle we are given the Keys to the Kingdom. I thank God for your lives.

Dermot’s Story

I am an alcoholic and my name is Dermot.

I feel free telling people that I am an alcoholic today if I believe it could help them because I know now that alcoholism is a disease not a moral issue or a result of weak will power. When I take a drink my personality changes and I can’t always guarantee my behaviour. Once I have the first drink I also have very little defence over the insatiable desire to continue drinking.

As a child there was always alcohol in our house and my father would regularly get drunk and come home and world war III would erupt. I used to beg him not to go to the pub and he would swear that he wouldn’t but the cycle kept repeating. My mother used to say that he wasn’t a bad man but was a sick man. I never wanted to be like him when I grew up.

I always felt very awkward and out of place, but alcohol always made me feel good about myself and gave me something that I was good at. I used to boast to my school friends about how much I could drink.

I don’t know how old I was when I first got drunk but I had the first of many blackouts at fourteen. By fifteen I was regularly getting drunk and started smoking marijuana. By the time I was sixteen I was the one hanging out of the window of my friend’s cars vomiting, or lying on the lawn outside some party unconscious. I couldn’t talk to girls sober and by the time I had enough to drink to feel confident enough to talk to them I was drunk and would just embarrass myself. While I always felt that there was something wrong with me, by seventeen I started to wonder if there was something wrong with my drinking.

The next four years were very dark and lonely. At the few parties that I went to I would leave the party and end up wandering about the streets. I could be in a room full of people and just want the floor to swallow me up. I couldn’t stand being around people but at the same time I didn’t want to be by myself.

At 21, I had a rather heavy binge involving 4 litres of cask port and 15 pseudo ephedrine tablets. After I got home I vomited and started to shake and rattle and I realised that this behaviour wasn’t normal and I wanted to do something about it. I enrolled in a course at a non-residential rehab centre but the course I chose was on the effect of another’s drinking on my life. I was focusing on my fathers drinking and not my own. The course required that all participants remain alcohol and drug free – I managed to stay off the grog for 3 weeks but still smoked pot. It was suggested to me by those running the course that I should look at my own usage before I consider anyone else’s. However, by that stage the rattles had left me and I was no longer ready.

Six months later, I was back studying at university and I was failing (yet again). I was at my lowest ebb, the loneliness was insurmountable and I had had enough. I had a moment of clarity when I realised that my drinking and drugging were costing me more than I had ever admitted before and again I wanted to change. I re-enrolled in the rehab course, but this time as a dependant user. I also sought special permission to withdraw from university without failing. While at the rehab course I was introduced to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).

At my first AA meeting I truly identified with all the speakers. I was only 22 and was the youngest in the meeting by 13 years. Yet the feelings I had of being different and alone left me while I was there. There were many things that the others had done that I hadn’t but I still felt that I belonged. I was a little embarrassed by the fact that my story didn’t compare with some of the others’ of drinking first thing in the morning and halfway houses, but the guy who brought me to that meeting explained that it’s not what we’ve done or how much we’ve drunk but what we’ve become that unites us. The simple fact that I wanted to be free of alcohol and identified with the feelings and thoughts of other members meant that I belonged. I have since met many people who share similar aspects of my history.

I have been coming to AA for over 22 years (more than half my life!) and although I am often far from perfect at practicing the program of AA, my life has improved beyond my wildest dreams. In the depths of my darkness I used to dream of riches and power but now I have peace of mind instead. I have a very loving and beautiful family and my relationship with my mother and siblings is better that I could have ever dreamt. Before my father died a few years ago I was able to hug him and tell him that I loved him and we had the best relationship that we could have had. I still get drawn away from the important things in life but going to meetings helps me to remember what is important and puts things back in perspective. I get the most perspective whenever I talk to a newcomer who is still suffering from the disease of alcoholism.

The program of AA involves the practice of the Twelve Steps. These are a program for living that helps the recovering alcoholic to repair his or her life and feel worthwhile and wanted, needed and loved. We talk about a ‘Higher Power’ and ‘God As We Understand Him’. Most people can handle these concepts when they realise that they can choose their own definition of a “god” or “Higher Power”. I have met people in AA from all sorts of religious backgrounds and also many with no religion at all.

Penny’s Story

I am Penny… I am an alcoholic.
My date of sobriety is the 26 July 1999. I am sober today due to the grace of God, the programme and fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.

I started drinking at a very young age. I believe I was born alcoholic, coming from a very large alcoholic family. From very young I was stealing alcohol from my parents’, grandparents’, aunts’ and uncles fridges’ and cupboards. I just loved the taste and it made everything seem right. My background was very dysfunctional and abusive and alcohol was the only way I knew how to cope with life and its problems. I was no longer “shy little Penny’ anymore. It gave me confidence and I thought I was able to conquer the world with it.

When I was 10 years of age, my sister and I had been drinking – we were home by ourselves, as usual, we thought we would have some fun by chopping the chooks’ heads off and watching them fly around the yard headless. Needless to say by the time my mother got home from work we were sobered up, remorseful and in a lot of trouble. Any alcohol that went missing in our household was blamed on the aboriginals who lived at the back of us. My mother told me I would end up as nothing and be nothing, so with what I know now is alcoholic thinking I set out to prove her wrong. At nineteen I got into nursing and then topped the State just to prove her wrong.

Over this time I had joined a church and actually sobered up for a while. I didn’t have any connection with a Higher Power. I married at 20 for the first time, it was soon to turn into a marriage from hell and abuse and I turned back to my only friend, Alcohol, to handle it. That friend was to lead me to kicking out my first husband and moving in with this guy who had a $20,000 wine collection and the best spirits and liquors on the market. I loved it and for the first time I could drink however I liked without having to be sneaky and trying to hide it. Life was one big party and boy! did I party and live the high life. I went on a drinking bender to Sydney from Adelaide for two weeks in 1995 and over that time the guy I had been living with organized a celebrant and marriage, I came back from Sydney still drinking and next thing I know I’m married again! The party was to come crashing down a few months later when, not only would my alcoholism escalate, but I would get addicted to narcotic painkillers and various other drugs following an accident when a semi-trailer ran through the back of my stationary car leaving me half dead and taking from me everything I had ever worked for.

My alcoholism and addiction and pain was to take me to the deepest depths of depression. No longer was alcohol taking the pain away or making me feel better about myself. My second husband never knew me any other way but as an alcoholic and he used this to his advantage especially after the car accident. He would keep me supplied with alcohol, and later on pills. I was just over four and half years in and out of psychiatric hospitals all over Australia, on every type of anti-depressant and psych drugs possible but none helped. I just needed to get sober. I didn’t want to live so tried to kill myself numerous times and ended back in psych hospitals where I couldn’t drink, but with my nursing background I knew exactly what type of drug would give me the effect that I desired. I manipulated this to the max. I was one very sick puppy and it was a vicious merry go round that I didn’t know how to get off.

I came into AA through a rehab. in NSW. I was put there following a car accident where I had gone out at 7.00am absolutely smashed and ended up in hospital. I had numerous admissions to this hospital to fix up my suicide attempts when I was drunk and they sent me straight to this rehab. I believe to this day that this was divine intervention. The last 4 years of my drinking was living hell and I was in such a black hole that I could see no way out.

The rehab. I went to was one amazing awakening. I went there as an absolutely broken down drunk who had bankrupted herself in every way- physically, mentally, spiritually and financially. I had nothing left. As part of the rehab. we had to go to an AA meeting everynight and thank God for that! because by the time I left that rehab. numerous weeks later I knew I was an alcoholic and I had been shown hope from the members in AA. I wanted that hope. I was sick and tired of being so sick all the time. I had developed epilepsy through my drinking and was absolutely sick of the life I had been leading. The department of Community services had been talking of taking my kids from me because I had been keeping my eldest daughter home from school to look after the baby. I had had enough. I just surrendered.

In AA I was told the ‘HOW’ of it. I was told I had to get Honest with myself and others, I had to be Open to this programme, and I had to be Willing to put the Steps into my life if I wanted to change… if I wanted the hope that others had in these meeting rooms. I kept coming back and I did this. I did the suggested things… get a home group, sponsor, do service, etc. I left my marriage at 5 months sober because my husband didn’t like me being sober so I put my sobriety first and came back to my home state of Western Australia. I haven’t looked back and thing have got better.

Today I have Higher Power in my life who I call God. My life has changed beyond anything I ever imagined or dreamed of. By working the Twelve Steps of AA in my life and practising these principles in all my affairs, I have been given a new life. I have peace and serenity today that I never knew before I came into AA. I have remarried in the fellowship and have a wonderful partner who works his own programme as I work mine. I live a contented life with my children, being involved in their schooling and upbringing to the fullest extent. This is what sobriety has given me, that I didn’t have before. I have peace of mind where I am no longer fighting my own head or others.

I have learnt today about grace , about the power to change if we just do the simple things… that is don’t pick up a drink one day at time, put the Steps into my life and things can and will get better. If my Higher Power can do it in my life He can do it in anyone’s. I was taught very early on in sobriety-“SURRENDER TO WIN”. Miracles do happen.

“Thursday’s Child”

Bernard’s Story

I was born on a Thursday and the old rhyme says: “Thursday’s child has far to go.” I’ve certainly gone a long way, geographically physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I know that I have a long journey still ahead of me and I am looking forward to the adventure because, these days, I know that it’s the journey that counts not the destination. So, let’s enjoy the trip.

I was born on 1st June 1939 in the small woolen mill and coal mining town of Batley in West Yorkshire. A few months after I was born World War II broke out but that wasn’t my fault, honest!. My earliest memories are of the war. My dad was away fighting and my mother and I were living with my grandparents so I had two women looking after me. I guess that has made me dependant on women ever since but, what the Hell. We were working class and poor. My mother was a weaver in the woolen mills and my dad was a male nurse, neither very well paid occupations but I was never aware of being poor.

I had loving parents who provided all the necessities even though it was often a struggle for them. The street where I was brought up was exactly like Coronation Street on the longest running series on TV. There was a pub and co-operative store at the bottom, a mom-and-pop general store at the top and a higgledy-piggledy row of terrace houses in between. Everybody on the street knew everybody else back to his or her grandparents so I grew up in a very stable environment with a solid sense of identity. I had lots of friends and we used to go around in a gang. Not like today’s gangs getting involved in crime but a group of raggedy-arsed kids exploring our world and getting up to innocent mischief.

I knew at an early age that I was smarter than most of the kids in the gang, not in any sort of bigheaded way, just as a fact of life. So there was nothing in my background that was dysfunctional, nor was I in any way deprived so I can’t blame my alcoholism on that. I guess it’s just a gift from God. Talking of God, I had a spiritual side to me from an early age. Neither of my parents were churchgoers, though my mother converted to Catholicism a few years before she died; somewhat at my instigation. So it was not influence from my parents but my own volition that led me to church. I used to enjoy going. In fact I went three times on Sunday, to morning service, Sunday school and evensong. My parents and neighbours were convinced that I was going to be an Anglican minister. Boy, were they wrong!

Poverty meant I had to leave school at 16 and start work. I gravitated to my local newspaper at age 18 and have been in journalism and related fields ever since. With work came regular drinking. At 16, and big, for my age, I could pass for 18, the legal age for drinking, I could go into pubs with my older workmates with no questions asked. After all, it was the manly thing to do wasn’t it? And anyway, all the social life was centred round the pub and drinking. It has been that way for centuries ever since my Saxon and Viking ancestors, who settled the valley, had built their beer halls. I liked the effect booze had on me from the start. It did away with those feelings of shyness and inadequacy that had plagued me through childhood and which had become more pronounced with the onset of adolescence. A couple of pints of beer and I was Jack the Lad, walking two-feet off the ground and feeling no pain. Of course the discovery of liquor and lasses at the same time, plus the fact that I was starting to question what the church taught, meant my Sundays were spent somewhat differently.

Apart from a few youthful indiscretions I got into no serious trouble through drinking. I had my first blackout at Christmas when I was 18 through mixing gin with beer. To this day I can’t remember what I did. I was at a party and am told I was paying very eloquent court to an older girl who I relieved of her virginity a few weeks later. I wish I could remember the lines I used. Like most British youths of that day I was called up for two years’ National Service and was posted with the army to Cyprus. There I got into my first trouble through drink, causing a riot one night in the NAAFI (the British equivalent of the PX) and spending the weekend in the Black Watch guardhouse. But God looks after drunks and I got off with a warning and a posting to Malta.

After National Service I returned to local newspapers in Yorkshire and continued drinking. I was frequently drunk, but then, so were most of the guys I associated with, so no one noticed. Due to sheer dumb luck I did not get into any trouble through drinking. National Service had infected me with the travel bug and the year after I was released from the army I got a job with the Ministry of Defence Public Relations and was sent to Malacca in Malaya. That was an exciting three years, travelling all over Southeast Asia, covering the Brunei rebellion and eventually fetching up in Kuching in Sarawak. Again I was with a hard-drinking crowd of soldiers and rubber planters so my capacity for drink went unnoticed and again, through luck, I did not get into any trouble.

While in Kuching I met a charming Chinese girl and we started a relationship. Just before my tour was due to end she told me she was pregnant. In the irresponsible frame of mine, which I then was, all I could think of was getting out of the situation. With my gift of gab and through sheer lying, I managed to leave for England with her carrying my child back in Asia. However, when I got back to England and she told me I had a son, some spark of decency rose through the fumes of alcohol and I decided to face my responsibilities and marry her. That was not easy, as I was in England without a job and she was in Singapore, where she had gone to have the baby and avoid small-town scandal. But I landed a job with the Australian Broadcasting Commission in Adelaide and after a bit of a tussle with the Australian authorities was able to have her join me and we got married. One of the best things I ever did. We’ll have been married 34 years next month.

I was posted by the ABC to New Guinea and spent two years there. It was a wild and woolly place, still is, and drinking was a favourite occupation, so I fitted right in. Although I liked New Guinea I was home sick for the Far East and managed to get a job as Assistant Editor on the Borneo Bulletin in Brunei. I was to spend seven years in Brunei. It was a really interesting job. I got to cover weddings of the royal family, including the Sultan’s brother, was the only passenger in a helicopter piloted by the Sultan and his brother and met and talked to the Queen of England when she visited there. Great on the surface. But, Brunei is a small place with very little to do and the drinking really started to take hold. In a place like that you are thrown on your own resources and, truth to tell, I did not have many. My life was going to Hell and I didn’t know why. I was still drinking but not enjoying it and not getting the buzz from it that I used to. But I had to keep drinking. It was easy then. Brunei, being so rich has no tax so booze was cheap and again, the expatriate crowd there were big drinkers. Even the Attorney General, a Welshman, was practicing alcoholic and used to have to be scraped up off the floor after binges. But the rest of the community covered up for him and he was good at his job so the drinking was tolerated.

I got drunk one day at the port, 17 miles from my home and tried to drive home. I must have had a black out because I woke up in a green tunnel. I had run the car off the road and into the jungle, which had acted as a natural brake. The green tunnel was the headlights shining through the undergrowth. No injuries and little damage to the car. But I could just as well have killed someone. That did not stop me drinking. After all, my despair wasn’t my fault or the drink’s fault was it? No! It was because I was in a God-forsaken place like Brunei where my undoubted talents were not given a chance to shine. If only I could get away things would be better. Well, I did get away. I was working as PR Officer with the Brunei Government at the time. I was not sacked but my contract was not renewed and I decided it was time to return to UK. There I was with no job, and a wife and two kids. But I still managed to find the money for booze.

After a few months I got a very good job with the BBC World Service. Many journalists would give their left testicle for a job like that. But was I grateful? Not me. Again my genius was not being recognised but fortunately Bush House, the World Service HQ had a bar downstairs and if I was on night shift, which was frequent, we knew a pub that stayed open all night to cater for the butchers at Smithfield Meat Market. I was desperately unhappy but did not know why. I thought it was homesickness for the Far East, which was partly true. After all it couldn’t be me or the booze could it?

After two years in England I got a job with Radio Television Hong Kong. Again a job a lot of people would kill for. But again, I was not grateful. Blamed the job, night shifts, my wife, anything for my unhappiness, and was sneaking small bottles of Scotch in my pocket to get me through a night shift. Not happy so change jobs. I transferred to the Hong Kong Government Information Service and was posted to Police Public Relations as editor of OffBeat, the force newspaper. A great job again, but one I did not appreciate at the time. One good thing about it was that it enabled me to tour the police units around Hong Kong and visit the officers’ messes where booze was cheap. Around this time, despite the boozing, I took up jogging and joined the Adventist Hospital Marathon Clinic that met every Sunday morning. The idea was to prevent heart disease. Eight months later I was ready to run my first Marathon – 26.2 miles. The night before I was nervous and thought a beer would settle my nerves. A few six packs later I woke up with a hangover. I ran that first Marathon in 4 hours and 10 seconds and let me tell you, running 26 miles sure as Hell cures a hangover. Exercise has been a big part of my recovery programme ever since.

After the Marathon I no longer had the discipline of a training programme and went on what was to be my last bender. At a Chinese New Year party Police PR gave for local journalists I had my last blackout. I woke up in bed at home with no idea when or how I had left the party and gotten home. For some reason I decided this was enough and I had to stop drinking. Don’t know why as I was in no particular trouble. Two days later I was out training with the Marathon Clinic and found myself running with Dr. John. We all knew Dr. John was in AA because he made no secret of it. As we were jogging along I said: “John I want to stop drinking.” He asked me if I meant it and I said “yes”. He invited me to an AA meeting the next day. I went but I can’t remember much about it even though I hadn’t had a drink for 72 hours. I decided to sit and listen and certainly wasn’t going to say I was an alcoholic just to be part of the group. The next morning, and this is how I KNOW God has a sense of humour, I was sitting on the toilet stark naked about 6 a.m. when the thought struck me like a bright light in my head: “You are an alcoholic!!!” Suddenly everything seemed to fall into place. I just knew, not in my head, but deep in my heart, that this was the answer. Since then I have never had the compulsion to drink. That was over 19 years ago.

My life began to improve in ways I would never have thought possible. I met a former colleague from Radio Hong Kong a few months later. She said: “Bernard, you’ve changed.” I said I had lost weight, which I had. She said: “No, your whole persona has changed.” Hell I did not know I had a persona. Of course everything did not get better straight away. I was, and still am, an addictive personality. I became addicted to exercise, which was no bad thing. I also became addicted to sex. For years I had thought (still do to tell the truth) that I was not attractive to women. They seemed attracted to my new persona, especially many of the many lonely and lovely Filipina girls working in Hong Kong. I went on a sex binge, juggling a marriage and as many as four girlfriends at one time. That can be a bit wearing, on the body and the nerves. It did not do my marriage a lot of good when my wife found out about one affair. But fortunately it survived. I realise now that it was all caused by my low self-esteem. I thought I could prove myself attractive by sleeping with many different women. But it does not work that way. One woman is too much, a thousand not enough. I am still very attracted to women and, at 61, I still get offers, not all of which I turn down. But I still suffer from low self-esteem, especially when it comes to women. Go figure!.

After 20 years with the Hong Kong Government I reached 60, the retirement age. I decided to leave Hong Kong and have set up a PR, publishing and marketing business in Kuching my wife’s home town in Sarawak. My two sons aged 34 and 27 are partners with me in the business. It is a great source of pride to me that people often remark that my sons and I are not like father and sons but more like brothers. We are a very close family. I suppose to most people going off to the wilds of Borneo and starting a new life and a new business at age 60 is a bit daring and something of a risky adventure. To me, it seems quite normal, thanks to the confidence that AA has given me. Hell, we are even on the point of starting a whole new company in the field of financial information and are quite excited about it.

Coming to Kuching meant being a loner, after having daily meetings on my doorstep for 19 years. People have remarked that they do not think they could go to a country where there are no meetings. But, without going into boring detail, there were several pointers that made me think Harold wanted me to come here. (You know Harold! “Our Father which art in Heaven, Harold be thy name.”) I may be being grandiose but I really believe that I was meant to be here to help set up AA and give something back. It’s been a slow process. Besides setting up the business I have given talks on AA to the local specialist medical centre, the local university, Rotary, Toastmasters and have appeared as guest on an hour-long radio programme hosted by a local doctor. So far not one local drunk have I met. But, two Americans in the programme have been posted here to help set up a huge silicon wafer factory. So now we have meetings. But I won’t be satisfied till we have some locals coming along to meetings. But, hey, it’s not about my satisfaction; it’s about Harold’s plans. Funnily enough the speech I gave to the local university, which GSO New York posted on the Net, and a piece I wrote for GSO Australia/Pacific have given me more contacts than my speeches locally and I am in e-mail correspondence with people all over the world.

So, here I am, an English Buddhist married to a Chinese Roman Catholic (we AAs believe in keeping it simple) living in the wilds of Borneo trying to get AA started along with two businesses. But I would not have it any other way. When I came into the Programme someone told me: “Bernard hang on to your arse because it’s going to be a Hell of a trip.” Well, he was right. I’m still hanging on, my arse hasn’t fallen off and by God I’m enjoying the ride.

Tony’s Story

So! You’ve been surfing the net and landed on an AA website, and trawled through some alkies’ stories.
What are you hoping to find? I don’t know – but when I landed here around midnight in mid 2001, I was desperately looking for a way out of a dirty great black hole; a way out of the guilt, the chaos, the fear, the insanity, the crushing loneliness, the confusion, and the isolation that my life had become. I was drunk and I was scared. And I was angry – mostly with myself, but blaming the world. I had only been back on the grog for three months, after being sober just short of 18 years. I first got to AA and sober in 1983. I stopped going to AA regularly about 1988, and stopped altogether in 1990. I started slipping into a deep depression around 1998. I picked up the drink again in February 2001, and couldn’t put it down until Easter 2002. It’s now July 2002, and I’m sleeping peacefully again as I rebuild my life, and reconnect with the world around me. And it’s OK.

G’day! I’m Tony. I’m an alcoholic! I’m so bloody relieved I know that today, and accept that today. It took me the first 32 years of my life to learn that, and the next 17 ½ years to accept it. Now that I know it, the first 49½ years of my life make sense to me; and now that I accept it, I know how to make the remaining years of my life joyful and peaceful; free of guilt and fear and despair.

For years, I beat myself up, believing that my self-destructive behaviours were the result of my moral failure and a lack of my personal willpower. They are not.

Alcoholism is a disease. A simple little dysfunction of the chemical balance in my body means that my adrenal glands, my liver and my pituitary gland do not allow my body to completely switch off my danger alert signals. So my body is constantly telling my brain that some sort of danger is lurking around the corner, and I used alcohol to cope with that constant fear of impending doom, of not belonging and not feeling comfortable anywhere. In the beginning, alcohol helped me switch off that sense of uneasiness and isolation. By the end, it just kept winding up the coil of my fear, anxiousness and bewilderment.

Alcoholism is a disease. And it can be treated – simply. It is really simple to become an active alcoholic and really simple to become a recovering alcoholic. But the journey between those two points is like trying to tame a stampeding kangaroo on roller-blades at a mad-hatter’s tea party – sometimes it’s funny, mostly it’s sad, often it’s tragic, and always it’s bewildering. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do!

I picked up my first drink when I was 14, and had my last drink at 49 ½. Between those years my life was a litany of peaks and troughs, with very few peaceful calm moments. The more orderly and “normal” my life became, the more fearful I became that I didn’t deserve it and that I would be exposed as a fraud. The more this anxiousness grew, the more I would try to close it down, until I squashed myself into a ball of apathy and deadness. I have heard apathy described as frozen anger. That’s true for me. The only way I knew how to shake myself out of this dead apathy was to create some drama or chaos of self-destruction, that would send me crashing over the cliff and down into a pit of despair and depression. At least down there in the pit I was feeling something! I was constantly driven by a fear of failure and a fear of success. I lived in this relentless cycle of climbing up what I experienced as the cliff face of life, then getting increasingly overwhelmed by the view, and throwing myself off the cliff again, because I did not know how to live and sustain a healthy happy life. I did not know why I was constantly anxious and fearful and uneasy. Even when life was going well and every shred of evidence around me was telling me that I should be OK, all I would hear in my head were the old tapes of my worthlessness and all I felt was the fear of impending doom and disaster.

I have learned that it isn’t one damn thing after another that sends me into loops of alcoholic insanity, but the same damn thing over and over again. And that same damn thing over and over again is that I feel I am not good enough, I don’t belong and I am worthless. So I kept trying to present to the world an image that I’m OK and I’m in control, as I tried to live up to what I thought everyone else expected of me, hoping that somewhere along the way I would get to understand what the hell was going on. I could never accept myself, because I always felt uneasy and isolated, and had to cover up what I was feeling. I have lived most of my life on adrenalin and tension. And where did that get me?

A 26 year marriage in tatters, my wife in a psychiatric clinic, my sons keeping their distance, a successful business on the brink of bankruptcy, and me feeling sick and sorry for myself, surfing the net in the early hours of the morning looking for friendship and help in crap chatrooms, bulletin boards, porn sites, and other wasted spaces. Crap in, crap out, is true not just for computers, but for me as well.

Fortunately for me, my desperate net surfing finally landed me on this AA site and I reached out for help.

I’m convinced that life is basically a simple thing, and I have to go to great lengths to stuff it up. And to my credit, I have been prepared to go to those lengths and I did successfully stuff up my life. But now I’m prepared to go to the same lengths to create peace and simplicity and to find me.

And that’s what I found through AA – I belonged; my life made sense; I can see a way forward with hope. I found myself, by opening up to, and becoming mates with, a bunch of people from all walks of life, who have been where I’ve been and come out the other side. They don’t judge me, they don’t think I’m a nutter; they don’t think I’m worthless and destructive. And if I’m prepared to openly ask for help and guidance, they help me help myself.

I’m an alcoholic. Alcoholism is a disease. And it can be treated – simply. It starts with my desire to stop drinking, today – not for the rest of my life. Just for today and see what happens.

If I want to drink, that’s my business – and without any help from anyone, I can simply step back into the war dance with the cliff that was the first 49½ years of my life, by picking up a drink. The unpredictability, fear and guilt are waiting for me if I choose it.

If I don’t want to drink, that’s my business as well – but I need help from a bunch of mates in AA who make it their business to help me get myself sober and create a wonderful life for myself. A life that is not based on fear and anger and hopelessness and powerlessness, but a life based on finding and fulfilling my potential, with a sense of communion and community with other people, one day at a time. It works. At least it has for me – twice. But I didn’t get it from the Internet. I had to get off the net, ring AA, and get back in contact with people, face to face. That’s my choice.

Gordy’s Story

G’day All, Gordon here, alcoholic to the ‘enth degree….commonly known as “11step Gordon” in these parts. 🙂  I thought I’d share a little of my recovery due to this amazing fellowship, guided by my Loving Higher Power whom I call God, and you wonderful people. I believe I have been born an alcoholic from the very first day I breathed air on this planet…….I had all the potential from day one……..As a kid I struggled with an immense overwhelming fear, had no communication skills, couldn’t measure up to my ideals, always felt inadequate amongst my peers and set limits on myself. There are many more things I haven’t mentioned but I guess you get the gist of what I’m getting at….introverted with a burgeoning, inferior complex which described me to a tee, in a nutshell.

When booze came into my life I thought it was the miracle potion that was going to transform me….the magic potion as to speak. 🙂 I pick up my first un-chaperoned drink in 1962 at the age of 14years and 9 months to be exact…..I was on a ship called the “SS IRON MONARCH”, a steel and iron ore vessel trading out of Australia. I had joined the ship some two weeks beforehand as a “wet behind the ears” deck boy and we had just arrived at the first Port ( Newcastle ) outside of my home (Port Adelaide) and I went ashore with the guys I crewed with. I stood in the front bar at such a young age with these fellas and before long I was in my first “black out” and hadn’t a clue where in the hell I was. That night was lost forever in my mind, other than I woke up in the back of a car with two guys……….one was driving, the other was in the back seat with me going through my pockets. I remember I took offence to that and the next minute the guy was laying into me. I had no chance but I do recall vomitting over him…….this aggravated the situation even more so he then opened the door while the car was travelling down the road and I was pushed out resulting in some very nasty cuts and bruises.

You’d think after that episode that I would never touch another drop of alcohol but sadly it was just the beginning. This was the initiation of my boozing career which was to continue for the next ensuing 15 years. I stayed at sea for 12 years and, as most people know that worked in that vocation, alcoholics are plentiful and, in my opinion, I believe the statistics are extremely high……I hazard to take a guess but, lets say, about 85 to 90%…..give or take a few. 🙂

Anyway, I drank on and everything got worse…..I was married in 1966 and put my wife through absolute hell…..11 long years of it. Along came the hospitals, violence, police, gaols, numerous lockups, embarrassment………you name it, I did it…………all due to the demon booze. I just didn’t know any different, all I knew was alcohol made me feel better, if only for a little while………the craving was destroying me………little by little…bit by bit. If you said I was an alcoholic in those days I would have refuted you with utter fury……it was perfectly natural for a man to go for *a few beers* ( my way of thinking at the time ). Take note….just a few beers I said. 🙂 Who was I fooling, I never could have a few beers, what a laugh………..everytime I drank, it was for pure oblivion, a wipe out. I was like a plane spiralling out of control, downward at a rate of knots ready to slam into the ground…..thats the way I can best describe it. So damned hooked by the disease of alcoholism…no way out of it…….full of denial heading for the big bang, and I had no way of knowing it. My visions of an alcoholic back then was the guy who camped out ( in back alleys, riverbanks or anywhere he crashed ), drank cheap plonk or metho and wore his blankets on his back……not me, definately *not me!!!* I had a wife, four kids, a house I could crawl back in where I could suffer it out and I didn’t drink metho….further more, I wasn’t a street derelict….so not possible for me to be an alkie. How sadly mis-informed I was…..my wife was so stupid, she kept the door opened for me………..I could go back anytime I wanted and get myself right. But eventually it all had to come to an end……my alcoholism caught up with me and I came to a full stop……..thoroughly whipped and beaten.

Thinking back now I can trace it to late 1976……….I was locked up in the local Port Adelaide cells, my second residence.  🙂 ……and I remember one night when I was laying there, before I opened my eyes I knew where I was. I could hear the “Big Semi’s” wheelin’ round the famous “Black Diamond”corner……also the urinals running and my drunken buddies running amuck within. I said as I said so often, to myself….”What in the hell am I stuck in this rotten, filthy place again for”…….this was happening with so much frequency ……I had had enough, but how could I break the cycle? Well, this is where I think my “Higher Power” came to the fore…….looking back in His wisdom, I can see He set up a meeting for me with a friend from the past. This is how it happened…….

I called in at a detox center to pick up a mate and when I rang the door bell this guy answered……I peered at him through a drunken haze and couldn’t believe my eyes……..an old mate, was standing there, clean shaven, tidy and with neat clothes on. The last time I laid eyes on him he was living under two sheets of corrugated iron…..totally derelict and drinking metho and whatever. I said….”Hell, whats happened to you?”…..he remarked, “I have stopped drinking and going to AA”……plus he was detoxing to begin his new life. This didn’t mean that much to me at the time but through the state of mind I was in I knew he looked good…..I’d have to be thick not to see that. After that encounter, I drank on for the next few months til Easter 1977……….and little did I know this was to be the drink that would get me into AA….as I see it now, * my last drink.*

It started with one helluva weekend and wiped out something bad…… I had been fighting again which was the norm for me……. when I was sober I wouldn’t say boo to a goose but when I took a drink I was bad news……… it didn’t matter who it was with, and usually my family was always the first to bear the brunt of my drunken tantrums. Anyway, trying to cut a very long story short…..I laid up in bed for a few days and slowly I came good. I said to my wife that I might go to an AA meeting that my buddy from the past had told me about……but I said I’d go with him to see what it does for him…not what it could do for me…. my pride stopped me saying that. So once I had made that statement my wife got in touch with this guy and immediately he came down. He asked, “Do you want to go to a meeting tonight?”……… this was on a monday evening and I said, “No, not now but I’ll go to the one on Sunday, the one at the detox center where you go.” Well, for the first time in my life,….. I had made an important statement……. I couldn’t back down from it but it was a few days hence, anything could happen and plus it made me feel good. 🙂 Of course I was procrastinating, I’m the worlds best at that. But guess what?… as we know, time marches on…….Sunday night duly arrived. 🙂 ………made a statement I did, a big one at that…..and being a so called big man, I had to front up. 🙂

When I entered AA I had 13 warrants pending for my arrest, two outstanding bankruptcies running concurrent and heaps of people after my blood. I thought, lets see what AA could do in that respect. I arrived at my first AA meeting shaking like a leaf, cold feet and ready to run at the slightest bit of pressure. I wasn’t sure what to expect, maybe they drink in moderation I thought, I didn’t know. Anyway, I walked through those *proverbial doors* and was greeted as I have never been greeted before…… at least these people weren’t sucking up to me, they were’nt after a buck….. they were genuinely asking after my welfare. I could see these people had something going for them…… a lady by the handle “Just Judy”….came up and made a big fuss of me. She was a big blonde haired woman with a voice you could hear two blocks away…… and that was when she was only whispering.*s* Her husband was a little Scotch guy called Joey Green….. with a broad accent matching Judy in everyway, especially volume. I can mention their names now as both are long passed on in sobriety….. they left great examples for me to follow.

I always remember Jude saying, “Can you pick me up for a meeting tomorrow night?” In the years to come, I knew why she said that, she was just trying to get me to another meeting…. not to get her to a meeting. And no way was I to realize at the time that I’d be picking her up for meeting for next 18 and a half years…… unbelievable. 🙂 Boy, how I wish that lady was still around today…. such a beautiful person with more honesty than any other AA member I have known…. so sincere and didn’t bat an eyelid telling her booze testimony……. pure 5th step stuff straight from the heart…. and what’s more….. up there on the floor. She struck me with her God given humility. Yep!!!!…. what a lady…. special qualities for sure. 🙂

How can I beat that?…… look at me, I fall far short of that……. but she didn’t… she was really something. That was the beginning for me…….. up unto this day I haven’t needed a drink, one day at a time. You guys have lovingly paved the way for me. You have given me everything I need…… love, caring, sharing, your time…….. My loving God as I understand Him…. so much, what do I need? …….. nothing, absolutely nothing. It took me four years to emerge from the bankruptcies…… I worked things out with the law in regards to my indiscretions ( 8 debt warrants and 5 criminal warrants). The oldtimers said front up and make amends….this I did and, one day at a time, I waded through….. even with it being so overcoming…. I got through. 🙂

Just being with you does it for me, the meetings…..the fellowship as a whole…….the amazing power of it all overwhelms me. I can’t figure it out, and I don’t want to…..but I know I love it with the greatest passion any mortal could ever muster. This Fellowship has given me life….. lifted me out of the gutter, faced me in a positive direction and said, your choice buddy….. go for it. Today, all I have to do is *don’t pick up*… go to meetings regularly and pass the message on whenever the opportunity surfaces. This doesn’t mean that I have to be a “Billy Graham” preaching………but simply, whenever a situation arises I am responsible. I find that not difficult at all …..easy in fact….. been doing it for nigh on 23 years, thank God……… I am so grateful.

Other amazing things came along from that day onwards when I walked in. One instance was I had a very profound Spiritual Awakening in 1981, at my dying father in laws bedside …… a touch from God is all I can put it down to. I can’t explain it to this day but I know it wasn’t imagination …. and thus began my assurance that God is there for all who ask out for Him. 🙂  In the past I always believed I was like a high profile Chess board piece, a king, a knight or maybe a rook …….. but I was to be disappointed …….. all I was was a lowly pawn… today I’m happy with that, a link man if you may think ……. a simple messenger within the confines of this wonderful program.  🙂  At last, the puzzle of my life is solved, I don’t need to run around this planet wondering why I am here…….. I know now and more importantly I know why. Passing it on……that’s it, that’ll do me, I can cope with that.

In conclusion, it all boils down to acceptance……”Serenity is proportional to Acceptance”……. I can grasp that with gratitude…and know that it leads to that ever elusive, inner peace…something I have searched for from birth. So there my dear friends………..you have saved my life and for that I will be eternally grateful. In closing I thank each and everyone of you….you saved this once wretched soul and I salute you.

PS…….before I finish, the 11 step is the key to my ongoing success in th beautiful program…..whenever I have trouble anywhere in the steps all I need to do is fall back on the 11 step and I find the answers.

Lots of love from OZ 11 step Gordon
“The 11th step is the key to living your life spiritually.”
Dos..11th of April 1977

A Traveller’s Tale

I was born in England and as a kid I always felt out of step with the world. I believe that I was born with the pre-disposition to be an alcoholic; it was just waiting for the right set of circumstances to get me going. I don’t remember getting into trouble with alcohol in my teens, although I have been told I drank more than the other girls (I drank like the boys). When I was 20 I went to work in Germany, for the American Army, and I think I crossed the line to alcoholic drinking in that first week. There was a lot of partying, music – this was the mid ’60’s. We were in a wine growing area and every few weeks there were dozens of good reasons to binge drink. The Fasching season arrived and the whole population seemed to stay drunk for the last two weeks, going to work in fancy dress from the night before, drinking gallons of wine & beer and anything else as well. Travelling round the country and getting stuck into Oktoberfest with a gusto! Oh boy – I knew that a lot of the stuff we were doing was dangerous but, hell, it was fun!

The worst thing that could happen to a girl back then was to get pregnant, or so it seemed when I went home to my parents that Christmas and told them I was 3 months gone and the father of my child was a student who had returned to his home, behind the Iron Curtain. After much anguish, tears, shame, hiding in another town, my daughter was born and I felt I had no choice but to give her up for adoption.

After a while I moved to London and tried to live a normal life but I guess I had even more reasons to feel out of step now. Keeping secrets!! Three years later I met a guy from my home town and we decided to get married and see the world. We started our life together in East Africa. My alcoholic drinking resurfaced. Every time I drank I always drank too much. We both felt on the outer, didn’t quite know how to fit in. We loved the country and going on safari almost every weekend with our VW beetle and a tiny tent. Our first son was born 2.5 yrs later. Then we moved to Bahrain in the Middle East. Life was quite different. Terribly hot and humid, coping with a 2 yr old, feeling totally inadequate and the liquor stores sold this wonderful Australian wine in 4 litre casks. Yess!! A trip out to the supermarket at 9am, in 115 deg F heat, 95% humidity, 2yr old in tow, certainly a just reward was a squirt or 3 out of that delicious cask. It was no surprise that I was quite drunk by lunchtime but everything closed down for 3 hrs and everyone would have a sleep after lunch. Sometimes I could barely wake up.

A move to the mainland, to the United Arab Emirates saw a few changes. I tried not to drink in the mornings there. We had another baby 7 months after arriving there. Our second son was born. Each time I had been pregnant I had not been able to drink or smoke. It was like going to a health farm for me. I often thought it would be great to be able to isolate the chemical which caused this radical change in me when I was pregnant… I thought if I was ever to stop drinking I would have to have an injection of this substance!!

As time went by our marriage was drifting onto the rocks and neither of us would face up to it. I was using alcohol as an anaesthetic and it worked very well. It was a pity that it also got me drunk and incapable in public places!! He would plead with me not to drink so much. I didn’t understand it then but now I know I had long since lost the choice. I simply HAD TO DRINK. I couldn’t see any other way of getting through social or domestic situations.

When the work finished in the Middle East I badly wanted to settle down somewhere (not England – too cold, too wet) so we headed for Australia. I absolutely loved it here right away – he hated it. Eventually he went back overseas to work and I stayed home with my two little boys and nested and drank and drank and drank. I drank until I dropped every night. I’d wake up, often on the floor, slug down 2 or 3 more glasses and fall into bed. All I could think about was this drink and the next one. I never thought about the morning and how I would inevitably feel. YUK! I had a few friends who liked to drink the way I did and we would get together in each other’s houses and have “a good time” so we thought. I didn’t go out to drink very often. Life was a kind of hell and very scary. I was using alcohol as an anaesthetic, again to kill the pain of being me. I knew I was losing my mind, killing brain cells, short term memory shot to bits. I was also losing control of my body and this was terrifying.

I was introduced to Alcoholics Anonymous by a friend who drip-fed me the information over a two year period that it was possible to be a rotten drunk, go to AA, stop drinking and learn to live a completely different, good life – and be happy about it! He never once told me to go to AA. He never once said “don’t you think you drink too much?” Never. He just told me his story and waited. Eventually I had had enough and he organised for me to be taken to my first meeting and, most amazingly, I was 3 days sober (dry) at the time. This was in mid July 1986 and I have not found it necessary to pick up a drink since and that is incredible. I have choices today and I am very grateful. I love AA and the people in it. I have a relationship with my Higher Power today and that is wonderful. I try to take the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions off the wall and put them into my life on a daily basis and to live my life one day at a time.

At 10 yrs sober I was able to start the search for my long lost daughter. I found her after an 11 month search. We had our first meeting, our reunion, after 2.5 years of writing to each other by snail mail, fax and then e-mail and ICQ. She and her new husband live on the exact opposite side of the world but I know, if I stay sober and do the best I can, one day at a time, everything will fall into place. At the time of writing this my newly pregnant daughter and her husband have just spent a three week holiday with me… the first time they have visited Australia… met her brothers, uncle and grandparents. It was amazing and I am so grateful to Alcoholics Anonymous. With the wonderful support of the Fellowship, the 12 Step Program and a Higher Power of my own understanding, I am starting to live the life I have always wanted.

Thanks.

Ps. It is now 2013, my granddaughter is 11yrs old. We have met as a family four times now. My sobriety is continuous and my life continues to improve, thanks to A.A.