Fate or Fortune

It’s mysterious to me how I discovered the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Nobody in my immediate family is in the Fellowship. I was given a Big Book by an Aunty some years ago, she obviously saw the traits of active alcoholism raging in me. The book remained on the window sill gathering dust, full of wisdom and untapped potential.

I did many home detox’s, rattling off drink once the decision had been made that something had to give before my body did.

My family were so tolerant of my alcoholism it enabled me to pursue it further and further. They love me, they begged me not to drink, they told me I had a problem, they hoped it would be the last time I drank. It never was. I felt guilty about this until I became aware I was unwell and the best way to make amends would be to embrace recovery.

A visit to the Doctor yielded some poor advice. I was 3 months off a drink and doing well apparently. I was informed if I attended AA, I could smell alcohol on somebody’s breath and this could trigger a relapse. In retrospect I had been misdirected away from the sanctuary I’d ultimately find.

Lots of people in Fellowship experience being admitted to treatment centres. They are allowed to attend AA meetings during treatment. They’re directed to the rooms of AA after being discharged. My experience wasn’t like this at all.

I’m grateful to have found the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. Maybe it was good fortune, desperation or guidance from a Higher Power that led me to AA. I’m not entirely sure. I wonder how many people are out there coping the best way they can with active alcoholism just like I was?

If you have concerns about your drinking, it’s worth considering attending an AA meeting. I got sober by being sponsored through the 12 Step Program and attending regular meetings. I’m a grateful alcoholic in recovery.

Light the Candle, Feed the Spirit

I believed that my alcoholism is a disease, a state of dis-ease based upon an incurable latent force ready to activate and consume every sense of self worth I have.

I’m beginning to learn that the disease concept in terms of alcoholism is applicable, however I understand it as part of something more fundamental happening; the loss of connections.

After reading Chasing the Scream by Johann Hari I was profoundly affected by what I learned. When I disassociate from love, compassion and humanity I turn to alcohol to fill the void. After four years of abstinence from alcohol I understand if I take a drink it’ll have dire consequences for myself and everybody around me. This is the disease would take over and I’d return to where I was four years ago.

This situation can be seen through another lens. If I drink and succumb to the disease of alcoholism I ultimately disconnect from the essential elements that have enabled me to recover. These are community, empathy, compassion, education, experience, peer support. In embracing isolation I would be creating the environment in which alcoholism thrives.

I believe the founding participants of AA learnt that ‘fellowship’ i.e. belonging to a group of likeminded people in pursuit of long term sobriety is a vital component in achieving recovery from addiction.

I tweeted out the following hashtag this week: #ReachConnectBelong. I have reached out, connected with and belonged to AA and #recoveryposse on Twitter. In doing so I achieved ongoing sobriety despite previous lapses, relapses intrusive thoughts, white knuckling, all highlighting how alcoholism is cunning, baffling and powerful.

I need to maintain the connections I’ve forged. They keep me plugged into a life source. An old timer used to say inhis gruff experienced voice, “meetings are our spiritual injection, it’s where we light the candle and feed the spirit.”

My spirit needs to be lifted frequently. I can drift off into despair, catastrophe and panic in a heartbeat. I rarely escape these conditions with the same haste. Knowing I have a meeting to go to, a phone number to call, means I have options other than listening to the temptation changing to obsession and manifesting as consuming alcohol to feel differently or nothing at all.

The Irish leave a candle lit in the window. It symbolises lost loved ones and provides a beacon for those looking for the warmth of home. AA provided that warm compassion I needed from those with empathic understanding. I’m learning that the warmth is within and we can all contribute to bolster recovery from addiction in our communities.