Education in Sobriety

Education in Sobriety

I left secondary school in 2002. Due to my disruptive and unacceptable behaviour I did not receive any exam results. Throughout the majority of my school life I never participated in any of the work. I was always playing Jack the Lad, trying to be the joker. I feel now that that behaviour was to hide my underlying fears and insecurities.

I never liked to participate in any group activities, unless I was with my mates and we would mess around together. This pattern of behaviour lead to me being suspended from school a number of times, and in the end I just dropped out.

All through my school years I did feel inferior and insecure. So I  developed, by the end, the reputation of the thug. I was already drinking by this stage. People used to give me attention for being a ‘nutter’. I actually enjoyed this attention so continued the behaviour. I used to drink in school and got involved in violence. I must have been 15-16 by this stage.

With no qualifications I was left with a limited amount of job prospects. I was a builder’s labourer and also worked in a number of factories. I think I was most successful as a labourer as my alcoholism was at a reasonable condition at that time. All my wages went on alcohol. When I was working in factories, the jobs would only last, at most, 5 days. This was solely due to severe paranoia and feelings of conviction that everybody was against me and out to get me! I would quit the jobs get the few days pay and use it to get insanely drunk.

Time went by, and I would just sign on the dole and get job seekers allowance. At this stage I was drinking as much as possible. I was in with all the bad people, in full flight from reality and in more trouble then I realised. I was a chav and used to cause havoc around council estates, making people very distressed. Although when I was sober I was the most fearful, inferior, insecure, scared individual you could have met.

My escapades landed me in crown court looking at a prison sentence. I was desperate for a change of life style but didn’t know how. God had plans for me!

I attended my first AA meeting on December 2005. I didn’t fully have step 1 at that time. A few more bouts with king alcoholism and I was defeated at depth, utterly hopeless and willing. I embarked on the 12 step programme with my sponsor following the Big Book. My sobriety date is January 2006.

Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of the steps I was given the opportunity to ‘start my life again.’ I knew I needed to get a job so was left to think it through. I then decided I needed to go back and get my self an education.

To begin with I started working towards qualifications in basic adult literacy and numeracy. I talked with a careers advisor, during our discussion I asked ‘how do people go to university?’ As I always though you needed to have posh parents and be from a privileged background, and I had none of these things. The lady explained that I could do an Access to Higher Education course that would enable me entry to university. My mind was made up at once.

I completed my numeracy and literacy certificates. I had decided I wanted to do Business, so I went to College for an interview with the course tutor and the head of adult education but they told me I needed to have GCSEs. But having had a spiritual awakening as the result of the Steps my new determination, enthusiasm and confidence made the staff there give me a chance.

In 2006 I started College, with a whole new perspective on education. This time I was there to learn. So I had a class of new acquaintances and I had a new found optimism. At first I found some aspects of the course hard going but I would talk to my sponsor and persevere. I met some really nice people on that course who I still see today, also I achieved a full pass at a level sufficient to progress on to higher education.

My whole attitude and outlook on education was changed drastically. I would pay attention to tutors, work hard after classes, seek extra help were it was needed and so on. Going from a complete waste of time at secondary school I was on a different footing, my roots grasped new soil.

Here was a hopeless alcoholic, with a new set of sober friends and achieving well. I felt a huge sense of achievement and well being. The 12 steps really have changed me in a miraculous way, in all areas of my life.

Today I am at university and persevering towards a degree in Business. I have a whole host of new friends. I have a sponsor a home group and life is good. I have other great blessings in my life, for which I feel completely blessed. If I want any chance of maintaining these things, I am in no doubt what so ever that I need to keep walking the Road. Ultimately I must consistently practise Thy Will (not mine) Be Done. God Bless You all.

Jamie, Plymouth

April 2011