When I arrived at Alcoholics Anonymous was I grateful? Were my feelings those of thankfulness? No. My arrival came out of fear, fear of the next drink. I arrived in the full knowledge that I couldn’t control or regulate my drinking and that worst still. I could not keep sober, however great the neccessity or the wish. That where alcohol was concerned I was strangely insane. I can remember the obsession being so overwhelming that it crowded out every other thought. It was the heartbeat of my mind.

Not only was I powerless over alcohol but I couldn’t wrest any satisfaction from this world what-so-ever. In fact the world and its people also dominated my thoughts. I placed everything under the banner ‘it’s their fault.’ Grateful, No. Thankful, No.

But I did find a group of alcoholics in action who passed on the message of recovery to me. That I need never drink or feel as bad as I did right then ever again, if I were to take the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous with the help of a sponsor. Which involved doing things I didn’t fully understand or believe in.

Beaten and with my trust won I began to do as these new friends were doing. I started to pray for a sober day, read my Big Book, read the Just For Today Card, work with others and take the Steps. My sponsor also suggested that I write a gratitude list, which on first hearing sounded ridiculous. What did I have to be grateful for? He pointed out that I had a home to go to, a roof over my head, food in the cupboards and that I was sober. My first thought was that these things were due to me. That I somehow had a right to them. But with some hesitation I began to write a simple list and tried to add more each day.

Within no time at all my whole outlook to life was changing. I was active in Alcoholics Anonymous, taking actions suggested by my sponsor and taking the Steps. I was becoming more and more grateful for my life and the things in it, even seeing my previous circumstances as a gift and not as some sort of punnishment. I knew absolutely that I had found something truely special in Alcoholics Anonymous. I began to live without fear, the obsession with alcohol was taken from me, I was restored to sanity.

Today, 4 years sober, I still do the same things. I’m active in Alcoholics Anonymous, I work with others, have a sponsor, read AA literature and pray. And I still keep adding to my gratitude list. It’s so long now that I rarely read it from start to finish but I can look at each day and smile. Today I enjoy my life, I’m grateful for things in it and strangely for the things not in it. I see beauty in the world around me and get on well with people, all of which were impossible for someone like me. Looking back I arrived in Alcoholics Anonymous for one reason, to be rid of the obsession with alcohol, and I have found so much more. For that I am truely grateful.

RtR Plymouth, July 2009