When I was drinking, I was convinced that I was harming no one except myself; I had no idea of the devastation and trauma I was causing to the people closest to me. My selfish behaviour continued for a long time while I drank to change the way I felt about life, the world and the people around me. Alcohol made life almost bearable and despite saying sorry over and over, I was never sorry enough to try and stop drinking… Until the day I reached my rock bottom and experienced an inner collapse and the knowledge that I could no longer carry on either with or without alcohol. That was the point my life and the lives of all those around me started to change.
I am so grateful that I turned up at the Plymouth Road to Recovery group which has been my Home Group for more than 12 years, where I heard a clear message of Recovery; I was told I needed a Sponsor who would guide me through the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and that if I was willing to follow the guidance of this Sponsor, I could recover and live a happy, sober life.
It was with some trepidation that I read through the 12 Steps; Steps 4 and 9 seemed to be particularly scary but my Sponsor reassured me that I would work through each Step in turn and after each one, I would be ready for the next.
My Step 1 was strong, as it still is, and this gave me the willingness to throw myself into AA and start doing some simple daily suggestions, attending regular meetings and doing as much Service in my Home Group as possible. I was meeting other alcoholics for coffee and trying to be of help to people in my every-day life. My Sponsor could see I meant business and started taking me through the 12 Steps… Step 3 was incredible and has stood me in good stead ever since, Steps 4 and 5 were not as scary as I imagined and enabled me to recognise my defaults of character and put the wreckage of the past behind me. But it also highlighted the fact that I had perhaps not been such an agreeable and honest person as I had previously thought.
I completed my Step 8 by putting myself in the shoes of all the people I had harmed and imagined how I would feel if the same things had been done to me. I found this undertaking particularly painful but I completed it honestly and thoroughly and by doing this, I discovered the willingness to put right the wrongs I had done; I started out with my parents and close family and friends apologising sincerely for my behaviour, never blaming them and asking for their forgiveness and if there was anything I could do for them to start making amends; the majority of them responded with ‘just keep doing what you are doing’. My amends to debtors was approached differently… I contacted them and made an offer of repayment which I kept to until my debts were cleared. My amends to my children take a different form as they were affected more deeply by my drinking and I can never fully put right what I have done but I can stay sober, be a reliable mum and be there for them unconditionally.
My recovery from alcoholism has been miraculous and has changed my life and the lives of all those around me; for this I am eternally grateful to Alcoholics Anonymous for giving me a second chance at life. I can live a happy, sober existence with a peace of mind I never dreamed possible and this is available to anyone who truly wants it.
Ali H, Plymouth Road to Recovery