I knew I was different

Gary’s story

From the start I always struggled with life. Even as a child, I knew I was different. I had my fair share of times when I was humiliated, disappointed, terrified or even used for someone else’s gain. Growing up I had family illnesses, death, violence, broken trust and wrong paths. I could not deal with them. My mind was unstable. My emotions played tricks on me and I couldn’t connect myself to life.

I had a group of friends I started drinking with, but they used my sensitivity and self-pity against me. I had a relative that was into the drugs world. At times it was frightening. The drink helped for a time, but I couldn’t save my relative, and it got worse. I felt misunderstood, no meaning in life. I built this character which wasn’t healthy. I tried to be a good relative, find love and build a life, but I always had difficulties. I tried adult education, organisations for drink and drugs. It didn’t work. I lost my friends and became violent towards my family. So I shut myself away. Things became very dark. I was hidden behind a mask. For years I felt numb, with no purpose and no direction. I consumed a load of misery as well as the booze that fuelled it. The demons I’d created were more powerful than any normal person could imagine or understand.

I fell in love again but I almost ruined it. I became horrid verbally and couldn’t be reasoned with. Again I hit rock bottom. I thought: “Why am I here? What do I have to offer anyone? They don’t understand me.” I was all out of ideas. People that did help me were only around for a short time.

I needed something but didn’t know what, so I went to the doctor that said about AA. I was unsure because you have to talk, I thought. I was still ill, so my mum called the helpline and spoke to a guy called Mark. Then I spoke to him. For a change just speaking to him felt comfortable. He understood me. I related to him. In my mind I began to think, this is one other person that knows my thinking and why the booze is destroying my life. So he asked me to go to a meeting, which I did.

I went with a relative. It took a while to find it but we got there. He went off shopping and I stayed. People were so friendly. I went inside. I was greeted with handshakes. I was offered a cuppa and a biscuit but my stomach was still fragile. Everyone looked well. They gave me their phone numbers or asked for mine. I was worried at first but then began to feel safe. For a long time I haven’t, but this was good. I listened to those who came up and spoke to me. People got me, they understood me.

Soon I started the Steps with a sponsor. Not long after and I got stability in my life. I put my all into Step 4 and cleaned my side of the street in Steps 8 and 9, making my amends to those whom I’d hurt. I kept up with my meetings. I have had emotional wobbles but trusted my sponsor, my Higher Power and the program. I began service as I went through the Steps, which gave me a purpose and responsibility. I’m still going through the service structure and trying to be honest, humble and as helpful as I can. I have had knocks emotionally and have come out the other side stronger than ever. I have started voluntary work and I’m doing driving lessons. I’m nine months sober and building my life again thanks to AA.