I Still Remember that First Drink and How it Made Me Feel
I still remember that first drink I had and how it made me feel. It was when I was 14 and on a school trip to Austria, on one sunny afternoon myself, my brother and his friends decided to sneak off from the group we were with and went down to the local village, where we found a pub. My brother and his friends managed to buy some beers and also offered me one. Not wanting to look like a wimp, I downed nearly half of my glass. It tasted disgusting but I remember that I had a fuzzy warm feeling go right through my body. And that wasn’t all: I also felt totally free and comfortable in myself and that I had no worries in the world, it was an amazing feeling. Ever since that day I can look back now and see that I continued to drink, to try and recapture that feeling. But after a few years of my drinking I found that without a drink I would become very angry and uncomfortable until I could get another drink.
Then I started isolating myself and drinking on my own, only going out to sign on or buy more drink. I was becoming more and more uncomfortable in myself and extremely paranoid when I couldn’t get a drink. On one occasion I found myself breaking down in front of my mother, so she took me to the doctors, but I didn’t know what to tell him. All I knew was that life was painful and drink was my way out of that pain. So the outcome of that visit was the doctor giving me an asthma pump and suggesting that I see a counsellor. The next day I spoke to my mum and told her that everything was OK now and that I felt much better, so I didn’t think I needed to see a counsellor. From then on I continued doing it my way for another 9 years and it got increasingly more painful.
All I was doing was drinking and thinking about problems and how people treated me badly. At this stage I became a father and the consequences of my drinking really got bad. Where before I was only hurting myself, now I was hurting my partner and children. So I’d try and leave the drink alone when things got bad, but I would always pick up drinking again because I just couldn’t live on life’s terms at all. It felt like it was me against the world constantly, so I would always turn back to drink. Nearing the end of my drinking I found that I wasn’t able to find that escape anymore with the drink, and I was left in total despair and even suicide came into my mind.
But the thing is I didn’t think there was a way out of where I was, so I would still drink even though I didn’t want to. Finally another doctors visit with my mother, and my partner throwing me out again, I went to AA, not because I thought they could help me, but to get everyone off my back. But when I got there I couldn’t believe that there were other people like me that thought, felt and drank like me. So I continued going to that meeting, and people would share their stories about the illness of alcoholism. It was that which gave me my Step 1. They told me that it wasn’t my drinking that was the problem but that it was my thinking behind the drinking that would make me pick up the drink; and once I started drinking I wouldn’t be able to stop because it would set up a craving in me that normal average drinkers wouldn’t get.
I couldn’t even get away with just leaving drink alone because of the mental twist that comes into the alcoholic's thinking – after a while without drink the thought would come into the alcoholics mind saying it would be OK to have a drink, even though the last time would have been like hell for them and everyone involved. I was also being told that if I was an alcoholic then only a spiritual awakening – a change in thought and attitude – would save me, and that I could get one if I went through the Steps with a sponsor.
I got myself a sponsor who started me off on a daily plan where I had to do various actions through the day to keep sober; things like phoning people, meeting up with other alcoholics, turning up to meetings on time. Also I phoned my sponsor every day to say how im doing. All these things went against the grain for me but Step 1 enabled me to do these things someone else’s way. Im so grateful to have stopped from doing it my way at the beginning, as I would never have the life I have now. Step 1 has been with me for 5 years now, and it keeps me putting the actions in which make my life worth living. Step 1 enabled me to do Step 5 which in turn made me a free man and a step closer to my Higher Power. Step 1 allows me each day to have a choice where before I had no choice at all.
Thank God for AA.
Chris D, Road to Recovery group, Plymouth, Nov 2008