Living the Dream
Before I came to AA, I was living my nightmares. Towards the end of my drinking, this was a typical day for me: I would wake up in the morning terrified of the day ahead, paranoid as hell and tortured by extreme anxiety. I worried about the future, the present and the past – with a complete inability to live in the day or on life’s terms. I was also frustrated because I could no longer do the things I once enjoyed. I have always been passionate about music, and throughout most of my drinking career, I was involved at some level, but it always came to a horrible end due to my diabolical behaviour. Towards the end of my drinking (and quite often in the early years) less and less people wanted anything to do with me. I can easily see why now, but at the time it just added to my resentments.
I was extremely jealous of the people I saw around me who were getting on with their music; doing gigs, playing DJ sets and so on. For the last 2 or 3 years of my drinking, I just found it impossible. During that time, there were a few occasions when I was given a chance to play music again, but I would disappoint the poor unfortunate who had put their trust in me, each and every time. So I just withdrew further and further into myself. I would drink alone, play my music loud and upset my neighbours (that’s putting it politely)
When I got to AA, got a sponsor and started working the Programme of recovery, I just wanted the madness in my head to go away. In the early days, I was way too cynical to believe the AA members who would talk about living a life beyond their wildest dreams. The whole idea of it seemed corny, or just too unfeasible. But nevertheless, I was beginning to enjoy being sober and having a laugh with my friends without drinking alcohol. That in itself was way beyond my wildest dreams.
Before coming to AA and getting a sponsor, I found social situations impossible, with or without alcohol. If I went out and I didn’t drink, I’d resent the people who could drink safely and hated myself for not being able to do so. Without alcohol, I couldn’t relax, talk to people or have a good time. More often than not, I’d just think, “What’s the point of being sober? This is boring!” So I’d take a drink, have several more and wake up the next morning with no memory of where I went, what I said or how I got home. So in those early days of AA, just to be able to relax and get on with people was enough – it was way beyond anything I could have imagined before.
As I began to enjoy a sober life, other things started to slowly fall into place. Within a year I was playing DJ sets again, and unlike before, people would actually ask me to come back and play again. I was a little over 2 years sober when I started contributing music features to a newspaper, and shortly after that, to a magazine. I have been writing for the same magazine now for over 4 years, during which I have interviewed people I’ve been into for years. I have also played in a band with a musician that I was previously a fan of.
As a member of my Home Group often says: I’m not saying: “Look at me, aren’t I great!” I came to AA with nothing. Nobody in their right minds would have trusted me to write even a shopping list. Every time anything good happens, I know I owe it ALL to AA. There have been plenty of opportunities to mess it all up, with or without an alcoholic drink. I can still be a greedy and egotistic person who wants his way, but thanks to Step 10s and constantly working with newcomers, I have been able to handle situations that used to baffle me.
Without writing a list of all the great blessings that have come my way (and there have been many), I’ll just end it by saying that recovery in AA has been far better than I ever imagined. I don’t have lots of money or any fame (which I thought “living the dream” was all about), but I have been able to do the things that give me great pleasure, without needing a drink. The greatest blessing is the peace of mind I have most of the time. The very idea of staying sober used to scare the hell out of me. Living life without alcohol seemed like the biggest nightmare, so the fact that I can now enjoy a sober life with peace of mind is way beyond my wildest dreams. But in order to keep this, I need to remain sponsored, trust in my Higher Power and to not expect things to go my way all the time. As another member of my Home Group says: “God isn’t Jim’ll Fix It!”
Arash, Road to Recovery group, Plymouth, UK, June 2011