Growing up with Service
I’m so grateful to have found AA and to have also found what my problem really is – and that’s Self-centredness and Selfishness. I didn’t believe it at first. I honestly thought it was everyone else’s fault that I continued to drink and that I was the victim in it all. But halfway through the 12 steps I could see this wasn’t so. I can now look back and see that before I had started drinking, these defects of character were with me. But that was nothing compared to what these were like after a few years of daily drinking. I started to get nervous and paranoid around my friends and even had to have a drink before I went out. Then it came to the stage when I wasn’t able to go out at all and started to cut myself off from the world. Then years later I came to the part of my life which should have been my proudest and that was becoming a father. But all that did was get in the way of my drinking and my partner and children suffered for it. I tried to put the drink down and do the right thing, but I would become so angry and irritable that I would have to pick up again.
This cycle of events continued for two more years until there came a point where I had hurt everyone around me and had nowhere to go. Drink had stopped doing the trick, I was in total despair and even started thinking of suicide. This, thank God, is when I eventually ended up in my first meeting of AA. My mum phoned the helpline and was put in touch with a chap who invited me to go to a meeting. After I had attended a few meetings I got myself a sponsor and started the 12 step programme of recovery, of which service is a massive part!
My group is where I started service. First I was asked to do the sweeping outside the venue. This was easy and my sort of job. Unfortunately I couldn’t stay in that position forever and found myself moved to tea and coffee. I found this uncomfortable at first because I was afraid of messing up and looking stupid. But the more I listened to others and followed how they did it, the easier it became.
Then the chance came to do the literature position. When I started it, I remember people would put their drinks on the table where the books were kept and I would have to tell them to remove them and this was extremely uncomfortable. As in the past I would let people get away with things just for an easy life, but then beat myself up because I was to spineless to say anything. I used to hate myself for being like that. But now, in recovery, my life was on the line, I had to start taking responsibility for my recovery and service was a big part of it. From dealing with these situations I was becoming more responsible and growing more into an adult. I have also had the privilege of being the secretary of my home group, where I have had to stand up in front of 60 plus people and take the meeting. Sometimes I’ve been told that I’ve done things wrong and this has hurt my pride a lot, but instead of having a tantrum I’ve kept my mouth shut. That’s a massive change. Before, if anyone criticized me I would keep it in and hate them for it. Now, Im truly able to learn from it and be a better person.
I’ve also been our group's newcomer officer, where I've called homeless hostels offering lifts to meetings, and made sure that the newcomer in the meeting is made welcome. I’ve been a responder on the AA helpline for over 4 years. Over those years I’ve heard a lot of desperate people in tears and it reminds me of how it used to be for me. Hopefully I’ve been able to help some of these people find what I have found and recreate their lives again.
Service and the 12 steps have changed me so much, It has put me on a path which really makes me feel that Im going somewhere. I am able to be a decent father today and help my children with their problems and fears. Me and the Missus rarely argue and we have so much fun in are home now. Where as before, it truly was a battle ground.
Regarding work, I tried to be a plasterer before coming into AA but had no confidence in myself so I just gave it up as usual. But after going through the 12 steps I’ve been able to take it up again. And now I’ve been working for myself as a self-employed plasterer for the last 4 years. Recently I’ve gone back to college and passed a counselling course. I know this is a bit different from being a plasterer but I feel at my best when I'm working with others and that’s a miracle from someone who couldn’t look you in the eye.
I truly feel part of this world today, I have friends and I know how to be a friend. I’ve learnt so much in Alcoholics Anonymous because I started to take responsibility. I do not think or feel the same way as I used to, because I'm no longer trapped in resentment and self. Today I feel I have so much potential and drive in life, I really have come alive. For over 8 years now I can look back and see that service has changed me so much and has enabled me to change into a responsible adult. Before, I used to be such a people pleaser and unable to speak up for myself. People used to walk all over me which made me angry and resentful, and resulted in me drinking more to deal with it. With service I feel that I’ve grown up and able to deal with life at last. I continue to move forward in my service and hope to be the PI officer for our intergroup (which I don’t feel I can do, but I know that with the support and experience around me, I just need to ask and I'm sure I can move forward more.)
AA, service and sponsorship give me a life that I never thought was possible. Life is far from pointless today, anything is possible. And this is from someone that wanted to end it all, before it even started.
Chris D, Road to Recovery Group, Plymouth