AA Symbol

For me the AA symbol says it all.

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Unity, service, recovery.

Without unity the fellowship is weak, together we are strong. It means we all work together for one another, no gossip, no Chinese whispers just advice and help.

Service is a commitment, it drives me back to meetings, it ensures I speak to members and members get to know me. Service can be in many forms, making tea and coffee, secretary, treasurer, just doing a chair, sponsorship etc. Recently I’ve found getting people to commit to service very difficult which frustrates me immensely, come on, when you rang the AA helpline was the response “No I can’t help you on a Tuesday as there is a good TV program on”.

Service will help to keep me sober, if I’m asked to do something, there has to be a damn good reason for me not to do it.

Finally recovery, comes with the territory I suppose, stay off the booze and recovery starts. It’s important to talk about your recovery, to help others and remember where you have come from.

Summed up very briefly but it says it all to me…. Unity, service, recovery

home group

My home group is so important to me. For the last 6 months I’ve been lucky enough to be the secretary for the meeting.

It’s a Saturday night meeting, usually it’s busy unless there is a big night on the TV, super Saturday during the Olympics was a quiet night, for overseas followers the Brits had a handful of Gold medals that night.

I always get to share as I respond to the chair before opening up the sharing. I like sharing these days and to be able to get in first and then to be able to listen to everyone afterwards is great.

Last night was great, picked up an old mate on the way, another friend who was there on day 1 for me was the chair, 30 plus people at the meeting, lots of great sharing, some heartbreak from a new comer….. a mix of everything… perfect.

Another dose of medicine to help to keep me sober.

14 years sober

Today is my AA birthday, 14 years sober. I still find this hard to take in, I was a fall down drunk, 24/7.

Yet one day at a time 14 years have past. I have a great life, lovely wife and son, my own business and reasonable financial security.

Few meetings planned for today and collect my AA chip this evening. A day to reflect and express my gratitude.

Drunk, just the once

I value my anonymity, as a result especially in my early days I rarely felt the need to tell people I’m an alcoholic.

In my initial sobriety I avoided or twisted awkward questions about why I wasn’t drinking.

“i’m driving”

“it’s a lifestyle choice”

“strict health regime”

These days I am much more comfortable with my alcoholism but still hesitate to shout it from the roof tops. Often though people question why I’m not drinking, if I don’t want to talk about it I’ll fob them off with the above answers, but sometimes it’s just easier to tell them I’m an alcoholic, which inevitably leads to more questions, my favourite being….

“how often did you get drunk”

to which my standard reply is….

“just the once, from 1980 to 1999″ ;)

Mates all over the world

My son is always amazed that I have friends all over the world.

Whenever we are on holiday, wherever it is, midway through I’ll announce …. “I’m off to see some mates”….. this happens in Greece, Spain, France, America, the UK etc etc, it always makes me laugh because he can’t understand how I know people all around the world

” There is no way you know anyone living here Dad, its not possible”…..

“of course I do, I’ve got lots of friends here”….

I have hundreds of thousands of mates in every corner of the world, even if they don’t speak my language and they don’t know me personally; they sure know the way my mind works and thinks.

This year I’m taking my family to Manhattan, New York, for a few days. An AA friend who I met at my home group whilst he was visiting his sister from America, has offered to take me to a few meetings whilst I’m there. How lucky am I, all this kindness starts from offering the hand of friendship to visitors and new comers.

I have heard some great chairs and shares in these meetings, sometimes I haven’t understood a word yet for some reason it doesn’t matter, I feel at ease and know I belong in these rooms.

Sobriety birthdays

At the start of my sobriety I couldn’t do it a day at a time, I had to do it 5 minutes at a time, then 10, then 1/2 hours, as the days past I became obsessed with counting.

At any given point in the first 3 months I could probably have told you how many  hours sober I was, each passing hour was a motivator for me.

After a few months I gave up on hours, days became important. I kept no physical record, just mentally counting, it was so important to me. Occasionally I would forget to count and then I would work backwards to get the figure.

Then around about 2500 days, I lost count, I obviously wasn’t quite as obsessed about it after nearly 7 years. It wasn’t a problem though as I  just work backwards to my birthday. Amazingly I couldn’t remember my birthday date, was it the 7th or 9th of January? I had celebrated 6 sobriety birthdays, counted back many times and yet for some reason I couldn’t remember the date.

For me this was a bit of a watershed moment, the obsession with days was gone, I probably could have worked it out somehow, but  realised I could let it go and just be happy with being sober that day.

I now just count the years, much simpler …… of course the big dilemma is when do I celebrate my sobriety birthday, is it the 7th or 9th? Well it was a simple decision, if I picked the 7th I may be celebrating my birthday 2 days early which is tempting fate a bit, so I had to pick the 9th.

I still can’t believe I forgot my birthday, it was such an obsession for me. I remember in early sobriety a friend telling me that they couldn’t remember their birthday and had therefore chosen St Patrick’s day as it was about right, I thought he was bullshitting me as it is such an important date.

Next Wednesday I will celebrate another sobriety birthday, I look forward to it, but once it’s passed I needn’t worry about it for another year. My focus these days is staying sober just for today, this is our primary purpose, without this I have nothing.

The morning drink

At 23 years old, I discovered the morning drink.

A dazzling discovery.

The effect was amazing…..  it soothed the nerves, calmed the hangover, gave me a feeling of warmth and security. I could face the day without fear…….if only I could have “fast forwarded” a few years and seen the path I was choosing to tread.

However it was not the morning drink which lead me to alcoholism, that was already present within me, the decision to start the day off with a drink just strengthened it’s hold on me.

Most days for the next decade were kick started with a morning drink, the calming effect lasted less and less, the fear and paranoia grew with every gulp.