Alcoholics Anonymous: The beginning of your life

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GERRIE, a 33 ­year ­old artist, says stopping drinking alcohol was not the end of her world ­ just the end of the blackness and misery. Here is her story…

“There wasn’t a great deal of alcohol around when I was growing up ­ we would have it at family parties, or celebrations but it was fun, and I never saw it being abused. I can’t really pinpoint when it started being an issue. I think I have always known alcohol was a problem for me, we didn’t mix well.

I drank alcoholically from the word go. The first time I got drunk at about 15/16 years old, I trashed my bedroom, ripping down my curtains in a drunken rage. At the time I thought that was just the way it was ­ this is what people did to have fun. I copied how I thought I should behave when drinking ­ and invariably I ended up in trouble. Being sick, being carted off by ambulance. I put myself in danger on more than one occasion because of my drinking ­ but at the time I didn’t understand or know what I was doing.

My drinking really came to a head because of the lockdown, the loneliness I felt; and all the time I had to dwell on the horrible feelings I had about myself and life. For the first time ever, I was living alone. I didn’t have anyone to tell me to stop drinking or to make me accountable in any way, so every night I would drink to excess. My rock bottom came one evening, I decided to see how many Xanex tablets I could take without overdosing. Whilst checking the dosage online I didn’t think to take into consideration the amount of alcohol I had drunk! Eventually I fell asleep, and thankfully I woke up the next day. This is when I knew I had to stop, it really scared me.

Even though I thought life wasn’t worth living, there was still some part of me that didn’t want to die. I just wanted life to be better.

I first heard of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) a few years previously. I had contacted someone because I knew she was sober, and I was thinking it was time to try a different way. She told me straight away she would take me to an AA meeting. My immediate reaction was one of astonishment and shock, I’m not an alcoholic why would I want to go there. Fast forward a couple more years and my sister sent me the number of someone else, again knowing he was sober but not knowing how he had got there. I called him, we met, chatted and this time when he said AA, I didn’t feel so astonished or upset, I just thought honestly what have I got to lose.

I was lucky, I know Covid has been horrendous and that face ­to face meetings stopped completely for a while, which for some people was terrible. But I think, had I not had the zoom meetings to begin with, I might not be here today. I was super nervous at the first meeting; I wouldn’t show my face on camera. Thankfully I was told to listen for the similarities and not the differences, and I was amazed to find that whilst not everybody’s story was like mine, they had the same feelings as me. The loneliness, the isolation, the fear.

When I made it into the face ­to face meetings, the love I was given is like nothing else I have experienced before. It feels like coming home and the friends that I have made… well they are my support, my sisters, my brothers, my family. My biological family are hugely supportive now, but my journey with AA is something they (currently) don’t understand; or see as a lifelong process. Life now is in some ways very much the same (just better), but in others it is markedly different.

I am in a completely different frame of mind, I am learning to create boundaries, to let go, to have patience, faith, and love. I am still learning every day about myself. Where my strengths are and where my weaknesses can be. It’s a journey. But from 16 months ago. I am less angry, less stressed, and less depressed. I’m present for my family and my friends. And that really is a blessing.

To anyone struggling with alcohol I would say, stopping drinking is not the end of the world ­ just the end of the blackness and misery. Your life isn’t over, it is just beginning. Be brave and take the first step, reach out for help and step into the light of AA.”

There are meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous, with friendly people who will understand, held daily throughout the Costa del Sol. Meetings are free to attend, and anyone who thinks they may have a problem with alcohol is welcome.

Call the English-speaking AA helpline for support: +34 600 379 110 or visit the website for help and information: www.aacostadelsol.com


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