On this day, a number of years ago, I was escorted to my first meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous by my wife.
I was too feeble and shaky on my legs to walk by myself so had to be escorted.
I was deep into Alcoholic Psychosis and was suffering visual and auditory hallucinations. I had not eaten or drank water for months and was at least three stone lighter than my normal weight.
I only went to appease my wife. I was convinced it would not work for me, help me with my devastating problems. I had been in psychotherapy for three years and that had not stopped my drinking, in fact, it had gotten a lot worse. I had been to various therapists beforehand, been treated for depression, anxiety disorder, panic attacks etc. I had once been a dedicated, if not over zealous, Buddhist for a couple of years.
My wife had stuck with me for years through thick and thin, mainly thin. In the last six months she had come back from work every day wondering if this was the day that I had finally killed myself. Put myself out of my profound misery.
Somehow I had clung on, through imaginary exhortations from the BBC weather girl telling me to kill my self, through the chronic paranoia and the imminent visit to my front door of the imaginary gang that were about to take my life, through the constant dry wretching, the almost uncontrollable shakes.
Worse than any of this, believe it or not, was the fact that the drink, that alcohol, had stopped working. It only served to stave off the edge of the hallucinations and then prompt their worsening intensity.
There is a worse place than dying, I have lived there for quite a while. This is a progressive disease I can assure you of that much. If it is bad now with you, it will get much worse. This is my experience.
It takes your life away and then kills you.
If you can get off the train before this destination I implore you too now!
They did not tell me when I bought my first drink that it would take me to hell one day, it did not have a label expressing caution, not suitable for potential alcoholics.
I was addicted to alcohol, completely, drinking every minute of every day and night, sleeping 15 minutes before waking to wretch or to drink or both. The nightly sweats and the delirium tremens.
I only got AA because the drink had stopped working. I only got AA because I had no choice. I only got AA because I had surrendered completely. I only got the Big Book because it was written by fellow “last gaspers”. I only got AA because you spoke my language, thought and felt like me.
You are my people, my tribe. I only got AA because I realised it was the home I was looking for. You were like me and me, you. I identified with you. I saw me in you. I saw for the first time that I could belong to a “we”.
“We of Alcoholics Anonymous..” I never thought belonging was for me. In truth I never thought I was good enough for you and yours. Whoever you and your’s were?
I was an emotional Steppenwolf banishing any sense of belonging to anything.
It is my sincere hope that you, someone you know, who needs help can experience a similar feeling of belonging this Christmas period. That they can begin a life changing journey. Be reborn.
Please give AA a go and if you do not like it we can also refund your misery. That is the price isn’t it, of membership?
AA saved my life and gave me a life much more profound than I could ever have imagined. It keeps getting better too!
The best present ever this year would be to know that passing the message on has helped get someone to a meeting and helped someone take those tentative first steps in recovery.
You are not alone. We are here to help. God Bless.