My name is Jane and Iím a recovering alcoholic. It has been 2 years 4 months since my last drink. Iím a very grateful member of the fellowship Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) without whom my life would have continued on the destructive path I was forging. As part of my gratitude for AA, I get involved in the fellowship in more ways than just turning up to meetings, such as being a volunteer AA member attending weekly meetings at the prison.
My drinking career centred on the fact that I was lonely and sad and was looking for answers, solutions, comfort and fixes in the bottom of a glass. That comfort or happiness never came. I lost friends, relationships and my dignity because of my unpredictable anti-social behaviour after a drink.
Then I started to get into trouble. As well as lost friends and boyfriends I was losing my family who had enough of me. My work was suffering because I had a hangover every day, spending the day watching the clock, counting down the minutes until I could have a drink. I started to have run-ins with the police while I was drunk in town at night. I was putting myself in dangerous situations all in the pursuit of the next drink.
I started to realise that the game was up. I started to realise that alcohol was the problem and that I wasnít finding any happiness no matter how much I drank. But I couldnít give it up. My body was dependent upon it and I was ill, physically, mentally and spiritually.
Throughout my life I had been searching for answers and solutions as to why I was not happy. I saw counsellors, psychologists, doctors, therapists and even hypnotists but I was never truly honest with them, or more importantly myself. I always left out one vital piece of information – how much I drank.
I had heard of AA in the media and looked it up in the Guernsey phone book and made the most important phone call of my life. The kind man on the end of the phone asked me if I was well enough to get myself to a meeting. So I went. Getting out of my car and walking up to the building was terrifying. Who would I see? What would I say? Would they brainwash me? Would it all be about God? Would they be low-life park bench drunks?
What I found was nice people, normal people, happy people, people who seemed to understand me even before I opened my mouth, people who were giving themselves so freely to help me. I found acceptance, answers, solutions and comfort. I found honesty, in them and myself. I did not feel alone any more. I was amongst fellow alcoholics who shared their experience strength and hope with me and none of them were trained counsellors. I found what I had been searching for in the bottom of a glass or from all those healthcare professionals. They showed me that one day at a time I could live without alcohol. Nobody can truly help an alcoholic like a fellow alcoholic. I had taken the first steps on my journey of recovery.
For me, immersing myself in the fellowship is a vital part of my recovery. From the very beginning I brought the milk, helped set up meeting rooms, did the washing up etc. Doing these small service jobs not only made me feel part of the group but also ensured I turned up to meetings.
I took great comfort from the anonymity aspect of AA. Even two years down the line I hardly know the surname of any other fellow members or what they do for a living. All I know is that they share my problem and they are my true friends.
For many years I was a drain; a drain on my friends, family and loved ones. I took so much but never gave anything. Now, as a recovering alcoholic I have the opportunity to give back what was so freely given to me. I can be a useful member of AA and the community.
I do not know where my alcoholism would have taken me had I not found AA when I did and it does me good to remember that. In addition to hopefully giving the Prison AA Members what was so freely given to me, I get the same experience strength and hope from the weekly prison meeting as I do from any other AA meeting. I hope that any prisoner who is concerned they have a drink problem will attend the prison meeting and begin their journey of recovery.
—Jane, Guernsey AA, March 2015