I honestly don’t remember my first drink.
I grew up surrounded by the Puerto Rican side of my family and the coquito (spiked eggnog) flowed at family gatherings. They always made sure the kids had some to quiet us down. As a child, I always felt like I was missing out on something, as if there were some secret that everyone knew about—except me. I hated going to bed because I just knew something great was going to occur in my absence.
I had my first drunk at age 14. It gave me that warm feeling inside; my shoulders relaxed and that empty suspicious feeling I had throughout my childhood melted away. I became relaxed and my sense of humor helped me be part of any group I chose.
By the time I was in my late twenties, stories of my antics in the discos, nightclubs, and after hours spots were getting back to my family. As a result, they tried to make me act more responsibly. New York was obviously getting too small, so, I moved to California.
My drinking really took off in San Francisco. After seven years there, I was drinking heavier than I had in the past, was getting lonely, and felt estranged from my family. My sister was expecting a baby and my Mom was getting up there in years so I thought it was the perfect time to return to New York and get my life back together. At first it was OK: I got a new job and was trying to control my drinking. After three months, my “trial period” at work was over and I began to drink more than ever. My life became smaller and smaller until it was a dull routine of coming to in the morning, getting drunk, going to work, having a “few” at lunchtime, and then going home and drinking myself to sleep.
After a few years of this routine, I arrived at the end of my emotional rope. I had done some shameful and demoralizing things over the years and I just snapped. One night I sat down on my couch and started sobbing. I was so desperate I called out to God to please help me. I cried myself to sleep that night and went to my first AA meeting the next day.
To say I was terrified of walking into that first AA meeting is an understatement. When someone “suggested” I go to 90 meetings in 90 days I was overwhelmed. It felt like work at first but; slowly, I began to enjoy the meetings and the people. My sponsor took me through the Big Book and had me go through the 12 Steps. I was directed into service and it was also suggested I get involved in the fellowship. That happened 22 years ago and although I have gone through some hard times in sobriety, I never had a reason to go back out and drink again. For this, I thank the God of my understanding and the fellowship—both of which I found in AA.