I started drinking at age 11…
I started drinking at age 11 and knew about AA at the age of 8 when we used to prop my Grandma up in the corner in a Parkchester meeting. Knew I had a drinking problem by the age of 13, but always figured those were the cards dealt to me and my life would suck forever. Booze made it bearable for me. Never could understand how AA people could ever give up their lives to a bunch of Bible Thumpers, hiding in church basements, praying to God, and basically dying from a boring life.
I lived across the street from the old Morris Park meeting and used to watch you guys with fascination because you looked happy and comfortable in your own skin. As my drinking progressed, I longed for that—I hated the body I lived in and particularly the mind that I was cursed with. Each year I drank, the more my mind went into darkness…until I could no longer deal with living. I had been to AA before; but, I wasn't ready yet. In 1987 however, I had a choice. I hit bottom, and I knew if I continued this way I was taking myself out, and AA came into my mind. You know once you get a taste of AA—EVEN a short stint—it sticks with ya.
I decided to give the meetings a chance. I had the gift of desperation and was now willing to “wither away in church basements” and drink coffee. I was 24 years old. I thought my life was over: no friends, no love, no life. I was a shell, dark and empty with absolutely no hope. Figured God left me and hated me. The first thing I heard that stuck with me was Keep Coming Back, and I hung onto that. I thought because I had been there before, that I would be denied admission and a woman looked at me and said, "I remember you; I prayed for you to come back." I felt like lightning struck me. I was never welcomed back anywhere. No one ever prayed for me. That woman saved my life that day. I believed her and hung onto it.
The moral of the story is that no matter what you go through in your sobriety—no matter how bleak it seems or how wondrously happy it becomes—keep coming back. I have seen members go through death, birth, good times, divorce, sickness, and tragedy who kept coming. That is a powerful thing to see and feel. My good friend Mary O. (God rest her soul) said to me one day, "Sabra, the one thing I love about you is that no matter what you have gone through in your life, you just kept coming back." That is the one thing I have done right in my 30 years of sobriety. That is our first step. Stepping into a meeting is admitting we are powerless over alcohol and that our lives are unmanageable.
May God continue to bless us and keep us.