Jane* shares her story

I first walked into an AA meeting 12 months ago, a few weeks before my 50th birthday.

I was desperate and mentally a complete mess. My life had definitely become unmanageable and at long last I was acknowledging that, and making a move to do something about it. I was nervous; I hadn’t a clue what to expect but had in the back of my mind I’d find some sort of ‘clique’ group or brainwashed sect-like crowd. Despite this, something drove me on to enter the meeting where I remember being approached by the group leader. His personal, discreet welcome was just what I needed as I dreaded being singled out and made a fuss of. I just wanted to find out what these meetings were all about and if they’d be of any use to me! Until this time my concept of an alcoholic was a grubby wino or ‘down-and-out’ type. I was aware I had a drinking problem but I wasn’t ‘one of those’ so didn’t consider myself to be ‘alcoholic’!

I’ve learnt a huge amount since this time, mainly through listening and reading, and have come to understand and accept now how the term applies to people from all walks of life and backgrounds - me included. I am one of those often described as a ‘high-functioning alcoholic’. From the outside I had a home, car, family and maintained a professional job. But the façade was cracking and drained me mentally to the point that I knew I couldn’t continue, and there had to be a different way to live my life.

My husband and I had just separated and my young son had shocked me to the core when he said to me one evening: “Mummy you frighten me.” I asked myself just what I am doing to those around me? I was taken back to the dreadful loneliness, emotional isolation and violence of my childhood. I had always been determined to give my child what I ached for as a youngster and be different from my mum. Yet here I was recreating the same misery but this time by abusing alcohol in vain attempts to ‘blot it all out’ and cope with all that was going on in my head and my deep insecurities.
If I was honest I knew people around me were aware alcohol had become a problem and this was expanding as the mask slipped, and I became exposed. Binge drinking at home was no longer ‘safe’ - my secret and double-life was literally leaking out.

It’s still very early days for me but I know I’ve found the way to help me deal with my host of problems and lead a happier, more positive and productive life. I recognise now the alcoholic fog complicated my life further and I wasn’t ‘holding it together’ as I thought. I am SO grateful to AA and truly value the friends and contacts I have made since taking those first steps into my first meeting.
I am beginning to turn my life around as I slowly change my thinking, outlook and approach to life-with all of its ups and downs.

*Name has been changed to protect anonymity
October 2012