I thought I would cover this in one post but I realise that I’ve quite a bit to say about ‘Why Me’. So I’ll be writing more over the next few days.
I sometimes think about the question “Why me?” Why did I recover from my addictions and others didn’t? I’ve seen enough people die along the way, people who seemed to struggle with addiction as much as I had, and had gone through worse experiences than me; who had gone to 12 step meetings, dropped out, come back, gone into treatment (something I never did), taken overdoses, walked into Morecambe Bay and drowned, or were just found dead in bed.
So what was it about me? What did I do that made me different? The answer? I don’t really know. Honestly. That’s not some sort of false modesty or attempt to be enigmatic. I genuinely don’t know.
I can look at how it happened and make a stab to some answers, at what I believe led to my recovery.
First of all I fought it for a long time. I don’t recommend this but that’s how it was for me. Before going to AA for the first time (actually I’d never heard of AA until my first contact with the fellowship, this was the mid 70s), I had tried various ways to deal with my problem; will power (of course), drugs (of course), huge doses of Niacin which I’d heard somewhere would help, psychologists, psychiatrists, hypnotherapists. Did any of it work? No. Mainly because I didn’t really want to stop using, I only wanted all the torment associated with using to go away. But instead it got worse.
I finally arrived at my first AA meeting, at Luneside in Lancaster, some time in 1978 via the Samaritans, where I’d gone because I was terrified that I was losing my mind. My impressions, through the shakes and the fear I thought they seemed like a bunch of nice people and, from what I could take in, it seemed like a nice programme. But it didn’t have much to do with me. They seemed to be there because they had a problem with alcohol, so they had stopped drinking and were feeling better. But I wasn’t like them or how I thought they were. I knew even then that my problem wasn’t alcohol or drugs and that stopping drinking wasn’t going to lead me anywhere. My problem was deep inside. That’s why I drank and it was this I needed to deal with, although I really believed, deep down, that what was wrong with me was untreatable.
After a few meetings I drifted away, and things got worse. Within the next year I had been in a police cell for the first time, twice been in the Moor Hospital, (the local psychiatric hospital, the second time in the locked ward), badly broken my arm. And got divorced.
For the next five years or thereabouts I drank and took drugs. The only difference was that now, whenever it got really bad, I ran back to AA. I used AA as a way of controlling my drinking, but I think I also started to feel there was something for me in those rooms, even though I couldn’t get it. I was quite good at talking the talk but that was about as far as it went. The rest of it scared me; the mention of God, the handing my life over and, in particular, the part about carrying out a searching and fearless moral inventory. What! Look at all that! And then tell someone else!
So I’d drift back out and drink some more.
Then something happened. I was thrown out of my home. Or rather, I was thrown out of my mother and sister’s home, by my sister Karen. With justification.
I had been living back at my mum’s for some of the time after my divorce, the rest of the time I had been living in a caravan, or should I say existing in a caravan (of which more in another post). I must have been not drinking for a period – days? weeks? I can’t remember, but I must have been dry or Karen would’t have asked me to babysit for her friend down the road. Her and her friend went out, I settled in to babysit, and discovered a cupboard full of booze. Of course I started drinking it. So of course when they got back I was totally out of it. And Karen threw me out. Of course!
And that’s when it all changed.
To be continued ……….
You can read part 2 here