Are you doing Dry January? Ali Jagger, Participant Engagement Co-ordinator in Norfolk for the Green Light Trust, gives a very personal account of why she gave up alcohol
There’s no other way of saying it: “My name is Ali and I’m an alcoholic”. This can be met with all sorts of reactions, and I’ve been at the receiving end of all of them – compassion (good), sympathetic head tilt (awkward), admiration (embarrassing), patronising “well done you” comments (again a little bit awkward), and often some long lecture about how selfish and “bad” alcoholics are (look for the exit).
As an alcoholic in recovery all that matters to me is that I realised I had a problem, sought out help and now live a very happy sober life without even thinking about alcohol.
People ask me why I’m an alcoholic – I don’t honestly know. Genetics? Maybe my mother was an alcoholic before she tragically died of this disease aged 37.
All that matters now is I went to AA, learned about alcoholism – because even when I joined Alcoholics Anonymous, I didn’t really know what it was. I wasn’t a daily drinker; people would describe me as a binge drinker who didn’t know when to stop – I described myself for years as a “party girl” living the “London life”. I’d sometimes swear off alcohol for months but then when I went back to drinking I always wanted more – that nice civilised two glasses per night to be social didn’t resonate with me.
I want to AA thinking it would be full of drunks and down and outs but at my first meeting I was surprised to see this room in a hospital on that Wednesday night full of professional people – teachers, doctors, lawyers you name it – all of whom had found they couldn’t drink like normal people – once they had one drink they wanted more. The weird thing was they were happy – I mean really happy, laughing and enjoying life but without a drink? WTF was going on.
When I attend an AA meeting, I experience others’ strength and hope and the power of their example. I feel encouragement, gratitude, and an enormous sense of connection. I feel being with other alcoholics connects me with others and results in feelings of peace and contentment.
Having been in recovery for a few years now I still go to meetings to be there for the new person who walks through the doors. I help run a couple of meetings in Norwich and sponsor women through their own 12 step programme. I just help others in the way that I was helped in the early days.
AA is such a supportive, wonderful thing to be part of I’m honestly so glad I found the solution to being free of alcohol and being part of such a wonderful, life-changing spiritual programme.
Every morning I am so full of gratitude for being brave enough to go into that first meeting – and my life truly began after that day. It’s not something I ever thought I’d speak about out loud for fear of being judged – but if just one person reads this and reaches out for help then it’s worth it.