Getting Sober in A Bilingual Meeting

Hi, my name is Tina and I am an alcoholic.

My sobriety date is September 23, 2019, and I have been sober for 1 year, 3 months and 6 days this equals 463 days of sobriety at the time of writing this post.

I have been an alcoholic since I first started to drink at the age of thirteen. I come from a small town in the north of Norway and I have, as long as I can remember, frequently made my escape when life got “too hard to handle.”

My alcoholism peaked when I lived in the capital of Norway, Oslo. But instead of facing my problems, I denied them and decided to move to a completely different country.

So I moved to Lithuania. Thinking that I would for sure quit drinking. was not the problem, everyone around me was the problem. My family, my friends, my apartment and my country was the problem. I later learned that in AA we call this: doing a geographic (an attempt to escape the disease of addiction by moving to a different geographical location). This is very common for alcoholics and I’ve been doing it my whole life. Moving around, always searching for a solution outside myself.

Little did I know that I would find the solution I was looking for when I moved to Vilnius, Lithuania on an internship.

September 22, 2019 was an awful day. I had managed to stay sober for 4 weeks. And I couldn’t take it anymore. My whole body was aching for alcohol. I was in emotional pain. The night is still a blur, but I remember starting off with two beers with my friends, and then inviting random people, strangers to continue drinking with me. I was always very outgoing and never critical of the company. So here I was, alone, in a big, unknown city. Getting drunk with complete strangers. Not knowing where I was, not knowing the people I was with. Not knowing their intentions or if they were trying to exploit me, or if they were dangerous.

Let’s just say that I woke up the next day, luckily in my own apartment withmy clothes on. But the fear and uncertainty of what could have happened made me swore that I would never place myself in this kind of situation again! – This time I would quit drinking for good!

I do believe that my higher power was working for me on this particular day, because a sudden thought came to mind; – I will check out the possibility for an AA- meeting here in Vilnius, Lithuania..” I didn’t have any knowledge of AA, I just knew, from watching movies and television shows, that it was a place for people who wanted to quit drinking.

This sudden urge made me seek out my very first AA- meeting the next day. Luck would have it, that there was one English speaking meeting in Vilnius. I was very scared and very unsure of what I was to expect. Would there be many people there? Would there be any young people there? People that I could relate to? And was I really ready to give up on alcohol? Alcohol had been my friend and companion for many years and had, at times, even saved my life. I also had doubts because of my age. I was only 28 years. Not even 30. Was I not too young and to pretty to be an alcoholic? At this point I had also finished my master degree, which I was quite proud of. An alcoholic could not achieve this? Right?

I am so grateful that there was an English speaking meeting that day. There were only two people in the room. A young woman and an elderly man from England. I was so nervous, but I knew that I had to be honest about my drinking. I knew that I needed help and that I couldn’t manage my drinking alone anymore. I had been trying for years to control my drinking.

They started to read a chapter from the big book- It was the paragraph on Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde on page 21. I could relate.

But the magic happened when the woman started sharing. She was my age and she talked about all the things that I had experienced from my own drinking. I remember the instant feeling: I’ve come home. There is a place for me. And these people understand my sufferings.

The young woman told me that the english speaking meeting was part of a group called YPAA- young peoples meeting, and that they had meetings every Friday. I was amazed to hear that people my age and younger was in AA. Suddenly I didn’t feel so alone anymore.

I went to the YPAA- meeting, and I met other young alcoholics who told my story. This was a bilingual meeting and it was optional for people to share in English. As I didn’t speak Lithuanian, people would volunteer to translate the meetings for me. I didn’t want to be a burden, but my new found friends described the importance of doing service, and the importance of being there for the newcomer. It eased my guilt, and also made me treasure the importance of doing service in AA, as it has been given to me. I can now give freely to others.

The YPAA- group became my home group and I would attend every Tuesday and Friday. I can honestly say that if it weren’t for the possibility of an english speaking/bilingual meeting, I would not be sober today.

Through the YPAA- group I have learned the true meaning of fellowship and friendship, and I have met people that have changed my life forever.

I came from Norway, a different country with a different culture. Through my year in Lithuania I also had the chance to meet other people from other cultures. Our stories are the same, our fellowship is the same, and our solution is the same.