The Only Way Out, Is In

My drinking started young – very young. My parents (both teachers) were keen to introduce their children to alcohol at an early age – that we might become accustomed to the ceremony, taste and virtue of drinking early.

As a consequence, at 6 or 7 years of age, I was regularly sneaking drinks from the cocktail cabinet after school. Whilst this didn’t make me an alcoholic, it did start a love affair with the substance that held my hand into the depths of depressions, dependency, misery and self-hatred.

When I reached 30 years of age, I had accomplished much: house, car, good job, relationship, kids – even a dog. But inside I was rotten. I hated myself so much I could not stand to see my reflection in the mirror. I was resentful of everyone and everything, pointing the finger of blame in every direction, but my own. The pain of living this way was too great.

In an attempt to save a failing relationship and access to my two children, I graced the doors of AA with my presence. It seemed like a safe haven from all the consequences of my drinking, but I had no intention to stay or stop drinking. I was smarter than that. Once things had calmed down a little, my intention was to limit my consumption: bat clever, avoid obvious blow-outs, reduce the collateral damage, subterfuge.

Sitting in meetings in those early days felt as comfortable as being dipped in acid and having the skin slowly blow-torched off my body. Contrary to expectation, I identified with a great deal of what I heard: “alcohol is a disease of forgetfulness,” the first line of many that penetrated my awareness and the armour of my ego.

I was dry, not sober. This was the best of times and the worst of times. Without my friend to hold my hand, entry into the unknown (sobriety) felt terrifying. I got worse, not better. Feelings and emotions churned and spilt from me in violent crashing waves; whilst at the same time, I felt exhilaration at the possibility of a new found freedom.

Eventually, I started to listen, found myself a sponsor and started to work the steps. This combined with my early service set me on a path of change.

For many years I recycled myself in meetings, service, sponsorship and fellowship. I learnt about honesty, personal responsibility, taking action, making amends and forgiveness. But after ten years I was still carrying around a lake of sorrow at my very core – the hole in the soul had not yet left.

It was then that I decided to do the thing I had been avoiding in my eleventh step – the journey within. Having previously sat in a group meditation and cried my eyes out for twenty minutes, I had decided meditation was not for me; my fear and resistance towards learning to sit with myself was palpable.

Slowly I started to open up. My inner world my new exploration ground. Yoga, meditation, book after book, retreat after retreat helped gently lift the veil of my darkness. Eventually, I learnt to accept myself for who I am and to embrace my masculinity, something had been confused about all my life. I became comfortable in my own skin.

With love,

Adam H.