I was in my late thirties when a drinking buddy of mine disappeared for a month, and then she told me she was in Alcoholics Anonymous and had stopped drinking. She would make “dates” with me to see a movie but say before the movie she needed to drop by a meeting on the local university campus–right across from the movie. I had no idea what everyone was talking about, but I knew I was leading a life I didn’t like, with people who were drinking, drugging, enabling. Friends (so-to-speak) with a drug dealer. Letting my company be “bought” by drug dealers. I then went to a big gay meeting in my city, where I saw other friends from my art circle. The men were their usual witty, ironic selves, and we all pretty much laughed throughout the meeting. Taking my turn, after about 25 other guys, I just copied them and said I was an alcoholic. Hey, they said after, we’ve been holding a seat for you.
I started going to meetings on my own, eventually, and kept it simple, with a non-stressful little job, a new little sober studio, and twice daily meetings, one at noon, another at night. I got sponsor after sponsor, and also joined Debtors Anonymous, since my money issues were affecting my sobriety. I got solvent, developed a plan for paying my bills on time, making a spending plan, etc. There were about 8 people in DA at the time, and we were all in AA as well.
I got a job, doubling my income. I didn’t like being a legal secretary, but it did give me some stability. Through my father’s death I kept turning up for my job, but was let go. Within days another sober AA friend got me a job I liked much more. I moved to a much bigger apartment, was solvent, sober, and working the steps. Once all these things were in place (and I was dating a sober man), my sexual abuse history rose up and sort of slammed into my face. I “lost it,” and went to a rehab in Arizona what really helped. At the time I was 10 years sober. I’d also joined a love addiction 12-step program. I fell in love, moved with my new partner to a beautiful, big apartment, and started writing every day, publishing a few things. In the mid-Nineties the relationship was showing signs of strain, and eventually we broke up –with her initiating it. I was crushed and doubled up on my meetings.
I retook control of my life (with God’s help and AA), moved to New York City, and taught English at several universities there. At first I went to five meetings a week (for any and all addictions), then facing several medical crises, homelessness, and some bipolar issues, I went to assisted living in a far-away borough, where after a few months I found an AA meeting near where I lived. I went to meetings about once or twice a month — maybe a little more — but did’t really get in solid with the group until I became friends with a newcomer who was doing his 90 meetings in 90 days. I followed suit, and found that sense of home infrequent meetings did not permit. Now, less than a year after, I feel “plugged into” the group, and tell my story of multiple addictions and recoveries from various substances and behaviors, and the personal details of my life — to keep me sober, not to be dramatic or holier than thou. Now, after 3 decades, Ihaven’t found it necssary to slip in my programs. If I have relationship issues, I go to SSLA; money issues, Debtors Anon.; general anxiety and for the basics, AA, and abuse issues — any of my programs.
I feel “a part of,” again, and do service and help newcomers if I can. I “let in” other people, so they will know the real me, and help the real me stay sober. I’m almost 70, and I have been sober for a little less than half my life Without AA I’d be dead; I know it.