My name is Amy and I’m an alcoholic. I don’t remember my first drink – sometime in my teens, just something everyone else was doing.
For years I drank socially. That continued into my marriage; when I was pregnant, I gave up my job and retired to be a mum.
Suddenly my work life disappeared. I was stuck in the suburbs and feeling alone. I began increasingly to feel inadequate, a failure, depressed and very, very lonely. It occurred to me one evening to have a glass of Sherry at 6pm while cooking dinner.
For the first time, it wasn’t a social drink but purely to change the way I felt. A few weeks later, I realised I had drunk half a bottle the night before.
I remember to this day the slight shock and thinking I should control this and tucked the thought carefully to the back of my mind. Gradually every day became like the one before – promising myself that today would be the day I would change things.
I knew I couldn’t stop on my own. My husband arranged for me to attend a treatment centre. I stayed for seven weeks and they taught me about the illness of alcoholism and that there was a way out based on the twelve step programme of Alcoholics Anonymous.
I started going to my local AA meeting. I wanted what the sober women in the meeting had. They seemed content and happy to be sober. I’ve made good and long-lasting friends, a shared common bond, we can trust each other.
I am wearing a suit, cuff-links and polished shoes. I look like someone preparing notes for a meeting – little does anyone know the clothes mask my truth. I am an alcoholic. Nobody forced a drink down my throat. I didn’t choose to be an alcoholic. The only reason I knew there was a problem was that I knew that I couldn’t stop drinking. I was irresponsible, paranoid, angry, fearful, bitter and dishonest. I would engineer rows with my wife to justify storming out and not coming back. My head would race, I could see only negatives.
Drink was not my problem – living was. I treated my condition with alcohol. It worked through university and my burgeoning career. I had just been head hunted, but at all times I had to drink. Six months later I was sacked. I am a lawyer. I did a job for a man who was working with social services. He was sober through AA. He didn’t drink. He could cope. Like the swan on the surface, I looked ok. Inside where nobody sees, I felt dead. I did something I never thought I could do. I called him and asked for help. I went to my first AA meeting in 2000. Today I don’t want or need to drink; today, I am part of the world.
The prison in which my soul was held has gone. I am free to enjoy and see the world. I try to live a good life today. If drink is causing you a problem, give AA a go. You have got nothing to lose.
To find out more about Alcoholics Anonymous and our services, please call our national helpline on 0800 917 7650 or visit www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk