My name is Cheryl and I’m an alcoholic. I came into the rooms of AA at the age of sixteen. On the outside, I tried to project the image of confidence. On the inside I was dying. I kept up a tough attitude to keep people away. I was afraid if they really could see through me that they would just confirm what I already thought. I hated who I was and what I had become and I just wanted it to be over. I prayed many nights to God asking him to kill me in my sleep, always saying that I would do it myself in the morning if he didn’t. The next day I’d get up and just start drinking.
When I first walked in the rooms, I didn’t know what to expect. Maybe they would teach me how to control my drinking or something. I had no idea that they would tell me complete abstinence. The only thing I remember hearing at my first meeting was, “One was too many and a thousand never enough”. I instantly related. That was me.
I looked around the rooms saw a lot of “old” people. There was one other teenager besides myself at the meetings and I knew that he wasn’t completely abstinent. I listened to the stories and I saw all the differences. I didn’t lose a house, job or husband. A woman told me not to look for the differences but to look for similarities. I may not have been old enough to have lost a house or job or husband but when I got honest with myself I had lost the trust of my parents, been suspended from school, kicked out of band, been picked up for being a runaway and been called before the school board. I did feel empty, suicidal and full of fear.
I focused a lot on my age since I was only a teenager. How was I going to stay sober the rest of my life? I had no idea how to live without alcohol or drugs. I’d forgotten what life was like before I picked up. I couldn’t remember what I was supposed to go back to or how I should spend my time. Drinking and drugging had become my life and now that I was sober, I had no idea what to do. I was on a rollercoaster of emotions. I reacted to everything and nothing. I showed up for a meeting at the last minute and left first when it was over. I didn’t talk to people, I didn’t share in meetings and I was miserable.
I started dating an old drinking buddy. He still used and I was tempted. He didn’t like the fact that I went to meetings. He kept saying I was meeting other guys there. I couldn’t convince him that I was the only teenager there. I just kept going. I had heard that I needed to change playgrounds, playthings and play people but I really didn’t think that applied to me after all I was only 16, how could I change that. Surely they didn’t mean me too. A couple months later, I was faced with that dilemma. Get rid of the boyfriend or I knew that I would drink. I gave up the boyfriend and found myself sitting in a meeting with my hand raised to share. That for me, was my first step. I was finally reaching out for help and being willing to go to any length to get it. For the first time, I knew I didn’t want to drink and I couldn’t do it by myself, I needed the people in these rooms. I showed up early to set up for meetings. I stayed after and put chairs and ashtrays away. I went out for coffee after the meetings and listened and watched how sober people acted. I became a coffee drinker.
I was still attending high school and felt very alone there. Occasionally a classmate would join the fellowship for awhile, but it didn’t last long. The love of the fellowship got me through those lonely times at school. On grad night my home group threw me a party and it was awesome. I didn’t know how I was going to do that sober and they showed me. I did give up the old play people. I got involved in service work and that introduced me to a lot more people and sober events. The fellowship became the bright spot of my life. This was my beginning.
Young people do recover and it is always a joy to see teenagers come to meetings. It reminds me of me. When I got sober, I was told that the recovery rate for teenagers was zero. That wasn’t very encouraging. I just kept coming back and coming back and coming back. No matter what, I didn’t drink or drug. They told me not to drink even if my behind falls off. They said to bring it to a meeting and they would sew it back on. That is true and they did.
I was sober on my 21st birthday. What a miracle that was. I remember being so afraid because now I was really legal drinking age. I went to a meeting and shared. I love this program because people keep it simple and they remind me to keep it simple. I was complicating the whole thing. So what that I was now 21? Someone asked “Do you want to drink?” and I said “no”. It was just that simple. Keep coming back and don’t drink. The rest just falls into place naturally.
I have learned so many things in recovery. I think the most important thing I learned was how to love me and trust in God. I didn’t have to have the bottle or the drugs to feel like I was pretty or a good person. I learned that I wasn’t a bad person getting good but instead I was a sick person getting well. I don’t feel like I want to die today and I don’t hate who I am anymore. I am comfortable in my own skin and I know that God created me and loves me more than I will ever know. He’s not mad at me and He wants me to fellowship with Him and come to Him for guidance. The fellowship of AA and the Steps helped me to reach out to God and they helped me to come to know God and trust in Him. God is the answer to ALL my problems today and for that I’m eternally grateful.
This past September, I celebrated 25 years without a drink or drug and I’m so grateful. Today I still do the things I did to get sober. I still attend meetings, am involved in service work. I’m still growing in my relationship with God and I reach out and help others by giving away what was so freely given to me. On page 164 in the BB it says “See to it that your relationship with Him is right, and great events will come to pass for you and countless others. This is the Great Fact for us.” Great Events have happened for me in sobriety and I have also witnessed great events come to pass for others. I have a wonderful marriage to a man who is also in recovery. We celebrated 19 years of marriage this past November. We have a wonderful daughter who the Dr’s said we could never or would never have and she’s never seen us drink or drug. God is not just a part of my life today. God is my life and I always place Him first in all my affairs and He has always been faithful to direct my path. Without God, AA, and especially the steps I wouldn’t have any of it. A sponsor one time told me “place credit where credit is due and its not with you”. That is keeping it simple for me. Thank you, Lord!