Hello my name is Tammy and I'm an alcoholic.
I started drinking when I was about 13 - with my mates, whenever we had the opportunity.
Straight away I loved the feeling of escape it gave me and from the start, whenever I drank,
I drank to excess. I was never one to think "Oh I'm feeling a bit woozy now, I'll stop"
It was all or nothing. I was unable to control how much I drank once I started.
This inability to control how much I drank lasted right up until the end of my drinking and
I know now that this is a trait of alcoholism. Clubbing and partying was a huge part of my life
and I literally "lived for the weekend". What accompanied the weekend though
(and the weekdays when I had the opportunity to drink) were some harsh consequences - blackouts,
arguments, fights and putting myself in very dangerous situations were all commonplace.
My studying was affected, then my work, my relationships were affected, my life was going down a path
that I hadn't expected and so when I was 20 I went to an AA meeting. Everyone was lovely and friendly
and I shared about how my inability to control my drinking and the consequences was messing up my life.
I went to a few more meetings after that but truthfully, what I wanted was to be able to control
the amount I drank and to stop acting like such a total prat when I'd been drinking.
I now know that I was asking the impossible. My partner at the time said things to me like
"Oh but surely you aren't going to stop for good, drinking is a huge part of your personality"
and "You're way too young to be an alcoholic" and I guess that was all the encouragement
I needed to stop going. I told myself that being as I'd gone to a few meetings at a young age,
it meant that I'd "Nipped it in the bud". I was different to the people there. I would be able to control it now.
I was cleverer than them. I heard stories in the meetings of people who had lost so much and I thought
"No way would I let a drink in a bottle bring me to my knees". I honestly believed I'd fixed myself.
I couldn't have been more wrong! At the time I didn't know that alcoholism is a progressive disease
and progress it did. Over the years I continued drinking more and the consequences got worse and worse.
I had brief periods where I'd seem to get it together for a while but then it'd spiral again and always worse than before.
I kidded myself that I could stop when I wanted. I told myself I was just a young party girl having fun.
I believed I was the smart one, wanting to party all the time - "Isn't that what life is all about?" I told myself.
I missed out on a lot of life by thinking this. I ended up being unable to hold a job down because my
mental health was in a terrible state - something I can now attribute to the amounts I was drinking,
and by the time I was 35 I was drinking in the mornings, something I said I would never do became
normal to me. I could barely leave the house by this point, I was so anxious all the time and
the more I drank the worse I got, even though I tried to tell myself constantly that the alcohol
was making me feel better! This denial of what was happening could have killed me. I started to
have alcoholic psychosis and saw and heard things that weren't there. It was a very very frightening time.
My relationships were in tatters. I'd hurt a lot of people very badly through my drinking. My physical health
had been ravaged by alcohol too (in 2017 I had to have both of my hips replaced - I had a disease in them
that was caused by my previous excessive alcohol consumption). At the start of 2015 I was so poorly
I ended up in residential rehab for 3 months and that's where I started back at AA. I haven't taken an
alcoholic drink since that point. Life today is better than I could have hoped for. I went into rehab
just hoping not to die, but thanks to AA and the 12 step programme of recovery I have peace of mind today,
the painful anxiety and the debilitating depression are not there. Don't get me wrong early recovery was difficult
as I was learning to live without my constant crutch and life still has it's difficult times, but at no point anymore
do I want to drink. Which for someone who, in the end, couldn't go 24 hours without alcohol is a real-life miracle!
The 12 steps have given me a way to live which mean I don't need alcohol. A healthy way to navigate life really.
AA has given me so much more than not wanting or needing to drink. I have a good life today,
I have made some of the best friends possible, my mental health is the best it's been my whole adult life,
I am able to help people today, I laugh today - a lot! But most of all, I can put my head on the pillow at night
with a clear conscience and some peace in my heart.
If I'd stuck around when I first went to AA. If I'd truly listened to what people said instead of thinking
that I was the clever one, I feel sure that things wouldn't have got so bad for me and for those I love.
I lost many years of normal, healthy, happy living through my own ego telling me I was better than
the people who had got sober!
AA has given me back everything that alcohol took from me - and then some!
I am so very grateful for the life I have today.