My name is Melissa and I am an alcoholic.
I started drinking when I was twelve years old, I would drink as much as I could and as often as I could, alcohol seemed to be the answer to all my problems. I loved what it could do for me.
I was brought up with alcoholism, my father is an alcoholic and I was drinking to escape the mayhem at home. When my mother and father’s marriage broke down and finally ended my answer was to drink more to take the pain away. I felt so lonely and scared and I felt I had no one to talk to: my sister and brother had their own problems – I know now that they were also suffering from the ‘family illness’.
As well as drinking I started deliberately self-harming (DSH). That was like a release for me and I could then block out the pain I felt on the inside. This behaviour carried on until I got to Alcoholics Anonymous.
I had a Social Worker who arranged some respite care; she thought that a break from my family was what I needed. I wanted to stay there for good because I settled down and felt safe in this new environment. At the age of fifteen, I wasn’t drinking because I wanted to, I was drinking because I needed to. I didn’t know about the phenomenon of craving that was beyond my control.
My school work was badly affected; I hardly ever went to school. I was too busy drinking or getting suspended. On the days without alcohol, I was very shaky and sweated a lot, if I went to school after drinking alcohol the school would phone my Social Worker who would collect me and take me to her department.
My Dad worked all day and when my drinking got out of control I began to suffer blackouts (when you have no memory from periods of time you were drunk). I have since learned that these things can happen to people who drink too much. Days would go by and I didn’t know what was happening. I was also in and out of the hospital with stomach and liver problems. I started taking overdoses because I couldn’t live like this any longer and I felt I had nothing to live for. I was only existing and stealing for my next drink. I had so much time off school that eventually I got expelled with no qualifications.
My Dad had, by now, had enough of my stealing from him for a drink.
I had been seeing a child psychologist and went up in front of a Children’s Panel because of my behaviour. When I reached the age of 16 I ended up in hostels. The following year I ended up in a psychiatric hospital for five weeks, I felt safe and secure there. I didn’t want to come out.
Not long after that, I got to Alcoholics Anonymous. I only went because I had nowhere else to go and I was hungry. I knew I had a drink problem but thought I was too young to be an alcoholic. I had just turned eighteen and it was suggested by members of AA to just keep coming to the meetings and if I came long enough I could find out if I was an alcoholic. This would be left up to me to decide so I went to many meetings. This was good because I was getting plenty of identification but at the same time, I didn’t think I could stop drinking. I was told that I could stop “one day at a time” and to start by not taking the first drink. I was now no longer alone.
Through time I joined a group, got telephone numbers, stayed out of pubs and clubs, got sober company, found a sponsor and learned to trust people again. This was great for me. If I had a problem I only needed to make a phone call to her and talk over my problem.
I felt for the first time somebody was there for me. I learned that I couldn’t do this by myself. I needed Alcoholics Anonymous and a Higher Power in my life.
I was also told if I didn’t believe what I heard to believe what I saw. I found the people helpful and encouraging. I felt good about this and I started to get some hope. I was told that I could get better and that I need never to drink again. I decided to do as suggested and throw myself into AA. My sponsor took me through the programme of recovery and I started to find out about myself and why I had taken alcohol in the first place.
Through working hard on myself and with the help of good sponsorship and my Higher Power, my attitudes and my life slowly began to change. I had to live ‘one day at a time’.
I have not had a drink for six years and this truly is beyond my wildest dreams. In my six years of sobriety, I have tried to involve myself in service, I have been to prison with the prison sponsors, schools, universities, hospitals and had a turn at telephone helpline and finally settled in Public Information. This has been so good for me and helped me in my recovery.
Thanks to the Fellowship and my Higher Power, I got a place at university and now have a degree and that has opened new doors for me. I have a flat of my own and a car to take me to work and to my meetings.
I am trying hard to remain responsible. I have many nice new friends for which I am grateful and with the help of God, I hope to stay in Alcoholics Anonymous and try to be a good example.