It’s now four years since I got serious about stopping drinking. My last unintended drunken journey into oblivion was in September 2005. I’d fixed a friend’s printer and, as a thank you, he bought me a bottle of malt whisky. It sat in its box behind the kitchen door for a long time. As it was in a box, I was able to take swigs out of it without its being noticed, until eventually I’d have to buy a replacement bottle. It was always a fine line with drinking enough to get a buzz, but not too much that it would become obvious that I’d had more than we had agreed I would have. Of course, inevitably I’d hit black out. The time came when I hit one black out too many and got that close to losing Lorraine and Freya.

I did drink again, just the once, but not to blackout and I think I got away with it. It was enough for me to realise that the few weeks I’d been in the AA programme had already made their mark and that I really did not want to continue with that life.

I had a good meeting last Wednesday; one of those meetings that stays with you and changes you in some way for the better. I did the top table at that meeting and shared about how my life is right now, prompted by the first few pages of chapter 5 from the Big Book. I won’t go into it here — I’m not even sure why I’m feeling so comfortable now about airing my alcoholism in public. Maybe I’m at that stage of growth where I’m no longer afraid or ashamed and maybe I’m even a little proud of what I’ve achieved? I know about pride before a fall and all that, so I shall try to remain humble and grateful.

It really is amazing how much the 12-step progamme can help with day-to-day life. Yes, really. I am a grateful alcoholic. It’s rather strange to be saying that, but truly I sometimes wish that everyone, whether alcoholic or otherwise, had some sort of programme to follow; it really is that helpful.

And yes, I really do need AA. I’m still an alcoholic and that will never change. Going to meetings regularly is essential for me to stay well and improve. I missed meetings for about a month before last week’s Wednesday meeting and I was getting close to climbing the walls. And it’s weird how I felt well the entire time until I got desperate. It’s the little things, like getting resentful at customers coming in to the Post Office when I’m busy with something else. If I didn’t have customers, I wouldn’t have a business. I need to remember how much Luxembourg’s shopkeepers pissed me off with their rudeness. I’m sure you’ll find one or two blog posts about that very topic if you look back through my catalogue of posts. And not being nice to the most important woman in my life, the woman with whom I have chosen to spend my life. Why can’t I just be nice to her? I was talking to another alky about that tonight and he understood where I was coming from and mentioned a quote from Martin Sheen, something along the lines of his being mean to his wife to drive her away and validate his self hatred. Could that be it? I don’t think so, but I suppose I shouldn’t rule that out. And I was sharing about how I have so many opportunities during my working day and in my home life to work the programme, to change my first response from the selfish to the selfless. And that’s hard my friends, so very hard.