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A new shot at life

Steve, Johnson City, Tennessee

Hello, my name is Steve H. and I'm an alcoholic.† I want to briefly share about some of the things I went through before I got sober in AA.

I grew up in a very dysfunctional home in the great state of Tennessee;†raised by parents that had lots of issues of their own and a very strict and fanatical belief system.†† Even though my parents loved me, they lacked the skills necessary to be good parents. †They often resorted to shaming and hitting. †There was a lot of emotional and spiritual abuse, and some physical abuse as well.

I also suffered a lot of emotional abuse at the hands of the bullies in my neighborhood and at school.† They made me feel so small and unlovable.† I believe their constant tormenting me -- especially in front of others -- played a big part in my low self-esteem and feeling like I needed to cower in a corner hoping no one would notice me.† ďIf they donít notice me then they wonít harass and humiliate me,Ē I reasoned.† I thought there was something wrong with me or they would not have treated me like they did.

The fact that they embarrassed me in front of girls was especially bad because then the girls joined in on it, looked at me, and related to me like I was inferior: †someone to be pitied and ignored unless they wanted to torment me.† This made me very timid and afraid to approach girls.† All of their teasing and threatening set the stage for me to become a very introverted and scared adult.

In my teen years I became very rebellious, dropped out of school at the age of 15, and later got into alcohol and drugs. When I was under the influence I felt less insecure and I felt like I belonged somewhere, even if it was just with drunks and drug users. At least they did not judge me or shame me.

I became a hippie: †sex, drugs and rock 'n roll were what I lived for. I was an alcoholic by the time I was 18. Right about the time I turned 18 I joined the Army, and thought I would enjoy the experience, but instead I just had a bunch of clowns telling me what to do all the time, and I hated that with a passion.

In the Army I learned to drink more and I did more drugs. When I came home on the weekends I would meet with my buddies and we would drink a lot and do all kinds of drugs. Later I went AWOL from the Army so I would have more time to party. That meant I had to run from the law. I actually ran with some dudes who were also on the run, so I guess it is accurate to say we were just a bunch of outlaws thinking we were living the good life, but we really didn't have a clue what the good life was.

To be truthful, I did so many drugs that it's a miracle I lived to tell about it. Sometimes I would eat a handful of pills that I did not even know what they were. That wasn't too smart, but nobody accused me of being a genious. I did acid, smoked hash, opium and pot. I did uppers and downers, cocaine, pcp, and pretty much anything I could get my hands on.

Eventually my party came to an end when I was arrested and taken back to Fort Campbell. I had to play Army again for a little while. But when I got discharged I started partying big-time then. So for several years I drank a lot of alcohol, did lots of drugs and ran from the law, and didn't have a clue how to live any other way.

Eventually I tired of the whole scene and stopped most all the drugs. I sort of settled in to the semi-quiet life, just smoking pot and drinking. I figured I was almost a decent citizen. Little did I know this was not good enough. My drinking became so bad I felt like I was losing my mind. I came to hate my life, and pretty much everybody in it.

Over the years I had tried many times to moderate, control or stop drinking. †Nothing worked for long. †Now here I was, at the age of 28, so desperate I was willing to do anything to stop. †I had heard of Alcoholics Anonymous, even though I knew nothing at all about it. †I got the number from the phone book and gave them a call. †The man I spoke with advised me to go to a meeting.

I didnít know what to expect at my first meeting, but I heard enough things that I could relate to to make me want to keep going back. †I was sort of in and out for about two years before I finally was able to stay sober for good.

I met some people in AA that taught me about the 12 steps to recovery. †I was told that I never had to drink again unless I wanted to, as long as I was willing to go to any lengths. †I needed to hear that, because I didnít realize that I had a choice.

As a result of working the 12 steps I was given a new way to live, and the desire to drink was removed. †That was huge, to say the least. At the time of this writing I have been clean and sober from alcohol and drugs for over 26 years. It is a miracle I did not end up dead or in prison. I had a detective look me in the eye once and said, "Boy you are looking at 20 years behind bars." Well, that is what he wanted, but thankfully it didn't happen that way. †I thank God and AA for giving me a new shot at life.

Iím not going to tell you that life is perfect now, because that will never happen, but I will tell you that I can face whatever comes my way without resorting to alcohol or drugs.

I have met many people in AA over the years and Iíve had the pleasure of sponsoring some of them. †It helps me to help others with their recovery. †Thatís what we do in AA. †We help each other as we learn and grow. We pass it on from one sober drunk to another.

If you need help with your drinking problem I encourage you to let the AA miracle work for you. †It works; it really does.

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