Rebecca's story

My brother took me to my first AA meeting because my husband and sons were getting fed up with me. I have no idea how he knew about AA as I had never heard of it.

The meeting was great. I laughed and my brother laughed. He said we would be back although he’s not an alcoholic. What I got from that meeting was hope. But I didn’t go back. I ended up in two mental hospitals for psychosis. The experience was horrible. Alcohol wasn’t mentioned. After a week of being out I was back in. Then someone suggested that it was the drink.

I was taken to a rehab which wouldn’t have me because I was too psychotic. They told me to come back in a week when they might give me a room. My husband and the boys stayed with his mum. I was locked in my house for a week doing cold turkey. I didn’t realise drink was the problem. I blamed it on my life.

They encouraged us to go to AA meetings and the members were kind and put up with us thinking we knew everything. Thinking back to those moments I get a shiver. Seeing people like that in AA meetings today reminds me of how I was.

Finishing rehab, they told me that I hadn’t changed, that I wasn’t listening. All I wanted to do was go back to my life. I didn’t understand the illness they spoke about. So I drank again.

Then I stopped for four months. I had an operation and had control of the morphine. While in hospital I crept out and got a newspaper and a bottle of vodka and went back to my hospital bed. The doctor even commented on how well I was doing. After the operation I went back to rehab. They eventually kicked me out. It was awful. I went to Waterloo and lovely young clubbers looked after me. I wasn’t eating and looked like a skeleton. Then a lady from MIND found me and took me to Stratford. They helped me get into a hostel. I moved to different ones for 18 months, all the while drinking on and off.

I kept going to AA during this time. Maggie was there. She was one of the few people who would speak to me. After a suicide attempt, I was in hospital and went to a meeting there. I went with a hospital drip in thinking I must have had ‘f*** off’ on my forehead. I’d go to Barking meetings while in the hostel and, around that time, I saw my boys and wouldn’t go to meetings if I was to see them. So in the end, I’d drink. I realised I had to give everything to this stuff and absorb it. I’m a slow learner and put everything else first and not AA.

On Wednesday evenings I started going to a meeting. At seven months sober while doing the tea, I told them, “I’ll do the tea but I ain't making anyone coffee”. I drank not long after. That time I don’t remember going to buy it, just remember empty vodka bottles everywhere. I didn’t sleep. It was horrible. I came back to that meeting the next week and Nick asked who the new tea maker is. I had changed in that short space of time. Jack and Caroline would take me to meetings and one evening took me to see Bridget Jones’ Diary. They seemed to enjoy the film but I had no idea what was happening. They took me home and stayed with me until 11 pm. I ended up getting another 24-hour chip which is framed as that’s the last drink I’ve had up to today.

My boys were still not talking to me. I put everything into recovery. I became secretary of a step meeting. It went well and was getting packed. Then a group of us started a women’s meeting on Monday evenings.

Annie became my sponsor. I’d go to see her. I just think it was my time and God may have had that plan. God was difficult, I hate to say, but I was raised Catholic and felt God was punishing me. Every time the word was mentioned I’d look over my shoulder and shake.

During one of my suicide attempts I made a phone call. Liz said, “Rebecca, you need to get a higher power in your life, you can’t keep doing this”. I said “Yeah I know”. She said, “do you believe I have a higher power?” I said “Yes, I do” and she said “borrow mine”. I asked her what will she do, she said, “it is big enough for both of us”. That helped so much. I love step three as it wasn’t up to me anymore and I don’t need to worry. It gave me faith in myself. Step four was simple. Ruth used to say beat yourself up with a feather. When I first got cancer, I started talking to Ruby a lot more and this fellowship got me through the last two cancers.

I continue to do service in AA. I’ve been going to meetings for a long time. I do 12 step calls, taking ladies through the programme. I was full of fear originally when asked to go through this with someone. It isn’t chit chat and I let them know they need to do this and not to mess about with it. I love doing telephone service. I’ve been involved in that for years. One Sunday morning a father called us. He was really pleasant. He wanted to tell AA how grateful his family were for the help AA gave his son, who was five years sober. He told me his son sadly had other issues and had died. His call still sends shivers down my spine. I remember at a meeting, a guy turned up to thank us for the help we gave his daughter, who had died of alcoholism. I have to catch my breath at times at the love this programme and the fellowship can give an alcoholic and their family.

My life has changed. My sons are back in my life. I have many friends in the fellowship who are there for me as I am for them. One of my sons has found sobriety and has rejuvenated my recovery. I attend conventions and have such fun on sober nights out. I recently acquired a new sponsor, which is wonderful. This has all come to me slowly.