AA hosts 42nd Roundup
Catherine (not her real name) was at a point where she could see two paths before her.
“I could keep drinking but I knew that would hurt me more in the long run. The other was to stay sober which would be harder in the short term. I made the decision to get sober and saw the practical benefits right away. I was a better mother and I was doing better at school.”
The path had already been a hard one. She grew up in a family where her mother was an alcoholic and her father, a heavy drinker, tried to keep things together. The family drink was “snake juice,” a mixture of whatever was available in a mason jar. By the time she was 10, Catherine was taking her own jar and some cigarettes and riding her horse out on the trails to get away from it all.
“It was a very volatile, violent and abusive, chaotic environment. Even when my mother got sober, she still had to deal with her own issues and emotions of guilt and fear. I became a rebellious, nightmare teenager, in trouble with the law, resisting all attempts at help. I moved out of home when I was 15 and was pregnant and married at 17,” she said.
She realized then that she had to change and went to college while her parents helped with her child. But she was still drinking and doing drugs and developed a serious eating disorder.
“I was drinking alone, going to bars alone, taking men I didn’t know home with me, drinking and driving. Anything could have happened to me. I had no control over my behaviour once I picked up a drink. I could take a drink but I didn’t know where that drink would take me,” she said. “The pain of being in my own skin was intolerable. I would be drunk by 9 a.m. so I could cope. It was so painful to even think of giving up my only relief.”
Catherine was 22 when her mother took her to an AA meeting.
“The room was very calm and people were very kind to each other and welcoming to me. There was an atmosphere in that room that I had never experienced in my life. It was peaceful and appealing. I heard other people talk about their alcoholism. Others had done what I had done and thought what I had thought. I had a terrible sense of aloneness and shame and fear. People there had found a way to live well and have full lives without alcohol, they had a centre and a groundedness. They didn’t judge me, they accepted me as I was and I craved that acceptance.”
She started to change as she followed the program, got to know her sponsor and went to meetings regularly. The path she had chosen was not always easy.
“The next time I drank, I knew what I was doing, that I was trying to run away from myself. I knew I didn’t have to do that. It was getting intolerable to go back drinking.”
The time came when someone offered her a drink and she said no.
“I knew I was through with drinking. I made a decision to live. Slowly and steadily, life improved.”
She remarried, had more children, finished her education, was successful professionally and is now working on a master’s degree.
“Now I am able to give back to others and that gives back to me. I learned the satisfaction of helping others — that is central to our healing. Now three generations of my family— my mother, myself and my daughter — have gotten sober through AA. I wish people would try AA, give themselves a chance at life. AA has worked for millions of people.”
For more information about local AA meetings, call 250-545-4933 to talk or to go to a meeting with a member.
District 70 Alcoholics Anonymous presents the 42nd Annual Vernon Roundup June 13 and 14 at St. John’s Lutheran Church. AA speakers will be Craig (Nevada) and Teresa (California) and there will also be Al-Anon speakers. Registration starts Friday at 5 p.m. and the Roundup continues Saturday with breakfast, lunch and a banquet. The cost for meals and speakers is $35. For tickets, call Brent at 250-351-5352 or inquire at a Vernon meeting.