Life as a child for me was full of loneliness and fear with no sense of belonging or being loved and wanted at home. I soon discovered the comfort I was seeking within my peers in the neighborhood. At last, there was something to fill the void within me and I clinched to it.
Together we did, all that we did; going to school, playing, having fun etc. As we grew, we were constantly seeking some adventurous ventures. We would go out in the deep sea with inflated tubes and no one knew how to swim, we would climb someone’s coconut tree and steal coconuts, we would experiment with gun powder extracted out of fire crackers and make mini canons and sometimes we would gang up and bash up the teachers good boy in our classroom. We got a high out of doing all this. All the dogs and cats and even the street hawkers feared us.
And then we were introduced to a cigarette and then to alcohol and other forms of drugs. To me, it gave a sense of being an adult; that I was doing something that is no kid’s stuff. The initial years flew by and soon I was proclaimed a nuisance by the neighborhood.
My peer group by the age of 15 had now changed. They were all men who would drink to glory all day and lived like a king, so I though then. I wanted to be a king and my drinking progressed. My academic education was suffering but who cared; books were for the good boy’s and I hated the goodliness of it all.
By the age of 22, I had become a hard core alcoholic as well as a drug addict. My family tried all thing they though was right for me in secret as they were worried of the families status in the society. I would be locked up in the house or sent to remote location for months or some priest would advise to carryout religious rituals, but nothing worked. I myself was not yet ready to let go.
I remember I had made my first AA Meeting at the age of 18 in the year 1982, but then, there were all oldies around and it felt strange to be amongst them. By the way in the 80’s in Mumbai, as per my observation in all these years, the average age that an alcoholic would came to AA seeking recovery was after he crossed the age of 40. Things though have changed now by the year 2012, as a lot of awareness about the ill effect of alcohol and drugs addition and that these type of addition is in fact a disease is been widely accepted; we have youngster these days walking into the fellowship.
Anyway, so after around 1982, I would still go once in a while along with my peers to an AA meeting, not with the intention of sobering up, but just kill time and entertain myself by listening to the stories of these oldies in AA. I thought they were weak people who couldn’t manage their lives; they were losers and in all these I would try to console myself that I was in better shape and in control.
In the following few year’s things started happening to me those that I had heard members share in the AA meetings. Blackouts, debts, ill health, jailed, fear of future, suicidal thoughts and attempts, being sacked from job and penniless, were now all what I was living with. I was in total denial and would brush off these events as a coincidence.
And finally one day in the year 1991, I found myself living on the streets, begging. I had never imagined myself live such a life. But even then my false pride would not allow me to stoop and ask for forgiveness and help. I told myself, I would rather die but bow down and accept defeat. Truly enough, I could hear a cry within me. It was a voice of a helpless weak man wanting to live a good life. With no hope, I waited for death to come.
But then came a friend who had been a onetime drinking partner. In the days we drank together, I would tell myself that this fellow was worse than me and would never sober up in life. And now he stood before me, clean, good looking; the sober looks, extending his hand to me. We sat together at a restaurant chatting and he shared how AA and the 12 step program changed his life.
That evening he took me back to AA classroom, where I was welcomed and hugged by the very same people I thought were losers. For the first time in my life I felt the warmth of unconditional love and acceptance. I wept out the burden I was carrying all since my childhood and felt relieved and free from the bondage of my doings. I will cherish that moment until I am alive.
It took me almost 9 years after coming to AA to sober up. The surrender had happened, the obsession to drink gone, and after all sufferings, now there was no looking back. One day at a time, I was to make a new beginning from scratch at the age of 27 in the year 1991 and I started all over again.
Keeping it simple this time around, one day at a time, I made it a point to attend AA meeting daily. After a few months had passed by, I took up a part time job to support myself and also started my studies to build a broken carrier, such that it would still allow me time to make a meeting. I also took up to reading AA literature and helping out in AA Group service.
As years passed by, living sober, I discovered that life is so simple to live until you give in to the temptations around and are drawn along in the strong current that lure you to an unknown destination. After having learned the lessons of life the hard way, it has been all embedded in my heart that the First Drink Does The Damage, that I need to work the 12 Step Program, that I need to make meetings and also to keep what I have by giving it away by means of carrying the message of recovery to the still suffering. Today, I do make it a point to follow these things to the best of my ability.
God has been kind to me all throughout my life, as I see now. Today, he has compensated for all that I had truly longed for in my early life.
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