Land Of The Retired Party Girls

Where's the good time?

My entire social life revolved around drinking. "What do you people do for fun?" was the first question I asked my sponsor after I joined AA because it was my biggest worry. I could not imagine having fun without alcohol.

A member of my first home group dubbed AA "the land of the retired party girls." That described me, or so I thought. I would have lived in bars and clubs if I could have. I loved everything about the night life: the sparkling d├ęcor, the glittery shirts, and the shiny wine glasses. I convinced myself that it was all about dancing and being around people.

I denied my alcoholism by never drinking alone. (Well, hardly ever. And since it wasn't often, it didn't count, right?) I partied hard and ignored how I woke up in strange places with strange people, or kept bourbon stashed in my closet for "emergencies."

I learned about AA after attending a few Al-Anon meetings to cope with an alcoholic in my life. I felt guilty going with a hangover. Of course, I now know I was at the wrong meeting. But they work the same Steps in Al-Anon as we do in AA, and a seed was planted. I started to think I might have a drinking problem.

The thought of going to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings terrified me, and I had excuses: I wasn't bad off enough to qualify; AA meetings consisted of older men who had lost everything and drank every day; I didn't drink every day; and so on.

For eight years, I tried to control my drinking. I stayed dry twice, once for a year and another time for three years. Both dry periods were miserable. It felt like hell on earth. I was moody and depressed. I had horrible panic attacks and wanted to hide from the world; sometimes I was afraid to leave the house. I had no relief for the void that alcohol had filled. Because I didn't know anyone who didn't drink, I had no social life.

When I became miserable enough, I went to my first meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous in 2002. I was twenty-seven, and it shocked me to see so many people my age. A girl my age led that first meeting; I could relate to her because of the way she looked. There was one difference between us, however. She looked happy and peaceful. I didn't feel happy but gained a smidgen of hope just by looking at her. When she spoke about herself, I was immediately hopeful.

The following week, I asked her to sponsor me. We met a few days later, and she told me her story. I was amazed at the things she said and how the words rolled off her tongue with such ease. She started me on the Steps.

That night, we went to a large meeting. Being introduced to so many people overwhelmed me. I remember thinking, Wow! Are these people really sober? People played board games, laughed, and acted silly.

I have learned to feel more at ease, and I look forward to AA social activities, which is one of the miracles I have received. Before, I never looked forward to anything but drinking.

Contrary to my initial thoughts, my social life has blossomed. I never realized how limited my leisure activities had been. Today, I remember what I did the night before.

I'm still amazed at the many ways Alcoholics Anonymous has affected me. My life today is enriched, full, and far beyond any of my dreams. As a sober member of AA, I not only show newcomers how to work the Steps, read the Big Book, ask for help, and pray, I also show them how to have fun without being drunk. Thank God someone showed me.

-- Maryanne M.

St. Louis, Missouri,