I SUSPECTED that my drinking had become problematic.
I had lost the ability to control how much I drank once I started, and was also unable to guarantee my behaviour when I drank.
I rarely sobered up as I'd become a daily drinker.
Drinking and driving had become a common practice with my children in the car, as well as drinking before going to work as an intensive care nurse.
Essentially, I drank for the effect and to change how I felt, and it helped me to "cope" with feelings and circumstances.
It didn't matter if I was happy or sad, I drank, and drinking had become a way of life that seemed normal.
Eventually my drinking ceased being a luxury and fun and became a necessity and extremely sad.
I was largely drinking alone at home and often to oblivion.
My delusion and denial surrounding my drinking hindered me from learning what alcoholism is.
An alcoholic doesn't have to be a park bench drunk.
I was a working mother, with a profession and a career, a nice home, a driver's license and, from the outside, looked like I had things together.
But inside I was dying.
Life had become an existence and I arrived at AA with a multitude of problems.
I was prey to misery and had problems with personal relationships.
I had no clue how to be a decent partner, mother, daughter, friend or employee.
I couldn't control my emotional nature, and I was full of fear, and often very angry and resentful.
Today I understand that alcoholism is a disorder and that I am mentally and physically different from normal, moderate or heavy drinkers.
AA has offered me a solution to my alcoholism.
AA is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength, and hope with each other so that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.
The only requirement is a desire to stop drinking.
After 22 months of abstaining from alcohol and just "not drinking", it all got too hard and I picked up a drink.
After six weeks of attempting to control my drinking unsuccessfully, desperation took me back to AA.
I rarely had one or two drinks, what was the point?
I could stop drinking for short periods of time, I just couldn't stay stopped.
I would usually return to drinking as a reward.
I know today that I cannot drink safely, but I didn't know how to live without alcohol.
That desperation has been my greatest gift, as painful as it was; it helped me to do the suggested things in AA.
AA's 12-step program is a practical program for living; it requires total abstinence from alcohol and is based on spiritual principles.
Working the program has required honesty and willingness to examine my past and make changes that have helped me to live sober.
It involves going to AA meetings, working the 12 steps with a sponsor and helping others.
AA gave me hope, when my situation felt totally hopeless.
My experience is, after giving AA a go, I have a life that is indescribably wonderful.
I swapped the calamity and dramas for a life filled with joy, fun, laughter and freedom as I am no longer controlled by my alcoholism.
AA saved my life, changed my life and gave me a whole new life and for that I am truly grateful.
If it can work for me, it may work for you.
Alcoholics Anonymous reaches out
THIS heartbreaking story was told with the intention of encouraging others with alcohol-related problems to seek help.
Next month, from October 9-11, the Byron Shire District of Alcoholics Anonymous will host their fifth annual convention.
One of the organisers said many people didn't know what to do or where to go to get help.
"Listening to an alcoholic share may help someone in our community who thinks that they may have a drinking problem," they said.
The AA Convention will be held at the Byron Bay Community Centre, Jonson St.
It is an open event and all are welcome. The opening meeting will be at 7pm on October 9 and is free of charge.
Regular AA meetings are held in Alstonville, Ballina, Bangalow, Brunswick Heads, Byron Bay, Casino, Lismore, Kyogle, Lennox Head, Mullumbimby, Nimbin, Ocean Shores and The Channon.
HOW TO GET HELP: From alcoholics anonymous
Phone the 24-hour hotline: 1300 222 222
Local helpline: 1800 423 431 or 0401 945 671
* We have agreed to allow the author of this article to remain anonymous.