Perspective: Learning to be in AA, not around AA

by Mark D. (Sullivan 2015)

Revolving-Door-Relapsing-Syndrome-240x180I was born into a family of three brothers and three sisters. My father passed away eight months after my birth. He had been taken by the abuse of alcohol. He was 35 years old.

I was never told of my father’s history of alcohol or how he had come to pass. I thought I had a normal childhood, just as all the other kids had. At 11 years old, though, my life began to change. Out of curiosity I began searching for answers to my feelings toward my father.

This began my journey into the world of substance abuse. Feeling different, alienated, confused, lied to and short-changed, anger and self-pity took over my life. I began to drink and experiment with different drugs.

At 12 years of age I was molested by an older male for a period of time. From this series of events came unsurmountable emotions that took me to a level of self-medication that continued on and off for more than 35 years.

I entered the doors of AA at the age of 19. Needless to say, I was not there to stay. I continued on my road of destruction for 10 more years, using and abusing without knowing the disease was growing rapidly and taking me further and further under its control.

I again returned to AA in the summer of 1995, defeated, disgusted and tired of myself and the abuse I had brought to myself and those closest to me. I remained sober for a period of one year and that’s all I was: sober.

I never worked the program and rarely attended meetings. I never had a chance, because I was not honest and could not face myself or a higher power. I believed in a higher power alright, but I didn’t have a relationship with one. I never took on a sponsor nor ever helped out at my group meetings and rarely was I present.

My one year came and went ─and so did I, just as quickly. I was out again, thinking I can do this now…I’m better. But I couldn’t stop the pain, the mental anguish, the depression, the anxiety.

Gradually this disease took me to all the places it was capable of taking me. You name it; it took it away; legally, monetarily, spiritually, mentally, physically and every other way it could.

I was never capable of real sobriety, I never knew how to get it. I thought I was one of those unfortunates who would live and die by this demon. I was in AA ─ or should I say I was around AA ─ so often that I was afraid of returning each and every time I left. I found myself coming and going from the rooms of AA on and off for 17 years.

Again, I never worked the program, never got the sponsor, never got the group or a relationship with a higher power. I was lost, confused, completely cut off from reality, living a spiritually starved life of complete chaos.

One major trauma or serious incident would be all I needed to completely fall off the radar. Well, besides living every day on the edge and falling off at any time, that trauma happened. I experienced the suicide of my ex-wife, the mother of my son. I went over the edge. I was gone. I was unable to function whatsoever.

I continued drinking and medicating myself for two years after my ex-wife’s suicide. This period of time was the darkest place I have ever been and could only be described as insanity and complete defeat. I lost everything: my wife, my family, my dignity, my self-respect. I was at the point of no return.

On February 27, 2015 I was taken away to a safe place. Here I began to trudge the happy road to destiny. I entered the doors of the Sullivan Centre on March 6, 2015.

At Renascent I found my higher power. I prayed and prayed and I took everything that house had to give. I surrendered completely to the god of my understanding and he opened my mind, my ears and my eyes. I had an experience of pure faith in that house. Let’s just say my life was spared and my faith reassured.

I now work the program, I have a sponsor, I have a group and I go to meetings. I have done the 12 steps and I continue to redo the steps over and over again. I am living the program day to day, one day at a time. But for the grace of god, I am living in the sunlight of his spirit. Believe me, this is attainable through the program of AA and the good lord above.

Thank you to the Sullivan Centre, thank you to Renascent!

About the Authors

Renascent Alumni
Members of Renascent's alumni community carry the message by sharing their experiences and perspectives on addiction and recovery. To contribute your alumni perspective, please email