Before I got to AA, I did not feel like I matched up with anyone or fitted anywhere in society. I identified more with women than men but tried to accentuate the male by riding a motorbike with a shaved head and beard. It was not working; I had no place in life.
I’d always known that I was transgender but thought I would grow out of it. Instead, the feelings became more intense over the years but they had to be kept very secret. Drinking helped me live that double life; I even thought I could drink myself out of my problems and sex and gender confusion. Instead, I lost all feeling and became extremely lonely: that experience still impacts on me today.
One day, it all fell apart and I realised I could not go on anymore. I was nervous to go to my first AA meeting because I worried that I may be different there too. These insecurities were part of the reason I drank. Happily, I felt safe and accepted in AA by like-minded friends.
I like the inclusion of AA because I felt so at odds with the world when I drank. LGBTQI AA made it even easier: here were similar people with similar issues and we could support each other.
AA has helped me discover my traits, abilities and limitations and I’m able to live my life as a sober M2F transgender woman. It has challenges at times but I’m learning who I am by staying sober and doing the things suggested in AA.
I began drinking and using drugs at the tender age of 12. Alcohol, at least at first, made me feel confident, vivacious and extroverted; while heroin dulled the pain of childhood trauma.
In my teens and early 20's I drank and used party drugs regularly - it seemed like everyone in both the queer and straight scenes did! However at 21, after the suicide of a friend, I started to drink daily. Soon I couldn't hold down a job, my relationships were breaking down, my health was failing and I'd lost most of my friends. In the end I was isolating, in utter despair, spending all my time drinking at home alone. Indeed I lost my 20's in the bottle.
At 32 I found AA and the Rainbow Recovery room. With the myriad support, love, laughter and guidance of other recovering alcoholics I found the freedom to live my life sober: a life of integrity, love, passion and honesty. Once trapped in a vicious cycle of addiction, I've recovered not only my sobriety but my zeal and zest for life. And today my life is flourishing!
As a teenager, people always seemed to be calling me a poofter. This made me very anxious and alcohol gave me the bravado to face such a hostile world. However, unnoticed, booze also gradually led me into a double life.
By my late twenties, I looked alright from the outside but was a mess behind closed doors. Worthwhile men did not hang around. My finances were chaotic despite a good income as an air traffic controller. However, I feared that I would have to quit my career before they fired me.
I stopped going out and slipped into loneliness and depression in the privacy of my flat. I decided that being gay was the problem and became angry with the world. I depended on booze to comfort me. Instead of growing up, I had gotten lost in a bottle.
Finally, even my best friend deserted me. I drank to forget the shame of that final scene but ended up putting down my last drink in despair because alcohol was no longer blotting out the memories.
The next day I found AA. It was a relief to discover other gay men who knew from personal experience exactly what it was like to get to such a turning point in life. I was attracted to these AA members because they were sober, openly gay and had self esteem. They taught me by gentle example how to walk away from alcohol and grow up to become the adult gay man I was always meant to be. I found my tribe in gay AA.
One evening in the summer of 1996 we had a big party at my flat in London. About 70 of my closest friends came and we partied all night until 4am in the morning. The next day a group of us met up in Soho. Standing next to me was a man I did not know. He knew me for he told me I had spent some of the party showing him all my photos from my recent holiday in Greece. I was highly embarrassed. I still have no memory of that at all.
At this time I was drinking heavily every day and waking up the next morning not being able to remember much about it. I didn't think anything of this until I got to AA and hear the term 'blackout'. For me this had become a daily occurrence which I thought was normal. But I was sad to have all those 'f'un' times and not be able to remember them.
Nowadays I remember everything. My weekend are spent with friends enjoying life outside in the fresh air, not in a croweded noisy bar. I am always available should they need me, not drinking away the effects of last night.
But the best thing is that I am not alone. I used to feel so low after a weekend clubbing. Now, when I feel down, I have my AA friends to help me.
AA is a fellowship of men and women. We all have something in common and we share our lives in the stories we tell of the highs and lows of life. We support each other. We laugh together and we cry together and there is real love and warmth in the rooms. We have a lot of fun together - but the best thing is that we remember it the next day.
Like a lot of people I started drinking in my teens, but rather than just having a few and stopping I always went in hard. I always drank to get drunk. I managed to keep a lid on things for a while, enjoyed a bit of a career as a performer and enjoyed life, I was flying but there was something missing. I was looking for something but didn't know what it was and the only place I looked for it was in the bottom of a bottle, or more truthfully, a wine cask. Life started to go wrong, there were long periods of unemployment and a feeling of increasing despair - the only way to blot out the pain was in oblivion.
The turning point in my life came in 2005, things had become so bad I was broke, unemployable and almost homeless. I checked myself into a detox clinic on the advice of a doctor and two days later I attended my first meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. Something happened at that meeting and for the first time in a long time I felt some hope, so I went to another meeting, and another, and another! I haven't had a drink since that first meeting 8 years ago and today I don't feel the despair of the person I was. Today I engage with the world with confidence. All thanks to the program of Alcoholics Anonymous
I came to AA when I was 23 years of age. I had lost all ambitions for my life. I was no longer a gregarious, entertaining drunk. I drank alone in my bedroom. I was isolated from other lesbians, the gay community and my family. I was plagued by fear and shame.
Today, I have an extraordinary life, full of meaning, connection and purpose, simply because I do not drink. I do not obsess about alcohol and my mind is free from chronic negativity. I live my life with integrity and dignity. I have the most valuable gifts of peace of mind, self-esteem and contentment. I am free to choose the life I want to live and how I want to act.
I had no friends and no community. I had no idea who I was or why I had always felt so different. I had tried to connect with lesbian communities but it didn't feel right. I found home in the queer community but quickly created havoc with my drinking and drugging. I was a mess.
After a series of horrible and humiliating experiences I found AA. Over the last seven years I have found a brand new life including the courage to transition and live my life as the man I always was. I am a proud queer and sober trans man.