“Above everything, we alcoholics (and/or addicts) must be rid of this selfishness. We must, or it kills us! God makes this possible.” (Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book, p. 62)
It is my honor to write the story of how I recovered in the “Great Country Down Under.” Hopefully, my story will illustrate the Alcoholics Anonymous first tradition of unity and how the benefit of one addict talking to another is without parallel.
Australia is renowned as the great land of opportunity, which is why I, as a five-year-old child, came to Australia from Frankfurt, Germany, with my parents, my brother and my twin sister.
My life in Australia began in an immigrant hostel. This was a temporary arrangement while we waited for accommodations. We soon moved to Canley Vale, a suburb of Western Sydney, not too far from Cabramatta, the drug capital of Sydney.
As a young child in childcare and kindergarten, I had already learned to feel indifferent to being laughed at in school; I guess my advantage was having a twin and doing everything together.
By the time my sister and I were in primary school, we had moved to the North Shore suburb of Dee Why. Life improved; and since being a twin was a novelty, popularity took over. We were both mischievous and rebellious. Having working parents and living across the road from the school offered a grand opportunity to bring friends home. Obviously, chaos reigned.
The family that drinks and uses drugs together perishes and dies in the torture of alcoholism and addiction. The family that prays together stays together.
Our family was alcoholic – my parents drank socially at every occasion. They entertained friends from all walks of life and everything at home had to be perfect. I hated it.
My twin and I were adventurous and uncontrollable, especially since we lived in a society where anything goes, unless you’re caught. Having been expelled from the local state school at age twelve, my sister and I found alcohol and officially stepped into our teens. Life instantly took on new meaning.
My parents decided to resolve the twin revolution in their home by sending us to boarding school. We were not there one day and off we went, smoking cigarettes and modifying our school uniforms. At a time when the mini skirt was in vogue, young ladies with good manners wore their uniforms two inches above the knee. We cut ours off seven inches above the knee – perfect. At the first roll call for hem measuring, what we had done became obvious. The other girls, despite expressing shocked horror and giggles, immediately embraced the trend of hems being cut short. Though punishment was inevitable and loss of privileges was endured, we had instituted a reform.
And so it was over the next almost 27 years as I drank and drugged my way into recovery. I fell into recovery at age 38, led by an amazing sponsor. By that time, I had three children – a failed relationship that bore a son, and a failed marriage that bore two daughters.
Hardly a “lady,” my alcoholism and addiction left me with a life that included a torturous career of crime, prostitution, bikers and everything that goes with street life – all done whilst in a world of deception. I was broken; I hated the world and everything in it.
Thank God my mother found Al-Anon. By this time, my brother, the first alcoholic and youngest in the family, had gained ten years recovery. On the path of success, he picked up a drink and was dead two years later. My twin also found recovery; but unfortunately after 20 years of sobriety, she also picked up a drink. Doctors have predicted she may not make it.
I called my mother in my last desperate drunk and begged for help. In the true Twelve Step way, two alcoholics knocked on my door and brought me the message of hope I had never before heard. Not only could you stop drinking and stay stopped; you could be happy. I went to my first Twelve Step meeting, shaking and shivering with delirium tremens and paralytic with fear.
I have not had a drink since. One of the alcoholics who brought me his message of hope is dead. The other, who has 58 years sober, is still part of my recovery life today.
Having a resistance to change, my surrender to God (a power greater than myself) came three or four months into recovery. I didn’t pick up a drink, but I reached such high levels of apprehension, fear and anxiety that my body shut down and I began having seizures. I was left with the only thing available to me that had planted itself deep into my brain, “That God could and would if he were sought.” (Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book, p. 60)
I begged to live and be a mother to my children. I came out of that seizure eleven hours later in peace, understanding that God had done for me what I could not have done for myself. The compulsion to drink or use lifted. I continued to go to meetings.
I finally began to accept responsibility for myself and my actions. I stopped blaming people, places and things. I made amends. My children, who were entering their adolescence, identified their truth to me – their fear during childhood and the terrors of domestic violence they had endured. I listened and heard them for the first time.
I took my children to Alateen, where we learned to pray together. Alcohol found my son at age 14. He loved it, but it didn’t love him; instead it led him into addiction and crime. I detached, found the tough love of Al-Anon and did something beyond every motherly grain in my body – I let him go.
To the streets he went where, at 18 years old, he was able to find a path to recovery. Today, at age 38, he lives the recovery way. He has a loving partner with three beautiful children and is a fully-qualified butcher.
My youngest daughter lives in New Zealand with her husband and two children, living a recovery life. My eldest daughter remains in resentment of her lost childhood and does not share her life with us.
Never to be satisfied and always wanting more, I studied the way of God and recovery through the lives of Bill and Lois W., Bob and Anne S., and Marty Mann. My pledge to make good the rape and pillage of the people I loved so dearly led me to help others. It was during this time that I met my husband. A close friend who knew I was in recovery introduced him to me. My husband was the local drunk and one of Australia’s Most Wanted. We married, pledged our lives to our own recovery and to each other, and sanctified our commitment to God.
We were holding Twelve Step fellowships in our home, and our house soon became too small. Today, we have a 40-bed family recovery center in Canton Beach, two hours north of Sydney. Our center provides a spiritual healing place for alcoholics, addicts and their families. We treat their alcoholism and addiction purely by sharing our experience, strength and hope with the goal that no man, woman or child ever be denied an opportunity to throw off the fatal tentacles of alcoholism and addiction.
My family and I went from selfish to selfless. We get to keep what is freely given to every family tortured by alcoholism and addiction – freedom from alcohol and drugs. Our motto is, “The family that drinks and uses drugs together perishes and dies in the torture of alcoholism and addiction. The family that prays together stays together.”
Thanks to all of you who carry the message of hope, and thank you for this opportunity to share our recovery life with you.
Love in service, God and life.
Auzzie Joys of Recovery by Christa Bidgood