As a young girl of fifteen years  I had my first taste of alcohol and growing up in an alcoholic home was deeply troubling.

Both my parents drank heavily before I was born and even in the week I was born my mother was still drinking. My childhood was chaotic to say the least and I can always remember social workers and Garda calling to our house.

It felt normal knowing the social worker was coming round and we would clear up all the evidence of the previous days drinking. Sometimes my father would run them from the door and as children we did not know any better.

Education was not a priority in our lives and I never had the chance or the peace of mind to study. I liked home economics but was never able to complete a full term in any given year.

At one stage the Garda were sent to the house by the education authorities because we had missed so many days from school. They were wondering if something was wrong but all they had to do was look and listen. Every thing was very wrong.

Mum and Dad were continually fighting and there was always violence but this got worse when my older brother stated drinking. It was a nightmare and in normal circumstances this should have scared me away from alcohol.

But I was not in normal circumstances. Normal for me was abnormal. My friends were drinking so I started at the age of fifteen, at first drinking cider then progressing to vodka and taking drugs.

I was hooked on hash for years and life for me was Misty and Cloudy.

I knew I did not want to live like this. At eighteen I was convicted of drunk driving, banned for one year and this was the start of my dealings with the Garda on a personal basis.

Over the next eight years I ended up in court seven or eight times. A lot of this would have been through fights in the family home with different members of the family phoning the Garda on each other. We were all trying to stay safe in an unsafe environment.

When alcohol or drugs were used by any member of the family it was like watching a tornado coming straight at you. You knew it was coming but you just did not know when it would erupt on your side of the couch.

I did not know it then but I used to black out a lot and always associated this with having a ‘good time’. If you could not remember then it must have been a good session but wakening up in strange houses; in gardens, squats and Garda cells became normal.

I once collapsed in the house as I was going to the fridge to get a drink. I went to reach the handle of the fridge door and just started falling back. I grabbed the ironing board by mistake and the lot fell on top of me and this really freaked me out.

I vaguely remember one day in our house a stranger was having a conversation with my older brother who was in a bad way. My brother could hardly stand or talk and this man had taken my brother home from town.

He had been fighting that day as he was always in trouble of some sort. He was pleading for help in one breath and in another he was saying he could not stay sober or clean. I could understand what he was saying because that’s exactly the way it was with me.

I barely remember him asking me if I had a problem and at this point I was sitting on the couch talking shit with my brother as both of us were as bad as the other. Yet this man said something that made a difference to my thinking the next day.

My mother reminded me of the conversation I had with the stranger and she told me I had made a promise to go into his club in Sligo.

She said that my brother was being picked up that day and taken to an AA meeting. The man came and picked him up I know now that this was the start of my brother’s recovery.

Many people have tried to help our family to no avail but maybe we were not ready. Maybe they could not handle all the chaos that was destroying our home.

I remember asking this stranger if he could help me and he said he could show me how to help myself. I did not know what he was talking about then but I know now.

From that first meeting ten weeks ago I have not taken any mind altering substances. He took me to my first AA meeting and introduced me to other female members. I am beginning to learn a new way of life now.

I now know what an alcoholic is and I accept that it is an illness. All my family are seriously ill and I must be honest; sometimes it’s not easy living sober and clean.

I know that my head tells me it was not that bad but how bad does it have to get? I still can’t get to grips with my life’s journey and still have cravings. I still have thoughts of booze and parties.

But there are no bright lights in Squats, there is no toilet paper in Squats yet my head tells me it was not as bad as I am making out.

In the club we are reminded on a regular basis that it is our head that is out to get us and this is where the real war is. But we fight this war one day at a time.

I hope and pray I make it. My younger sister has gone to a rehabilitation unit in Europe and this was done through Bill W Club in Sligo. My Mother, Father and Brother are in recovery now and I pray to God we all make it. Thanks to the club maybe we can all have a fresh start.

I never ever had any good Christmas’s that I can remember but I have to say that there is something special about this one. So maybe after all there is something in this higher power thing that they keep talking about.

The stranger at my door is no longer a stranger. He says their mission statement is; Never miss an opportunity to pull another from the flames; they quite literally pulled our whole family from the gates of Hell.

Update January 2015

I am pleased to say that for many a year this has been the one year that I can remember that all my family are in some sort of recovery. I have not found it easy to adjust to a sober way of life but the more I am sober the easier it gets.

I have relapsed on a few occasions. I was told by the club that some people get sober right away but others have to fight for it. I will keep fighting and God willing through the power of the program I will make it.

Update August 2015

My life has changed so much in the last eighteen months I can’t believe I am sober one year and I am expecting a baby. These joyful occasions don’t happen in my family but I was told when I entered the club that your life can and will change beyond your wildest dreams. Now I know this is true.

One Day at a Time

Update December 2015;

I am delighted to tell you that my baby was born 11 weeks ago happy and healthy. Some times when I look at him I can’t believe I have this little gift of a child, I am determined that my child will never see the type of life that me and my siblings had to live.

Four out of five of my family are still in some sort of recovery today all thanks to the efforts of Social Ground Force. They took all our family on at the one time when others had written us off.

YES your life can change and I am living proof.

Up-Date July 16

Still sober and clean, I am expecting my second child now and I can’t believe that I have been given all these wonderful gifts. A family of my own, recovery with new friends and I have just received my first diploma in educational studies, I could not write my own name i could not concentrate for two minutes; I can’t say enough about the help I have had and the friendship from social ground force.

Up-Date April 17

My life is so different now I am a mother of two beautiful children, and yes life can be tough I’ve come through some very difficult times since walking through the doors of Social Ground Force.

I can tell you this they said your life will change beyond your wildest dreams, I never dreamed my life could be this way I am still sober and alcohol is not on my mind at any time, living life is my high with my children, believe me this works.