How I went from drinking every day and being too terrified to leave my house to having a life beyond my wildest dreams

Jane is a 53-year-old full-time mother of children aged 16 and 11, who has an “unbelievable” life living close to Marbella. But it wasn’t always that way – far from it… Here she tells her amazing story.

“There was always drinking in my family, my dad was a mentally abusive alcoholic. There was constant rage and criticism towards both me and my sister. It was horrific.

Then I discovered at the age of 11 that booze blotted out my fears and the loathing I developed due to the continual criticism. So, I thought it was fun to sneak into pubs and drink a bit…

A year later I started to use cannabis as well. As well, I always tried to change the way I felt with relationships, which were almost always extremely abusive ones. Looking back, the only relationship I’d known was like this, because I learned about relationships from what I saw behind the closed doors of my family home.

My drinking had already become a problem by the end of my teenage years. I think everyone must have known. But I just couldn’t stop and stay stopped. Another decade later and it was extremely noticeable. Even so, I carried on drinking too much too often for another five years.

Then aged 35, I realised I really needed help – I simply couldn’t control my behaviour after the first drink. But even though I knew this I couldn’t stop myself from taking that first drink. I suppose I’d convince myself that each time it would be different. It was always the same though.

So, I’d wake up ashamed of what I’d done or said while drinking – and full of such huge remorse that yet again I’d been powerless over my drinking.

My rock bottom was when I was living in Holland. All I did was stay in the house. I lived there for a year and was too terrified to go further than the corner shop – and that was only to buy drink. I had no life.

I was in an extremely horrible relationship then. The man I was with had other women. So, I just drank and took drugs alone. I could see no hope and no way out.

Then a friend of mine mentioned Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). I had what I now know is called the “gift of desperation” and so I went to my first meeting. Although I didn’t get it immediately to stay sober, many things that were shared there at the meetings by other people who’d once drank like me but who now had their lives back on track – and, in fact, even better lives than they’d ever known – sunk in.

I kept hearing people at the meetings say they had a “life beyond their wildest dreams”. I wanted what they had, I so wanted that.

Very quickly I found that the more I went to the AA meetings and the more people there that I got to know, the more I loved AA. I loved how the people at the meetings made me feel like I was the most important person in the room. The meetings were so much better than I expected.

Now I’ve been clean and sober since January 2002. To stay sober, I still go to meetings, and a large part of this is that I can now be one of the people who helps some of the people who come to their first meetings, in the same desperate state that I was in. Doing this helps me stay sober because it feels fantastic to help. As I did when I first went, people can really relate to someone who’s been where they are.

I came from an extremely abusive and unhappy childhood, but thanks to AA my life is unbelievably happy now, one that’s filled with love and laughter. I have two beautiful confident loving daughters, who thank God have never seen me drink. I am also so lucky that I have a considerate loving husband and we hear each other.

My advice to someone struggling with alcohol is please just speak to another alcoholic who’s in AA. Call the helpline number and try some meetings and see what happens.”