My name is Sarah and I'm an alcoholic. I grew up in Toronto, the daughter of two alcoholic parents. I drank and used drugs but had rules set up so I would not become an alcoholic like them. Of course the rules didn't help, there were endless loop holes and, of course, rules are meant to be broken and pushed and stepped over...
After a suicide attempt, my aunt suggested I go to Al-Anon. I attended for about a year and a half. During that year I had two home groups and fell in love with service. One group raised money to help me attend the AA International Convention and my aunt paid for the rest of my ticket. I went to the convention with an Al-Anon friend who had started going to AA. We were at the regular dance and she said, "Let's go to the ICYPAA dance!" Off we went into this room full of wild young people. I met a boy with a snowflake tattoo on his arm and talked with him for a while. He asked how much time I had. I said, "I'm in Al-Anon,"...and then suddenly it hit me... ALL THESE YOUNG PEOPLE ARE SOBER. I had never really thought that there was a place for me in AA.
I met a woman at the Sunday morning meeting and talked with her quite a lot. I started asking my friends if they thought I had a problem but they all drank the same as me or didn't see how much it affected my life. Eventually, I went to a conference in Buffalo, New York with that Al-Anon/AA friend and was able to say "I am an alcoholic." About a month later I moved to Vancouver and attended WACYPAA. Since then I have traveled around to other YPAA's and have been of service at all levels of AA with a special focus on YPAA. If it wasn't for that Al-Anon group, my aunt, that friend, that ICYPAA dance, and the Buffalo EACYPAA boys, I don't know if I would be over seven years sober now.
One of my most profound "God moments" happened on the way home from ICYPAA in Atlanta. It was an emotional weekend with speakers I actually HEARD, they spoke right to me, to my situation. I spent the weekend having heart-to-hearts with dear friends and was not looking forward to saying goodbye. I boarded the plane and the closer I got to home, to the situation I knew I was going to have to deal with, the more my anxiety grew and the more I felt like I had work to do. I had packed by Big Book in my suitcase, and neither of the friends I was traveling with had a Big Book with them. (These days, I always carry my Big Book in my carry on, because I never know when I'll need it-like on an airplane in the middle of nowhere trapped with only my insane thinking to keep me company!).
I thought maybe, just MAYBE someone on the flight crew would have one, so I walked up to the front of the plane and said, "Excuse me, this might sound strange but I'm a member of Alcoholics Anonymous and I was wondering if you have an AA Big Book on board?" The flight attendant said, "No, but do you need anything? Can I help?" I didn't feel like drinking, I just felt crazy and needed to do my steps. I went to the washroom, wiped down the floor and got on my knees. I just prayed and prayed. I went back to my seat; the drinks came around, and the flight attendant made a point of only offering me pop or coffee. Then a different flight attendant came by and asked if I needed a journal. On the front of the journal was the serenity prayer. She said she was a member of the "other program" and didn't have any literature with her other than the steps and traditions of Al-Anon. I couldn't believe it.
I started writing. After about an hour the guy next to me asked, "Are you writing a novel?" I said I was just having a hard time and needed to write it out. He said "I'm studying to be a priest and we work with people in AA all the time." I pretty much did a fifth step right there.
It was an incredible experience. It was the closest I had ever felt to my higher power. I felt taken care of. By the end of it, I had some clarity around the situation and felt at peace with my decision. ICYPAA continues to play an important part in my sobriety and I have made some of the most incredible bonds with people at YPAA conferences over the years.
Hope to see you in Vancouver soon! THANK YOU ICYPAA!