I am 25 years old and I come to you today having gotten sober about a month and a half after my 24th birthday. I grew up with a happy childhood with parents who supported me endlessly, believed in me, and did everything they could to soothe my worried mind. As I got older, I blanketed that worry by doing whatever I could to stay out of trouble, doing well in school and over just being a reserved little person and teenager outside of the house. I would see others being more confident and outgoing and I wanted that too. Soon, the blanket became alcohol. It was a thinner blanket and I needed more and more to keep me warm. I was funnier and cleverer. People wanted to be around me. I wanted to be one of those elite ones that worked hard and played hard but when I went to college and the work got harder, I just played harder. By “playing harder” I just mean attempting to drink alone as I studied. That didn’t go over too well. I came home from school, defeated. Everything I knew about myself from the time I was young was that I was smart. Not doing well in school doesn’t really reflect that. Discovering that I was not part of that “elite” group made me feel alone, ironically. I took a break from school to figure myself out and work for a while. My drinking continued full force. Almost every day after work, frustrated with the day, happy with the day, I would drink. The blanket of alcohol became so heavy I couldn’t move, no one could hear me. But without it, the world felt frigid and I couldn’t get through. How would people like me without the uncanny wit I supplied when I was drunk? How could I get through the day without the warmth of alcohol waiting to reward the small task I phoned in and called “a day’s work”? I wondered how the regular person could manage to do so much when I struggled so hard every. Single. Day. My mom suggested that I was an alcoholic, after much heartache and strain on our relationship because I would continuously choose to drink alone in my room. I could not accept that label. It made me think of someone dying early and alone, choking on their own vomit. I chose not to accept it and covered it up with more and more blankets, silencing the worry for a shorter and shorter period. After a few more months of covering it up, I finally decided to go to an A.A. meeting, purely to appease my poor mother. The Big Book states that “the only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking”. The desire to stop doing something that has become your life is a big ask. I did not have that desire at the time I attended my first meeting. The desire only comes with a great deal of pain and the fear of losing yourself. I already felt like I had lost the person I was and I was not sure of who I was becoming, but I didn’t like her. I didn’t want to stop drinking, but I wanted to know how I could make it better. I was out of ideas for myself. The first meeting, I felt cold and exposed in just a t-shirt and jeans. I hid behind my mom for cover and she stood by me. I felt afraid and I barely looked anyone in the eye. I had felt nervous and worried about this meeting I promised to attend all day long. I took a seat and said it was my first time. Slowly, I began to warm up as everyone in the room clothed me in stories of their experiences with alcohol. Some stories were different and some, eerily similar to mine. No matter our backgrounds or what we did outside this meeting, we all had a thread of commonality. That thread was alcoholism. For the first time in longer than I could remember, I felt a part of a group that night. I didn’t want the meeting to end. I got hope that night when I got the warmth from within that things could be okay. That was something I had been longing for. Today, I am proud to be an alcoholic because the alcoholics I met in that room showed so much warmth and acceptance toward me and I knew I could strive to be like them. It helped me to get to not only know, but accept myself. Before going to a meeting, I felt different and alone. The reality seemed so scary. I’ve heard the opposite of addiction is connection. A.A. gave me something to connect to when I had isolated and lost myself so completely. Today, I am stronger knowing that I am just the same as many who have come before me to light up the path.