Young Old Timers?

For the younger AA generation, some experience, strength and hope.

Young Old Timers?

Postby aa1987 » Tue Feb 06, 2007 8:23 pm

Just a post here to try and find other people who got sober young yet now have some long term sobriety.

I got in A.A. in 1987 near the age of 18 and am now coming up on my 20th sober anniversary (or birthday depending on where you are and what you call it). Personally I find some issues that living sober through one's 20's are a little different then most people's experiences. Nothing that the steps and the fellowship haven't helped but different nonetheless. Interested in hearing from any one who wants to share/discuss this - Especially those who are getting near their 20th year in recovery but all are welcome.

Thanks and don't drink whatever happens - A.A. does work!
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Postby trent » Fri Feb 09, 2007 9:31 pm

Thanks for the post. I don't fit perfectly the timeline - sober at 24 with 13 years now. However did start that journy when I was 17 with my first aa meeting - but at that time could not ever picture myself with those people, or wanting anything to do with it.

I don't know what issues of living through ones 20's sober versus not would be. I started out the first 4 years a drunk and came out into my thirties with a different life. Except that getting sober younger saves one of a lot of bad experience I would think, and also alows for a lot of opportunity in the direction one takes in life.

Anyway, just a couple thoughts on it and wanted to say hi. Hope some other people that got sober young chime in on it as well.

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Postby Juanita1977 » Sat Feb 10, 2007 5:01 am

Welcome to the forums AA1987!
Stories like yours are indeed great to hear!!!
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Postby Oliver » Tue Apr 17, 2007 7:13 am

Thanks for the shares, guys :)
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Postby someoneinaa » Sun Jun 17, 2007 9:32 am

Hi there:

I was a young person when I came to AA. The last house at the end of the road. Life or Death hung in the balance...

That was 1967. I'm glad to report that I fought for my seat, and kept coming back; despite the oftimes devestatinHg prejudice, ridicule and slights. Many times feeling isolated and alone within the fellowship. If it weren't for the few women in AA before me, who had broken the "color barrier", I would've been lost.

It was difficult getting the program, relating to my sponsor, because he was almost twice as old and had resolved issues I had not yet encountered like marriage, carreer, children etc etc. Consequently, a lot of translating needed to be done, or a generalist discussion that didn't touch the exact specifics of a situation. Yet at 33, he was the "youngest" member around - I was a teenager.

I remember too, that whenever a young newcomer came, they were thrust on me. But I couldn't relate. I remember feeling helpless, that I couldn't reach them, didn't want to actually - they seemed like some kind of threat.

Different times I did some soul searching on it. Why did I prefer the company of the Oldtimers? Obviously, they were giving me what I needed.

And I realized, I didn't want to loose my connection with AA. The young person's persona could sway me from the principles they didn't know - the grass on the other side of the fence. Besides, the only program I knew was a translation from another generation, and would need to be transliterated again by me, to carry to them. A task I was barely up to for myself.

In many ways, it felt like being tied between two horses, each pulling in different directions. Yet getting sober was a personal life, and being a young person a social oppurtunity. A lot of the pressure or resentments came from inside AA... although, perhaps inadvertently.

One of the things I came to resent was the "Oh so nice to get this so young, before...". Maybe somebody had a pollyanna youth, or would like to think that children don't hurt, but truth is... we've all paid our dues, many times over. None of us got here...young or old... untill it was after being gone - a hopeless case. I felt that such a statement minimized my disease, discounted my experience and ability to share the "real" nitty gritty. Having to battle somone's imaginary judgement of me as... not quite one of us.

some issues that living sober through one's 20's are a little different then most people's experiences.

Application of the Steps is quite different, being that we have not shared the common experiences. Resentments are not as deep seated, change is much easier, ideals are not as entrenched but are also held higher, identity is volatile, learning is endemic, thoughts and emotions are still developing. And, there isn't the usual framework of "wife and family", steady job, community standing, debt load, property or holdings... or,even a life on our own "before", that we want restored.

It is true thatw e get to enjoy the benefits of a whole, new life... longer than most AA's who were already burned out when they got here. As a "new person", we younger members have a new turn at bat. Not just a place in the outfield.

In my case, I got and stayed sober in AA. Did what I had to do to "find" myself. Married at 7 years sober. Ran my own buisness. Went back to school. Started a family. Had a rewarding 2nd carreer. Early retirement by disability. Now, about to become a Grandfather. And yes, with 40 years, have become an "official" Oldtimer.

I am now the oldest (long term) member in that same group I attended way back when. In fact, I just hooked up again with my original sponsor (who isn't 2x my age anymore). He didn't keep his original sobriety date, so we now celebrate with our group on the same evening.

The prejudice I encountered is all but gone. Young people are seen at many meetings; bud sadly as ever, not so many stay. The ones that do seem to have to be fiesty, claiming their seat for themselves. And, I suspect like you, there are many issues "different" for young people in terms of their comparative or our common experience.

However... with an almost universal arrested developement, any newly sober person anywhere is struggling with something that young people have a lot of expereinece with... adolescent issues: Who am I? and Where do I fit in? to start with.

Not so different, really. The prodigal son (at any age), coming home. To feast and toil together as a family, using our many talents to the betterment of all.

Keith M.
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Postby LucasM » Tue Sep 18, 2007 6:28 pm

I went to AA the first time when I was 21 and now I'm 28 and I'm still a mess. I thought of it as a joke like these people don't know what they're talking about. I almost felt like I was smarter than anyone and knew something they didn't know but now I wish I would have listened because my life is a disaster now. :x
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Re: Young Old Timers?

Postby Jack the Hand » Fri Nov 27, 2009 5:34 pm

Hi guys, I joined AA on June 21 , 1981 aged 24. I`m still here and never went back out . I`m in my 29th year sober. I`m in Dublin ,Ireland. In my 20`s I travelled all over inc NY and Florida,Ft Lauderdale, Castaway Alano Club. Stick with the winners.
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Re: Young Old Timers?

Postby ann2 » Sat Nov 28, 2009 2:36 am

Ann, alcoholic, sober in 1987, aged 26. I didn't have much issue with the age thing because I was too fogged to see the difference.

Great to be sober in AA. I am sure I would have died or worse if I hadn't made my way to my first meeting when I did, thanks to the grace of God.

"If I don't take twenty walks, Billy Beane send me to Mexico" -- Miguel Tejada
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Re: Young Old Timers?

Postby jak » Sat Nov 28, 2009 9:09 am

It must have been in the late 1960s or early 70s where the idea that, "Anyone over 30 years old is over the hill." I was a teenaged hippy wannabe and that notion sloshed around in the booze-drug soaked brain cells and gelled there.

By the time I was 26 years old I began to burn out. At age 27 I began to skid off of my bottom. At age 28 I was done. I felt old and worn and worthless. I was ready to die.

A remaining small spark of the desire to live was gently fanned by the members of AA. That was 1984. By the time I was 30 years old I was more than a year sober and I felt (and acted) like I was 21 again.

I am 54 years old now and my wife asked me, "Why don't you have any gray hairs yet?"

I replied, "Because I am not old enough."

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Postby ShaneL » Sat Aug 28, 2010 5:12 pm

I came into AA when I was 15, in 1984. I was very welcomed by everyone there. I relapsed when I was 16 and have been sober since then - September 5, 1985.

someoneinaa wrote: One of the things I came to resent was the "Oh so nice to get this so young, before...". Maybe somebody had a pollyanna youth, or would like to think that children don't hurt, but truth is... we've all paid our dues, many times over. None of us got here...young or old... untill it was after being gone - a hopeless case. I felt that such a statement minimized my disease, discounted my experience and ability to share the "real" nitty gritty.

I experienced this too. Once I had a guy tell me he couldn't believe that I could have been alcoholic at age 15. I told him my disease progressed rapidly to the point I was living on the street and eating out of dumpsters. Then he reacted by telling me he never got that bad. So first I couldn't be alcoholic at age 15 and a moment later was a lower bottom drunk than he was.

When I came into AA, I had dropped out of school. I had completed 8th grade but never started 9th grade. While in AA, I graduated college. I married when I was 27 (11 years sober) and am going on 14 years of marriage. I joined the Army National Guard at age 18 and volunteered for an active duty tour in Panama. I later became a missionary in Mexico and El Salvador. I wrote a political commentary for three years for a local newspaper. Of my 300+ friends on Facebook, less than 10 ever knew me drunk (excluding family members). My life is totally different today than what it was 26 years ago. I still attend 3 - 6 AA meetings each week while maintaining a good home life and being active in a religious denomination.

My children have a wonderful childhood. That is perhaps my greatest success. (Of course they are not out of the house yet) My life centers around being a good husband and father. My job allows me to earn enough to send the kids to a private school where I know the teachers and the parents of my children's friends (we all attend church together). My kids take piano lessons at school. At church, my son and I play guitar and my girl plays the bongos. Living just a few miles north of the Mexico border, we do missionary work south of the border every other weekend which has resulted in making many friends there where we celebrate holidays and birthdays. I can't imagine having a better life in this world. It is all because of AA.

I am one of 12 siblings. My father had two wives and my mother had five husbands. Most of my siblings and their children are on Facebook. Dysfunction ravages my biological family. I could go on and on with examples. Nearly everyday I see examples on my Facebook page of alcoholism destroying the lives of family members. It is a cycle that AA allowed me to exit 25 years ago. I see many young people come into AA and go back out. They haven't had enough misery yet. I did. I had enough misery and through the grace of God, I have no plans to go anywhere.
As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.
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Re: Young Old Timers?

Postby Lali » Sun Aug 29, 2010 4:20 am

This is a great story! Have you ever thought of telling your story here in the Stories section of e-AA?
Step 1: I can't
Step 2: He can
Step 3: I think I'll let him
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Re: Young Old Timers?

Postby driflyer13 » Tue Jul 03, 2012 5:33 pm

Matt, alcoholic, sober at 18, 11/13/1989, 22.5 years as of now. Sometimes it's cool to be a young person with some time, but most of the time I just worry about today and when someone makes the dumb comment "you're lucky that you came in young" I just let them know that I compressed their 25 years of being an idiot into 4-5 years. Then I try to do what has got me to this point! Trust in God, clean house, help others.
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Re: Young Old Timers?

Postby Todd M » Tue Jul 03, 2012 5:48 pm

I just let them know that I compressed their 25 years of being an idiot into 4-5 years. Then I try to do what has got me to this point! Trust in God, clean house, help others.

Welcome Matt... Pleasure to meet you

I like the Way you Put it... 25 into 4-5 :D
and the Simple basic... Trust, Clean, Help... Right On Point :!:
There is Hope, Todd M
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Re: Young Old Timers?

Postby Jaywalker Steve » Tue Jul 03, 2012 6:37 pm

Like aa1987, AA welcomed me in 1987 as a broken, battered punk kid suffering from alcoholism. I was a senior in high school and two months shy of 18 and haven't had a drink since. I don't consider myself an old timer and probably never will. I'm Steve and I'm an alcoholic...the end of the story.
Every group has men and women who put too much thought and effort into their daily sobriety and not enough of themselves into their daily living. - Ed B., Akron, OH
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