This week’s HTYH is a continuation of Dennis’ story: I had reached a point in my life where the only way I could feel good was to pick up the very thing that made me feel bad. I was on the merry-go-round of chronic alcoholism. The way I was dealing with my problem was by picking up the very thing that was intensifying my problem; the very thing that caused more trouble, but I couldn’t see that. Not seeing is the exact reason I needed Alcoholics Anonymous, a home group, a sponsor and to learn how to stay focused on a ‘program of action’ that’s outlined in the book Alcoholics Anonymous. I need Alcoholics Anonymous’ meetings because I cannot see myself as I am; I cannot see the truth about me.


As I began going to A.A. meetings, I heard exactly what I needed to hear. I thank God for the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and especially the inventory steps. At first, I didn’t think I was hearing anything, but now let me tell you what I heard: I heard about the onset of alcoholism, the problem of alcoholism, the solution to alcoholism and the most important thing that I heard was their program of action that brings about a solution to alcoholism.

I knew nothing about alcoholism and didn’t want to know about it and at first, even though I didn’t retain much of what was said, I knew that I had the same problem they did, I drank like them and it was one of the few places where I felt like I belonged. I’m an old country boy raised on a 13 acre cotton farm but I didn’t think I belonged there, I thought that I should’ve been born a rich Jewish boy in the Bronx of NY. Instead, I was born on a cotton farm with a whole bunch of sisters who loved and mothered me? My sisters did well in school but I was lazy and didn’t like following the rules, I figured rules were made for other people. I started wearing glasses when I was five years old and I couldn’t figure out why because I never could read.

Later in life, I learned that I have a weak muscle in my left eye; when I look at you it’s looking somewhere else and when I look up the other eye is looking down. I had to quit drinking in bars because of that eye; it was the first thing that got drunk. When I started drinking in bars, it offended me when they didn’t sell Thunderbird wine because that was my drink of choice. I’m about 6 foot 7 inches tall and there was always some short guy at the other end of the bar looking at me. Now, a short drunk with a short guy attitude will never allow a tall drunk to enjoy his drinking. I’d take a drink and he’d take a drink and before long my wandering eye would accidentally look at him. The short guy would walk all the way from his end of that bar to mine and ask, “What’re you looking at?” I didn’t have any idea what my eye was looking at but that’s what started the fights; we’d have to fight and then I’d get barred from that saloon for life.

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John Barleycorn

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