This week’s “Here’s To Your Health” is a continuation of Dennis’ story: I was flattered to be invited to ‘the meeting after the meeting,’ until I discovered it was about me. I was reluctant to get an A.A. sponsor because I couldn’t find one who was a Vietnam Vet, with O positive blood, as tall as me and had a wife and two children.
James chaired that meeting after the meeting and he began by saying, “Boy, did you ask God to keep you sober the last time you got drunk and stupid?” For reasons I’ll never know, I told him the truth, it suddenly felt good to tell the truth. I said, “No!” It doesn’t normally take but one or two words to tell the truth. James said, “Boy, if you don’t come to these meetings, use the A.A. program and the people God (the God of your understanding) surrounds you with at meetings, how are you ever going to stay sober?” They said a lot of other things too, but when I left there that night, I went home knowing the basics for my recovery.
I know Dennis can’t keep Dennis sober by himself. That I can’t use any other mood altering chemical to replace alcohol with and that absolute abstinence is essential for my recovery. One drink of alcohol is too many and a 100 is not enough and that I must respect and form a relationship with a God of my understanding (or misunderstanding) to stay sober. There is no other way for Dennis than daily prayer and meditation and applying A. A.’s program of action as it’s outlined in The Big Book (Alcoholics Anonymous).
The thing I most hated about A.A. is what I love the most today and that’s Dennis needs an A.A. sponsor to lead him through the steps and guide him through A. A.’s program of action. Working the 12-steps of Alcoholics Anonymous with a sponsor has literally changed and transformed my whole life. The old timers didn’t allow me to procrastinate; they insisted I get busy working the steps. The old guys sort of passed me around and I ended up with old A.C. again, and he walked me through The Big Book-the 12 steps and our program of daily actions.
In the beginning I hated it but it’s the most loving thing I’ve ever experienced and it saved my life. A.C said, “Now boy, if you stay sober you can help another alcoholic stay sober!” “If you can’t teach them the way you were taught, walk them through the steps and teach them what you know. You might be cheating them out of the only chance at recovery they’re ever going to have. If you can’t sponsor new people the way you were sponsored; then get them to somebody who can.”
The old timers insisted that I empty and clean ashtrays, set up chairs, mop floors and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. They talked to me about the way I treated my family and about practicing A. A.’s principles at home and at my job. They had me read pages 18-19 in The Big Book: The ex-problem drinker who has found a solution, who is properly armed with the facts about himself, can generally win the entire confidence of another alcoholic in a few hours. Until such an understanding is reached, little or nothing can be accomplished. That the man who is making the approach has had the same difficulty, that he obviously knows what he is talking about. That his whole deportment shouts at the new prospect that he is a man with a real answer. That he has no attitude of Holier Than Though, nothing whatever except the sincere desire to be helpful; that there are no dues or fees to pay, no axes to grind, no people to please, no lectures to be endured—these are the conditions we have found most effective. After such an approach many chronic alcoholics take up their beds and walk again. None of us makes a sole vocation of this work, nor do we think its effectiveness would be increased if we did. We feel that elimination of our drinking is but a beginning. A much more important demonstration of our A. A. principles lies before us in our respective homes, occupations and affairs.
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