This week’s HTYH is a continuation of Dennis’ story: We feel that elimination of our obsessive drinking is but a beginning. A more important demonstration of our A.A. principles lies before us in our respective homes, occupations and personal affairs.
I was sitting in a Saturday night meeting one night and my sponsor’s sponsor leaned over the table and said, “Hey, if that boy gives you any trouble you call me!” I thought to myself, what’s a 72-year old man like him going to do to a young 27-year old guy like me? But, I had second thoughts and feared he might call the Group Service Representative (GSO) and have my sobriety revoked. The old guy’s in A.A. loved me enough to get involved in my recovery and they insisted that I practice A.A.’s principles in my home and not just at A.A. meetings.
The tremendous fact for everyone of us chronic alcoholics is that we have discovered a common solution. We have a way out which we can absolutely agree, and upon which we can join in brotherly and harmonious action. This is the great news the book Alcoholics Anonymous carries to those who still suffer from alcoholism.
An illness or malady of this sort—and we have come to believe it a mental illness—involves those about us in a way no other human malady can. If a person has cancer all are sorry for him/her and no one is angry or hurt. But, not so with alcoholism, with it there comes annihilation of all things worthwhile in life. It engulfs all whose lives touch the sufferer’s. It brings misunderstanding, fierce resentment, financial insecurity, disgusted friends and employers, warped lives of blameless children, sad disillusioned wives or husbands, parents—anyone can increase the list.
Most of us have been unwilling to admit we were chronic alcoholics. No person likes to think he/she is bodily and mentally different from our fellows. Therefore it is not surprising that our drinking careers have been characterized by countless vain attempts to prove we could drink like normal people. The idea that somehow, someday we will control and enjoy our drinking is the great obsession of every alcoholic. The persistence of this illusion is astonishing and many alcoholics pursue it into the gates of insanity and death. We learned that we had to fully concede to our innermost selves that we were alcoholics. This is the first step to recovery. The delusion that we are like other people, must be smashed. Alcoholism is an illness which only a spiritual experience or awakening will conquer. To one who feels they are an atheist or agnostic such an experience seems impossible, but to continue untreated means disaster, especially if we are alcoholics of the most hopeless variety. But, such a spiritual experience isn’t so difficult. About half of A.A.’s original fellowship, were atheists or agnostics. At first we tried to avoid the spiritual issue, hoping against hope we were not alcoholics. But after awhile we had to face the fact that we either find a spiritual basis for life—or else. To be doomed to an alcoholic death or to live on a spiritual basis are not always easy alternatives for alcoholics to face. Lack-of-power, that was our dilemma, we had to find a power by which we could live, and it had to be a Power greater than ourselves.
The program of Alcoholics Anonymous has led me back into the mainstream of American society. I’m doing things I never dreamed possible, I went back to college and earned a graduate degree, and my family is actively involved in a church. I never thought it would be possible for me to grow in the spiritual likeness of an Almighty Creator and A.A. people. I look forward to each new day and I owe more to God and Alcoholics Anonymous than any words in my humble vocabulary can describe.