This week’s HTYH is a continuation of Polly’s story: I am so grateful to Alcoholics Anonymous for giving me a program of action and a simple solution that provided me the courage to deal with feelings that are so hurtful, horrendous, hopeless and traumatizing. When I worked the 12 suggested steps with my sponsor, not only did I gain from working them; my whole family benefited. We were able to heal together and we experienced the miracle together. No words in my vocabulary can adequately express my gratitude for AA.
Talking about recovery is the easy part for me, but I also must tell you what brought me to AA. I started drinking alcohol around the clock and mixing it with pills. One night my husband jerked me off the couch, sat me at our kitchen table and said, “Polly, alcohol and pills are our problem, if you didn’t drink alcohol and take pills our marriage would be OK!” He dumped my pills in the garbage and poured my alcohol down the drain as I sat there in a comatose state. A few moments later, I passed out again.
After that night, I started bingeing on cough medicine; vanilla extract and mouthwash, because my befuddled brain thought if you couldn’t smell me you couldn’t tell I was drinking and everything would be fine? One night I woke up at about 3 A.M. and I needed a drink really bad, but I was too sick to drive to the 7/11 store for cough medicine, the bars were closed and I found myself in the alcoholic dilemma our Big Book talks about. “If we drink we die and if we don’t drink we die.” I crawled on our garage floor searching through plastic garbage bags looking for empty bottles, so I could have just a few drops of alcohol. After that, my husband caught me trying to chug a bottle of rubbing alcohol. I absolutely had to drink in order to live.
Shortly after that, I totalled an automobile in Irving, Texas. To make a long story short, I drank myself into a blackout, got behind the wheel, wrecked the car, called my husband and the police, and told them somebody stole my car. I remember the look on the policeman’s face. It’s the look they get when they can’t understand why alcoholics do what we do. The policeman looked at my husband with so much disgust on his face. He said, “Why don’t you take her home put her to bed and sober her up? On the way home my husband said, “Polly, there’s a treatment center near here and I wish you would go?
That night I entered treatment for the first time, it was a county detoxification center in Euless, Texas and I can assure you it wasn’t a fancy jitter–joint. The treatment center bused us to A.A. meetings. I loved the laughter and I loved the people. But, a small voice deep down inside me said, “Polly, people like you can not be alcoholic.” My husband quoted Dr. Tiebout (Tee-Bow) a Belleview psychiatrist who said, “There are two common characteristics found in every alcoholic-grandiosity and defiant individuality.” Only an alcoholic can lay in the gutter feeling superior to the people looking down at them.
In treatment centers we have what’s called jitter-joint romances where sick people fall in love with sick people and then walk off into happy destiny. We walked off to happy destiny for 58 days and then, I was 12 stepped by the man who became my first A.A. sponsor. He brought me back to that same jitter-joint more dead than alive. I had reached that point in the Big Book where we suffer pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization. The second time around I realized what the problem was-it was sobriety. I could not live sober. Clancy said that if alcohol was the problem when treatment centers separate alcoholics from their alcohol they should be able to leave and not return, but alcoholism is a disease of perception, a thinking problem and putting the plug in the jug and laying down the drugs are not enough.
To be continued.
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