This weeks HTYH is a continuation of Tim’s story. I was laying on an emergency room gurney violently shaking when the ER doctor said, “Son, you have an alcohol problem.” I said, “No sir, you must be mistaken.” He didn’t buy it and sent me to a psych-ward in Cleveland, OH where they soon after, strapped me down. I tried to hurt myself that first night so they restrained me and made it more difficult to move around. There was a psychiatrist working there who came to see me early in the morning. He was always smiling and carrying a clipboard. He would say, “How are you doing today, Tim?” I’m strapped to a bed in a nut-ward and this guy was always asking me, “How are you, Tim?” I wasn’t feeling very spiritual and I told him in street language exactly what I thought. He never stopped smiling and he nodded his head while he wrote something on his clipboard, turned and walked away.
After the psychiatrist left, other orderlies came in and asked me to take a test with about 600 questions on it. There was one question on that test that I couldn’t answer. It asked, “Do you urinate more than most people?” I didn’t know that answer; how in the hell would I know how much other people urinate?
On the third or fourth day of my detoxification the psychiatrist came into the room, laid his clipboard down and sat on the edge of my bed and said, “Tim, I can’t tell you how to get a job, what to do with your life and I cannot make you want to live. But if you never want to take another drink of alcohol, I can tell you how to do that one-day-at-a-time!” This psychiatrist, it turned out, was a member of Alcoholics Anonymous. He shared his story with me and all of a sudden, I became willing to share mine with him. It suddenly no longer was “I” am powerless over alcohol and my life had become unmanageable. It became “we.” We were powerless over alcohol, and “our” lives had become unmanageable. It was that simple. I intuitively knew that without the “We” in Step One; “I” didn’t stand a chance. Before I left that psyche-ward that psychiatrist gave me the greatest gift anybody has ever given me; a meeting schedule for Alcoholics Anonymous. He said, “When you get home, I want you to do two things. First, go to a meeting and second, get a sponsor!”
Although my psychiatrist gave me simple instructions, I nevertheless, still didn’t know what to do? I was stuck on stupid. I did what I always do when I’m stuck and don’t know what to do; I called Mamma. I said, “Ma, I’ve got to get to an A.A. meeting and I don’t know how to get there?” She said, “Not to worry son, I’ll come get you!” She knew all about A.A. because she used to take my father to meetings back in the 1940s and 50s. The book Alcoholics Anonymous has always been kept in her house. That was on July 4, 1982 when she dropped me off on A.A.’s doorstep. I would like to share with you what she said. “I’m not coming back to get you, tell the people in the front of the room you are new and that you don’t have a car or a drivers license and that you need a ride home. And, stay away from the women in Alcoholics Anonymous. I only listened to the first part of her advice. To be continued…