This week’s HTYH is a continuation of Judy P.’s, story: We no longer have to hang our heads in shame because God, our sponsors and A.A. have changed our personalities. We are not the same characters we once were because we’ve changed. My first sponsor was a man because I didn’t trust women. Some of you will raise your eyebrows about that, but for me it worked. I did my first 5th Step with him and he was never concerned with anything except me getting sober and staying that way. In Atlanta there used to be the old Henry Hotel and behind it was Lucky Street and that was my old territory. It was a dirty, scroungy old place and I told Jim (my sponsor) about going into those musty smelling rooms in order to make a living and how bad I felt. I told him about the fights I started and people I beat up and the things I said to my mother and my sisters. I emptied it all out and Jim just sat there until I was finished and he said, “Honey, you’re just not that good at being bad.” It suddenly made it all go away, but before that, I had felt like the worst piece of trash that ever lived.

One of the questions my sponsor asked me was, “When do you want to get well, and whenever I balked at working a step he would ask me again, “When do you want to get well?” The question, “When do you want to get well; implies that we can get well. I have an issue with people in A.A. who insist on staying in recovery when they can get well. The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous clearly states that: “We are men and women who have “recovered” from a hopeless state of body and mind.” Recovered is past tense, it doesn’t say that we are forever in recovery and never quite arrived. Meaning, that eventually we are recovered and can fit back into society. I run across people in A.A. who are so hung up about their recovery that they’re refusing to get well and get on with their lives. Does this make any sense? If you want to remain sick A.A. will certainly allow you to do that but why would you want to? Now does recovered mean that we can ever safely drink alcohol again; of course not, but it doesn’t intend for me to keep looking at myself as a sick, pathetic human being. I am no longer sick and although there remain many things I need to work on that’s because A.A. is a lifetime endeavor, there’s things we all need work on but that doesn’t mean I’m sick and still blaming my stepfather for my problems.

A.A. is a program where you can get well and become a useful human being. If you stay sick, sad and depressed it is by your choice but that’s not what the program of Alcoholics Anonymous is about. If anybody in this world should experience joy at taking in air it is we; we’ve already suffered enough for multiple lifetimes. We should take great joy that when our feet hit the floor this morning we were able to stand up because there were lots of mornings that I could not do that. I hate to think about all the mornings that I could not stand up and had to crawl into the bathroom to rid myself of the poison that I had put into my body the night before. I have not had to do that in a long-long time. It took me about four drinks, first thing in the morning, just to begin breathing right and by noon I was totally drunk. I had to find another profession because most of the time, I was too drunk to walk up and down Lucky Street. I lived in four-hour cycles, I’d wake up, and start drinking again and four hours later I’d pass out…

John Barleycorn

The phantom writer of the column "Here's to Your Health". This writer is an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous and therefore must maintain anonymity. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer