This week’s HTYH is a continuation of a medical doctors story: As I go through my story you’re going to hear a lot about the Book Alcoholics Anonymous (AA’s Big Book) because I am a Big Book Thumper—I study the Big Book frequently and thoroughly–there’s a reason for that. When I first came around the program of Alcoholics Anonymous in 1977 in Louisville, KY, it was pretty much a sponsor-based program, our sponsors gave us marching orders and told us what to do: Don’t drink, go to meetings, get a sponsor, do what you’re told and help another drunk.

I never read the Big Book very much for the first ten years that I was sober. It wasn’t because I was defiant but because I wasn’t taught about the Big Book. During my first ten years I committed completely to the program—150 percent. There were six of us with one sponsor and we were like elephants holding each other’s tails and if the lead elephant stopped too quickly all the rest of us had brown noses. That’s exactly how we were and our sponsor basically ran our lives. I’m grateful that I stayed sober during those years and the main thing I learned during that time was obedience. I was, however, living a lie in many other areas of my life and what I thought was the truth was not. And what I thought was important often was not, but that first sponsor kept me between the curbs and taught me how to recognize the difference between fly manure and pepper. I was armed with enough knowledge that I didn’t shoot myself in the foot and although I didn’t know it, I was close to doing that. The AA fellowship wasn’t just for the one’s being sponsored, our wives and families joined in too and we cooked out at each other’s houses, played golf together, went on vacations together–we jumped in with both feet and I loved it. My wife took care of me at home, my partner took care of me at work and my sponsor took care of me at AA. I had somebody taking care of me everywhere I went. I ran around and treated patients, they thought that I walked on water and my sponsor reminded me I didn’t and it was a perfect world for ten years. I lived on the first Three Steps and part of the 12 Step; help another drunk—for ten years.

Now, let me tell you how that worked out. This is the message that I want to share with you. My first wife kicked me out of the house in 1975 and that was one of the finest moments of my life. I hated her, she hated me and we both had justifiable reasons for that hate. She was the first woman I had sex with and I was the first man she had sex with. It happened when we were freshmen in college and we went to our preacher who said that eventually we should get married. We didn’t like each other all the way through college and then we got married. We spent 17 years trying to make something out of virtually nothing—we had nothing in common, but we tried. Finally, I drank enough whiskey to totally embarrass her. I didn’t fool around on her, but eventually, I drank so much whiskey that she kicked me out. I thought that was wonderful, I bought a white Corvette with light blue leather interior in it and a blue leisure suit—I thought that I was the cat’s meow. I still have some images from those days and, I looked pretty good. Blue leisure suits worked at that time. I bought a case of expensive whiskey, a sterling silver cup and was ready to rock & roll. I partied down and womanized until, I met Casey. She was unquestionably the finest human being that I’ve ever met—before, or since. I’ve never known anybody who had a better heart, or a purer spirit than her.

To be continued.

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