This week’s HTYH is a continuation of an M.D.’s story:

Because I was only working a three step program; I was full of fear and without a design for living—it takes all 12 of the steps for us to survive and I was only doing three of them. I’d say to my sponsor, “Jim, I’m full of fear.” And he’d say, “Pray about it,” but it wouldn’t go away no matter what I did. Praying about a problem is the right answer, but there are a few other actions we must do immediately after we pray–like working steps 4 and 5 and the rest of the steps.

My wife was 13 years younger than me, drop-dead beautiful and she was surrounded by young campus jocks, you bet, I was filled with fear and resentment. I feared that she might have sex with one of them, or they might rape her. Alcoholics are sensitive people and we tend to blow everything out of proportion no matter if it’s justified, or unjustified. Once-upon-a-time we found relief in alcohol and drugs–they relieved our mental twists, but we can no longer go there without killing ourselves and sometimes we imagine all sorts of stuff—we can go crazy sober. The Book, ‘Alcoholics Anonymous,’ says that a chronic alcoholic has a ‘magic magnifying mind.’

I could no longer use alcohol or drugs to soothe my mental twists so I turned to sex and, extramarital sex– it was just as easy as sliding into the front seat of a car. I had a nurse who had been with me two years and she always made me feel special, she was divorced, had two children and I can assure you this was not a sordid affair, it was an affair with credibility! She was not a Grey Hound prostitute–she was a beautiful, professional, intelligent and genuine lady—I adored her. She worked for me two years before suddenly being transformed into a gorgeous, irresistible fantasy. I was 51 years old, ten years sober, and I was thinking: you know, these two women are fine, intelligent women and I don’t know why all three of us couldn’t just get along and live together. To me this seemed logical, they loved me, and I loved them, why wouldn’t we all get along? One late night after being with my fantasy, I was driving home and the thought crossed my mind that I was going to get drunk; not maybe, but yes, I was going to get drunk–I was on thin ice.

In a moment of clarity, I saw that I was indeed living a lie in a program that demands rigorous honesty. Yes, I was going to get drunk—it was inevitable. If I am keeping a secret, or have held something back in steps 4 & 5-I’m a bad crash waiting to happen. And, when I mention steps four and five, that means shared them with God and another human being. If you’re one of us, and you’re living a lie, it will get you drunk. If you don’t believe this you can conduct the experiment yourself, or check it out with your sponsor, or take it to wherever, or whoever you need to, but you will end up reaching for the bottle again—half measures availed us nothing. The problem with half measures is that they will get us drunk and for us, to pick up alcohol means insanity and death. I was working long hours and making more money than I could stack up, but I was living a lie. I knew that if I didn’t tell my secret to somebody, I would drink again and I wanted to stay sober more than anything in the world-it was a life or death choice and I had to make it. I decided to tell my sponsor Jim, but when I did, he called my wife and before I reached home-she knew everything I had told him in confidence. I learned from that experience, boy, did I ever learn.

If I would’ve done my will, I would’ve shot the bastard, but we’re supposed to be doing God’s will, not ours. By God’s Grace, love and tolerance prevailed, but my problem was now much worse. I was full of anger-rage, fear and resentment, without a design for living, or a sponsor. I was on my knees praying for a solution when one of the men I sponsor brought me a full set of Joe and Charlie tapes. I used the Joe and Charlie tapes to start a new group where we followed them with our Big Book and for the first time after listening to their tapes, I understood the Big Book and it’s design for living.

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