This week’s HTYH is the beginning of Cindy’s story: My sobriety date is January 6, 1986 and my home group is the Monday night 12 Steps & 12 Traditions meeting, that’s held in the basement of the Waynedale United Methodist Church in Fort Wayne, IN at 7:00 PM (including all holidays).

I’m so grateful that the highest rank we have in Alcoholics Anonymous is “trusted servant” and that’s what I am–a trusted servant. Being sober is a magnificent gift and to have remained continuously sober from the first time I came to Alcoholics Anonymous amazes me. I give all credit to a God of my understanding, Alcoholics Anonymous and the people in AA who loved me until I learned to love myself.

The textbook of Alcoholics Anonymous instructs me to tell you what my life was like, what happened and what it’s like today and I will follow those instructions to the best of my ability. I came from the west side of Fort Wayne, IN. It was country living and it was good. I had a Mom and Dad, brothers and sisters, cats and dogs, and I was happy there. It was small town living. We knew everybody’s parents and I attended a Catholic school—I loved it because it was protected. I fit in there and as a child I felt like a winner—I felt loved and special. There were a lot of sports played there and I thought that I would grow up to be an athlete, a coach and a teacher. In that protected environment, I believed there were all sorts of good things waiting for me in the future.

There were many nuns in our school and some of them, I didn’t want to tangle with, but most of them were like the “Sound Of Music” nuns, and all of us kids wanted to hold their hands when they walked across the parking lot. Sister Bernadette was my favorite and so many kids wanted to hold her hand that she didn’t have enough hands and if we couldn’t hold her hand we wanted to touch her. I came out of that school with an image of a hell, fire and damnation God, but that wasn’t what they said, it was what I heard. Most alcoholics have a perception problem and what we think we hear is not what was said.

After middle school I went to a public high school; from a protected setting to a public system that seemed like total chaos and everything changed—I didn’t handle it well. While I attended the Catholic School, I felt loved, protected and like a winner, but after I entered a public school, I fell apart—the world was a blue suit and I was a pair of brown shoes. I wanted to fit in at any cost so I started scrambling to find friends, and the friends I found were all about partying–they were the ones who accepted me. Although I never realized it then, I started qualifying myself for a membership in Alcoholics Anonymous. The very first time I went drinking with my new friends I lied—I lied to my parents. We drove around and drank beer. I hated the taste of alcohol, but I was there and where I was not supposed to be. The second time out, we stole the beer. It was warm and it tasted terrible, but we drank it anyway. You hear about people crossing the line into alcoholism but I flew over it. I became a liar, cheat and a thief during my first year of high school and everything good in my life went right out the window. My plans of coaching and teaching along with all of my other expectations, and dreams took a back seat to alcohol. My priorities suddenly changed. Sports took too much time and I thought alcohol was more fun. I was having fun and everything was funny. I took a drink, the drink took a drink, and the drink took me. Boy-oh-boy, can I ever relate to that saying—it became me.

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