While practicing my alcoholism, everything was about me first. AA taught me to think about God first, others second and myself last and suddenly, happiness and serenity began to replace loneliness and fear. I didn’t understand it, but life was so much better than it was that I gladly accepted it.

Not every day was sunshine and roses but life was better than it was and I had some new AA tools that allowed me to survive the hard days without picking up any alcohol or, drugs. I was able to see that no problem, big or small, could get any better if I used again. When I was 10 years sober my father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It was so hard to watch the cancer take him from us and, I didn’t do everything right, but I was the one my mother called when it was time for his passing.

My parents unconditionally loved me and they stuck with me through all the days of my life. They supported me during the dark days and celebrated recovery with me too. They didn’t understand alcoholism, but they encouraged me to keep going to the AA meetings and doing what I was doing. They saw AA working in my life and they didn’t have to understand it.

One of the things I am most grateful for was that last night in the hospital room with my Dad. I thanked him for all the wheel barrel rides, his laughter, love, and his hugs and for being my greatest teacher. If I had still been practicing my alcoholism, I would not have been there, I would’ve been boo-hooing in my beer feeling sorry for myself, poor me, pour me another drink. AA freely gave me everything that I have and my happiness is a by-product of my sobriety, but that last night with my Dad was especially priceless.

I stayed sober and worked at a place for 20 years and thought that I would retire from there, but the owners sold the business and it closed. That was hard and I was extremely bitter, but because of Alcoholics Anonymous, I survived it sober and continued to do my daily actions—until that job became a distant, unimportant, memory.

When Doug called and ask me to speak, I tried to get out of it. My magic magnifying mind came up with all sorts of reasons why I couldn’t do it, but this is exactly where I needed to be tonight. If AA works for me it will surely work for you too and if I want to stay sober and help others that means never saying no, to AA. Freely given and freely received is what I found in AA and I owe it to all of you to ensure that it remains that way. I hope somebody out there hears something they needed to hear and if I humbly removed my ego and let God do the speaking, I am comforted that this AA experience will indeed help others as much as it helped me to come here—the hospitality was outstanding and we have enjoyed something very special together.

Before I drove over here, I stopped at my mother’s house—the woman who I tortured for so many years, she made us a cup of coffee and we talked and laughed and at 83 years of age she held my face in her hands and said, “You are my best helper, have a safe journey.” Yes indeed, journey, my years on this AA journey have given me everything but especially its given me a relationship with a God whose dreams are bigger than mine and I never have to be alone, ever again—hopelessness, fear, resentment, dishonesty and darkness are in my past and every new day makes my future a vision of hope. God loves you and so do I, and thank you for sharing this AA evening with me…May the God of your understanding add His blessings to mine. I pass…

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