My name is John and I’m an alcoholic. Sober by the grace of God, the application of the 12 Steps and the fellowship of the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, I haven’t found it necessary to take a drink since July 22, 1978.
The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous makes promises on pages 83 and 84. At the New Year, let’s see how these promises are coming true. We can all take inventory of these promises.
My drinking got me kicked out of school; it got me into trouble with the law; I was put on probation; I was court ordered to counseling and I was fighting constantly with my parents. I hated what I was doing to them and I loathed what I was doing to myself, but I didn’t know how to stop. I finally got honest with my probation officer one day and she suggested I go to a Young Peoples A.A. meeting.
There is a Woody Allen saying that is often misquoted as “90 percent of life is just showing up.” What he actually said was "Showing up is 80 percent of life. Sometimes it’s easier to hide home in bed. I’ve done both.” (New York Times, August 21, 1977). I find that showing up is terribly important, because for me it has been difficult.
We all know that addiction, whether to alcohol or other drugs, is brutal. Not everyone is sure that, in recovery, we get better. I believe that we can all get better in recovery. Life gets better for the alcoholic and addict who embraces Twelve Step recovery. Life also gets better for those who leave behind the alcoholic and addict who chooses not to recover, and seeks their own recovery.
Most people ask this at some point in their lives. I started out confused. I came from a crazy, violent alcoholic family in the 1950’s that also had upper middle class Republican Party professional values. I was expected to do well in school, go to college and graduate school, have a profession and be a success. I was also torn to shreds, physically and emotionally for any real or imaginary flaw. I drank and drugged every hour of every day from age 10 to age 40. Thirty years of struggle to be somebody. I collected an education and a profession, one confused academic credit at a time. Then I got sober and suddenly, I was fully conscious. Now, what?
I would like to share some of my thoughts on the long tradition of cooperation that the U.S. Armed Forces have enjoyed with Alcoholics Anonymous. As you probably know, the program of AA was co-founded by a former WWI Field Artillery officer of the U.S. Army - Lt. Bill Wilson. I have often wondered how Bill's war time experiences may have intensified his alcoholism and his subsequent recovery therefrom. If you doubt that WWI had a profound affect on Bill, you need only look at the first word of the first chapter of the Big Book - "War fever ran high..."