Experience, Strength and Hope
In 1982 I was working for a well known restaurant chain on the east coast of Florida. I worked the graveyard shift with one waitress. As long as I left her alone she left me alone.
The great thing about the graveyard shift was that I could drink all night long and no-one cared as long as I got my work done. I didn't worry about the general manager because she didn't come in until second shift. The assistant manager was no problem as long as I had the line set up and the prep work done. Yes, I can honestly say that I had the perfect set up.
There was only one problem. I would bring my bottles in with me. I would drink, get drunk, cook, get high with the customers and repeat the process. Along the way, I would hide my bottles. Some of them had booze in them and some didn't and there in lies the problem, I wouldn't always remember where I hid them.
For some reason my boss had no problem finding them. I got a call...in the middle of the day...from my boss.
She said she wanted to talk to me and would I mind coming in. Off I went at a good pace, I was walking, I only lived a couple of blocks away, and I didn't have a car. On the way I started thinking, this could be it, the promotion I was expecting was finally going to happen!
I walked in to the restaurant, a smile on my face. I got to the office and there, in all their glory, were 18, count em folks, 18 bottles of booze with varying degrees of liquor in them. The smile left my face and a curious little grin came across hers.
She asked me to sit down and we started talking about alcoholism. She asked me if I thought I had a problem with alcohol. I said, with all honesty, No. She said, "Do you think you might be an alcoholic?" To which I answered, "Why absolutely!" No words were ever truer.
What you have to understand at this point is that up until then, I had never been in trouble where alcohol was concerned. So, how did I know I was an alcoholic? Simple, I had relatives that, according to certain others of my family, were alcoholics. They were my heroes. One was a gangster wanted by the FBI. Another was just a funny fun uncle. They never just had a couple of drinks. They were always more or less drunk all the time. That's what I was...drunk all the time.
So,back to my boss, remember my boss? When I told her that I was an alcoholic, she in turn said, "I want you to go to AA. " What's AA I said. It's Alcoholics Anonymous she said. Right away my alcoholic brain began to churn. I thought, Alcoholics, more than one. Anonymous, secret. A secret drinking society! I told her absolutely I would go to AA! She smiled, I went home.
At this point, I need to tell you about my son. I will not tell you his name or anything personal about him. What I will tell you is that at this time he was 7 years old, he loved his old drunk of a dad and every so often he would hide my bottles. He, at his age, knew that I had a problem with alcohol.
6:30pm, my son taken care of, I began to drink. I was pretty drunk when I left for the AA meeting. By the time I got there, there was a sea of people and they all started coming up to me. They were shaking my hand, hugging me, telling me that I was welcome, I was looking for a drink. Remember, I thought this was a secret drinking society! But there was no booze! So, I surmised that they had gotten drunk before they came, you know, like I did. I sat through that meeting and I didn't get it. After the meeting they all stood up, held hands, and started to pray. Ladies and gentlemen, I have to tell you that I freaked the hell out! At that time in my life I was an atheist.
I came to my first three AA meetings drunk. The third night I brought a pint. An old man came up to me, shook my hand, and asked me if I thought I had a problem with alcohol? I told him no. Well, then why are you here? he asked. Because my boss said I had to come, said I.
Now, this old gentleman had 35 years of sobriety. He was also Jewish.
He asked me if I thought I could not drink for the next 24 hours and I said sure. He told me don't drink and come back tomorrow. This was the beginning of my first time being sober with the help of AA. I managed to stay sober or rather dry for 2 years, and I started drinking again.
For the next 30 plus years I would go in and out of AA.
I met my wife at an AA meeting and we were married 6 months later. We both ended up getting drunk.
During one of the times I was drinking, I got involved in some illegal activities and I got caught. My wife stood by me the whole time I was locked up. Four years later I got out. When I got home three things happened, 1. We made love. 2. I got drunk. And 3. I blacked out. The next day my wife, crying, made me promise that I wouldn't get high or drink ever again. I loved this wonderful woman with every fiber of my being. I promised, and I stayed dry and miserable for 13 years.
My wife became ill and I had to take care of her. For two years I had to take care of her as I would a helpless baby. On March 16th 2013 at 10:10am she breathed her last breath into my mouth as I kissed her goodbye.
She was gone. I was devastated. I didn't know what to do. So I got drunk and I didn't draw a sober breath for the next 4 years.
The end had come. I was trying to drink myself to death and I ran out of money and got put out on the street. I started going through alcoholic withdrawal. I began to shake, then the hallucinations started and I lost...my mind...my body...my soul.
Someone got me to the V.A. I don't know who it was to this day. They, the doctor and the nurses didn't think I would live through the night. But I did. They admitted me on January 15 2017. I came too, January 17th 2017. I had been committed to the psychiatric ward, at the VA hospital at Jefferson Barracks.
I was locked down for 3 weeks. A very nice woman came in and offered me and two others a chance to go through the SATOP program. This was a 15 day intensive alcohol and drug rehabilitation program. I knew that if I didn't do something now, if I got out without some kind of help, I would be dead in a week. I accepted the offer. I was out of options, out of time and most importantly I was at the point of desperation, and that I was WILLING TO DO ANYTHING!
During the 15 days, I was given another opportunity, and that was to go to another VA hospital and go through a 4 month treatment program. I was accepted and after the 15 days I was off to Leavenworth, Kansas.
Two months into the program, I was sitting on my bed and wondering what I was going to do. All my bridges were burnt, I had no plans or a place to go. This was a Monday morning. By Monday night I was on my way to the first AA meeting that I had been to in years. I went there to one end, to get a sponsor and to do whatever it took to get and stay sober.
After the meeting I asked a man to be my sponsor. He has been my sponsor ever since.
We started to work the Steps together and I did whatever he told me to do.
I got out of the Domicilary and moved in to my apartment. I have been here since. I bought a bycicle for transportation and I still have it. I ride my bike to an AA meeting every night.
Today, at this writing, I have been sober for two years and eight months. My life has changed for the better. I couldn't ask for a more blessed, abundant, peaceful and wonderful life!
Because of my God, my sponsor, the Steps, and the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous, I am alive and I am Happy, Joyous and Free!
I hope that whoever reads this account of my road to recovery, will be able to identify with it.
Come and join us!
Yours Very Truly
A member of Alcoholics Anonymous