By Don B.
I was guided into AA in 1981 by my higher power, whom I refer to as “Linda”, my wife. After watching a soap opera devoted to alcoholics and AA, she concluded that I was one of them. Since her ultimatums were not to my liking, I chose to attend a meeting.
There were some nice old guys there who were friendly, and didn’t seem to be harmful, so I went along with them – for a while. I quit drinking, and quit smoking pot. My addiction was stronger than I realized, however, and before long, I was back with both drinking and using, only more of each. This strange relationship with AA went on for more than 20 years, with me picking up a truck load of white chips, but not being successful. The simple fact was that I would not admit to myself that I was an alcoholic and a drug addict.
I was a retired Air Force Captain, having served in occupied Germany and at the height of the Vietnam war (that’s where I learned to use drugs). My inflated pride and ego would not let me accept the idea of “surrender” or “defeat” even though I was spiraling out of control. My mantra was, “I can quit anytime I want; I just don’t want to.”
I was an instructor at a technical college, a job that I loved dearly, but in order to attend my morning classes I had to stop each morning at the liquor store, on my way to the school, and buy a pint or half pint of vodka, and take several swigs from the bottle to stop the shakes. This went on for months, and I decided that I really shouldn’t be doing this and that I should stop my morning trips to the liquor store. I couldn’t stop.
AA had really screwed up my drinking, however.
Every time I took a drink, I heard those harmless old guys talking about being clean and sober. What a bummer. As hard as I tried, as much as I wanted to, I could not stop drinking or using! The inevitable finally happened. On the morning of November 28th, 2002, I made my normal stop at the liquor store. I took the bottle of vodka to the car, sat it down on the seat, unopened, and it was as though I was struck by lightning. It finally hit me: I was powerless over alcohol and drugs! I was just like those pleasant little old guys at the AA! I was a damn alcoholic and a drug addict, and I couldn’t stop drinking or using. Not alone, and I knew it. On November 29th, 2002, I went to the 12:30 meeting and picked up a white chip. I haven’t drank or used since (I just picked up my 13 year medallion).
The major reason that I haven’t drank or used again is that I finally made that fateful admission: That I was indeed an alcoholic and a drug addict. I was was totally honest with myself, and with others. It was the first time ever that I admitted defeat, and as corny as it might sound, the paradox happened – through defeat, through absolute surrender, I attained victory.
I have not forgotten that terrifying, but wonderful moment. It is right there in the forefront of my consciousness, and I want it to remain there.
Without question, these past 13 years have been the best years of my life. I just turned 79, and my health is starting to show it, but my hope, my objective is that when I die, my name goes on the plaque at our meeting hall, which contains the names of our group members who died soberly. If my name shows up there, I will have lived and died soberly.
And admitting defeat will have been the most important victory of my life.
WHAT A JOY!