Thiry-Four Years Ago
MY PRAYER: My God, I am so grateful to You for this gift of sobriety, this gift which has allowed me to be another of those who can proclaim to any who will listen, Your LOVE, Your KINDNESS, Your PATIENCE, Your FRIENDSHIP, Your OMNIPOTENCE!
Following are some thoughts on my first 24 hours of sobriety, after sinking progressively for nearly twenty-five years into the alcoholic abyss of total self-centeredness, fear, paranoia, and alcoholic insanity.
Five minutes before midnight on Monday March 18, 1974, I had my last and final drink of alcohol. At that moment I was given an opportunity available to many, but which comparatively few have accepted. That is, the chance to begin a second life, to be one of you--that unique minority of humans who are fortunate enough to be given that second break, that gift, and receive the chance to live two complete and distinct lives in one lifetime.
Tuesday March 19, 1974 8:30 PM:
It was very dark that night (or so it seemed to me!) when I walked for the first time into an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting at Trinity-By-The-Cove Church, in Port Royal, into what was called then (and still is) "The Naples Group". Being "fashionably" five minutes late, I was thinking, "DUMB, Steve--look what you've done now. This is the stupidest move...you must REALLY have gone completely mad! I expected to sneak quietly into the room, sit, shake, and sweat (the three s's?) in the back, and figure out "How am I going to get out of *this* predicament?" All I needed was a few drinks to get me back to normal. Remember...I had my last drink just 20 hours before. (Yes, at 8:30 PM I had that "desire to stop drinking"--maybe until 9:30 PM?) Yes, I certainly was willing to do ANYTHING to have a better life--anything......except stop drinking! ("If ya wanna stop drinking...well, stop drinking", they used to say!)
Well, a fellow came walking fast, out into the parking lot, out from that meeting, almost falling down the few steps, to greet me, saying, "I'm Jim ...welcome." Then, no questions being asked or answered, he proceeded to guide me into the meeting room, right past/through everyone. I, as unobtrusively as possible, bumped into a couple old, old =grin= fellows, fell across a couple chairs and an old lady on the way to--guess where?--the door all the way at the other end of the room! So, already, I was ushered "in and out" of AA in 60 seconds.
Outside, he herded me across a small courtyard, into a smaller, very smoky, very crowded room, called the "Beginner's Room". How did they happen to know? This meeting was chaired by Bruce G., (who claims he remembers me from that night?) and the topic was Steps One, Two, and Three. Thank God, when I arrived, they were already on Step TWO! (I calculated that a third of the meeting must already be history!) Because all I wanted to do was get out of there. Not one memorable--to me--thought came out of that meeting, except those words which they all said at the end, not to me, of course! , but to each other, "Don't drink" and "Come back next week." (By the way, that's exactly what I did.)
Many in this room are able to tell you the "REST OF THE STORY", because we are all so much alike. So if some of you newer folks wish to hear the "rest of the story" you'll have to "Come back next week!"
Steve E. --written July 4, 2008, 34+ years of staying sober One Day At A Time.