Wednesday, June 24, 2009




There are those, too, who suffer from
grave emotional and mental disorders,
but many of them do recover,
if they have the capacity to be honest.
Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 58

About eight months ago, a young fellow, Brady, showed up at our early morning group, and he was decidedly "out of it". He was no more in or even near to reality than a cinder. It was obvious that his brain had been slo-baked over time, maybe a dozen years of time.

He kept to himself, spoke to no one, just sat in his chair wearing a painted, shit-eating grin on his face. His stare resembled that of a blind guy selling pencils on a street corner. Difficult to befriend, many of us--me included--sort of, well, I gave up on him. He would hence be tolerated, if only to sit quietly at this meeting for four years, or forty years.

Funny, he'd stand around outside the club before the meetings, just waiting for someone to say something to him. Anyone who tried was met with a completely blank stare of non-recognition.

Enter another guy, Joe. Joe was/is a very sick person also, diagnosed with severe depression, and so Joe had/has all the baggage which is required to battle his own illnesses other than alcoholism. Somehow, Joe found himself facing Brady alone in the smoking area. And somehow, that spark--of which only God could be the Author, the Creator--zapped between the two men, and a common ground for communication was instantly established.

Joe taught with a gentle firmness, with a compassion known only to a sick person who is helping another sick one. One day everyone was met at the door by Brady, who held his outstretched hand close to his belt line, and said feebly, "What's new?" Joe said this to at least eighty people that first morning, He repeated the saying, "What's new?" for twenty-nine mornings after.

Beginning the second month of Brady's evident sobriety--he did not receive a chip--another short phrase had been introduced by Joe. Brady now uttered "How's it goin'?" to approximately eighty people for thirty days, as he stood near the front door.

At the beginning of month number three, Brady began his line with, "Are ya hangin' in there?" At the end of month three, Brady stepped up to receive his 90-Day sobriety chip.

I began daily standing near to where Brady stood. Would you believe I caught him exchanging words--not many!--with some of those arriving to attend the AA meeting? Brady was holding a thought, and forging a snippet of conversation from that gymnastic of his mind. His "sponsor" Joe, we could all tell, looked so proud.

During successive following months the words became, "Go to meetings, and don't drink!"...."Take the Steps, but don't die on Third!".... "Go get 'em, Tiger!" It became clear that Brady was not drugging or drinking, that he was in our wonderful fellowship for the long haul--to stay sober.

And I got to witness the care, compassion, and love of one man, one human for another. I achieved some understanding of the phrase, "We will love you back to health."

Please do not let it pass you by that it was not I who befriended Brady. It was another man, fairly new, who also suffers from a disease other than alcoholism. And I saw God work in the lives of the giver (Joe) and him who received (Brady).

Next time it WILL be me who is on the front line of the encounter, the happening.
Of course, Brady is still a very sick man. I do hear him occasionally share at meetings, and he uses my poem, "Short and sweet, Is hard to beat."

And now...and NOW...


Probably everyone but me knew this (actually, I knew it -grin!). The oft-quoted line, "He leadeth me beside the still waters" alludes to the fact that sheep will not drink from running streams.

(No more questions will be entertained at this time!)

Love, love, love, and Peace to you bloggers, from
Steve E


garden-variety drunk said...

it's amazing how helps comes in all sorts of forms. i'm amazed by G-d's economy. my introduction to AA came from a fellow inpatient in the psych ward who was sober 2 years and carried the message to me.

Sierra Wolf said...

I didn't know that. I would think that running water would be fresher and healthier - Go figure - sheep are weird.

Eli said...

Beautiful story, Steve. Learning to deal with the "tough cases" in AA has been one of the group's many gifts to me. I am constantly being taught to see the potential and worth of the worst looking people in the room. They repeatedly surprise me and remind me not to be judgmental.

Lou said...

I have a similar story, a girl who first came to meetings clutching a stuffed animal. She never talked and hung in the back of the room. I thought she was a lost cause, but my sponsor gently started befriending her.

Slowly her horrific story of abuse came out--from her own lips when she shared after about 7 months. She has come so far, it has been a miracle to witness.

Andrew said...

Such a privilege to witness a joining like Joe and Brady experienced. And to get the message from it.


Gin said...

That is an absolutely beautiful story Steve. The kindness of another human being brought the human in him. Lovely.

G-Man said...

Great Story!!!

Sheep are stupid, so I wouldn't make them no nevermind..,.

Shadow said...

how touching. and yes, we do 'learn' better with those with whom we bond...

Prayer Girl said...

God's grace working through people who had been lost and then were saved to help others who are lost is the miracle of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Great story!


Anonymous said...

This is just beautiful, Steve. I needed to hear an uplifting message today and your's did it!

Ed G. said...

The single biggest blessing I get from meetings is seeing what you describe over and over and over again...

You related it well...

Blessings and aloha...

Syd said...

Thank goodness for the Joes and for the Bradys who relate to each other in ways that only God could orchestrate. What an uplifting story today Steve. I love how the program works.

Steve E. said...

Bloggers, thank you LOTS for your comments. Truly I thought this was a somewhat weak story, not "well-put-together"...but you helped me "see" things I probably had not recognized in this description of "one alcoholic helping another".

Thank you again! Blessings! And Peace!

wolfie185 said...

Thanks Steve, it wasn't weak at all, it was beautiful. It really reminds me of not giving up and trusting God, sometimes we think someone isn't going to make it, then a Joe comes along. I had a sponsee tell me last night he had been slamming dope over the weekend, I sent him to an NA meeting because I am primarily a drunk and needles weren't my thing. He came over after the meeting we talked and I gave him a few suggestions but also at the NA meeting one of my good friends took the guy outside and had a good talk with him and the sponsee took what both of us said to heart. See I didn't know if the NA meeting would help him at the time but knew I couldn't, so I put my in trust God and sent him that way and he was helped.

mile191 said...

lost and saved...hmmm, something to think about. I am just me today, feeling thankful for friendships that have helped me to have hope and to see good in each day...thanks, thank you, mile.

Ann H. said...

That's a great story.

Cat said...

I really like your stories Stevearoni...

I try to look for signs from all over the place when I know I am in need of help and more often than not - god puts someone in my path.

Gabriella Moonlight said...

Amazing post and you know what it's okay that it wasn't you it gave Joe that person he could talk to with his heart! What a miracle this program is for so many!
Thank you Steve!

Carol said...

So, let me see if I have this straight. Brady was a sheep and needed the water to slow down . . . just being a wise-ass. I loved your whole post.

Mike Golch said...

good posting.

Robin said...

Nice story.
Could it be that in still water you can see better if a croc or jellyfish aproaches?
What do you mean by no more questions will be entertained at this time? Don't you answer questions anymore or is it about a special subject you don't answer them?

Steve E. said...

Robin, this is the only way I can respond...that "no more questions" thing is sort of my own private joke...in other words, if someone wants to know the validation of my trivia, I am not responsible, for example.

I get it from a reliable source, which I usually mention, but forget sometimes.

Glad you drop by, wish you'd leave a contact, or write a blog yourself, or something???

Thanks for commenting. And PEACE!
Steve E
Naples, FL

Robin said...

Hi Steve,
Thank you for reacting.
I am almost ready to start my blog! (I will not write everyday).
See you!
Robin (my name will be in the name of the blog)

Steve E. said...

My gosh, Robin--nobody has to blog every day, I just enjoy it so much. besides I never got to write anything in my life, and here people actuall READ this stuff. I'm ever surprised!

Some things you may not wish to hear:

1. If you are an Alkie, or Alanon, I strongly suggest you use only your first name.

2. No full-face pics or photos of you.

3. If you are not an alcoholic or an addict, you may show whatever you wish (welllll...YOU know!) and you can certainly use your name or Email address, etc.

4. Probably ya want a generic email account, e.g., yahoo, or gmail or hotmail.

5. Some do not even let it be known where they live, but I do. At my age, who gives a RF?

6. Let me know if you have any questions--possibly you know all this stuff anyway, then don't read any further -grin!

7. When you're ready, I will link you on my blog, so you will get some readers, to whom who you can decide whether to respond or not, by reading their stuff, and commenting--or not.

8. I'll bet you've been doing this for ten years, and here I am, an 11-month "vet" trying to show you the ropes!

NMW (No Matter What) let me know when you DO post your first, I'd enjoy being the first "commentor" (it's and EGO thing -grin!)

Madison said...

I absolutely love your blog. Now I know why I've never seen sheep at the beach. God bless.

Robin said...

Hi Steve,

Double dipping I'm afraid.
If you want to contact me: rvinyard5@gmail.com