Group Of Drunks

As I made my way through the church doors to the AA meeting I wasn't sure I wanted what you had, but I was convinced beyond a doubt that I didn't want what I had.

The man who would become my first sponsor held out his hand when I introduced myself as a newcomer. "Some of us go to breakfast after the meeting. Why don't you come along?" I mumbled that I'd like to, but I had a lot to do that day. With a knowing smile he said, "I'm sure you do, Jeff, but why don't you come along anyways?"

I really didn’t want to go. The fear that kept me on the outside looking in throughout my life had morphed into chronic isolation. I hadn’t a clue about how to interact with others without a few drinks first. Besides, the men who surrounded me after the meeting in welcome seemed a little too happy, a little too up.

But the same unseen hand that guided me to AA nudged me to the breakfast. There was six or eight men altogether. I laughed for the first time in years. I remember driving home, caffeinated to the hilt, thinking “who are these people?” It didn’t take long to find out that these guys were a Group Of Drunks who shared a common problem and a common solution. All I need to join is a desire to quit drinking.

Moment of Clarity

“You have the emotional maturity of a thirteen year old, you don't have an ounce of humility in your whole body, and you brain is so cloudy from your drinking that you can’t hope to get any clarity on your life." After brutally taking my inventory, the therapist looked deep into my eyes. It felt like she was looking directly a my soul. After a few seconds she said, "you’re in trouble, aren't you Jeff?" I stalled for a few seconds, my ego fought against admitting anything was wrong. "Maybe, I whispered."

It turned out that this “maybe,” this slight admission of powerlessness, opened a tiny door to my HP. I was graced with a dose of truth about myself. For the first time I saw that every negative event in my life was connected to alcohol: the drunk driving arrests and nights in jail, flunking out of college, painful divorce, insane financial decisions, failed relationships, poor business judgments. Taken separately over my thirty year drinking career, these were just isolated incidences of bad luck that probably happened to everybody so I thought. But when I saw them altogether in one snapshot, the evidence was overwhelming. I experienced that moment of clarity that I believe every one of us must have if we are to stick in our program. I had finally discovered what was wrong with me.

A few days later I sat in the first group meeting at an outpatient treatment center with five or six other newcomers. I had just spent the last of my Visa credit to enroll. The short, rotund woman who ran the program, an ex-heroin addict from New York, was giving us the run-down. This woman had no tolerance for BS. She had a sign on her desk that read, “I go from zero to bitch in two seconds.” “This is an AA-based program,” she said. “To graduate you must attend at least three AA meetings every week.” Then she looked at me and said, “Except for you Jeff. Since you are unemployed, you are required to go to a meeting every day.” I burned with resentment about being singled out, but I didn't dare speak up. The requirement to go to a meeting every day turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me.