Escaping the Pig Pen

I love the story in the other big book called the Prodigal Son. It’s the story of a young man who took his inheritance and wandered away from the father’s house. He went out into the world in pursuit of wine, women and song. After he squandered his inheritance he slept in the pig pen. He ate what the pigs left behind. As the story goes, he “came to himself” and remembered his father’s comfortable house. He realized that even his father’s servants had a nice warm bed and plenty to eat. He got up out of the pig pen and made his way home. His father saw him coming and ran out to greet him. This is my story.

People share in meetings that alcohol stopped working for them. That’s not what it was like for me. I could still get drunk all right, but the fun was gone. Toward the end drinking was just medicine for me. I went through the motions, but in truth I was living in the land of the half-dead in almost complete isolation in my dirty messy apartment. I was getting drunk twice a day, but I couldn’t see drinking was a problem for me. I needed to drink. Not having a job was the problem. I awoke every morning with an ache of fear in my gut.

My moment of clarity came when I sought help from a therapist. After I whined about my life for thirty minutes she took my inventory. Her exact words were, “From what I know about you Jeff, you don’t have an ounce of humility in your whole body, you have the emotional maturity of a thirteen year old and your mind is so cloudy from your daily drinking you cannot hope to get any clarity on your life.” She looked deeply into my eyes and said, “you’re in trouble, aren’t you Jeff?” My ego screamed not to admit anything, finally I whispered “Maybe.” Unknowingly I had worked the first step. I walked into my first AA meeting six days later.

During the last twenty years my whole attitude and outlook have changed, just like the promise in our book. Somewhere along the line I began to enjoy working with other alcoholics more than building up my 401 K Plan. Today my life feels useful and content. I feel abundant. I never had these feelings even when I was at the top of my game. I have never tried half measures because a whole new life has opened up for me and I don’t want to lose it. Besides, I saw plenty of evidence to know what happens to those who don’t fully commit to our simple program.

As I continue my journey back home to my father’s house, I am filled with gratitude for the blessing of alcoholism. If I didn’t have a disease that was killing me, I might still be eating what the pigs left behind.