In 1980 I had hit what I thought was my bottom. Drinking every day, angry at the world and miserable to my family. After a half hearted suicide attempt, I knew I didn’t really want to die but also knew I did not want to live the way I was living. I talked to my boss at work and he suggested going to AA. I looked up AA in the phone book. Of course I had to pick one eight towns over from my Delaware County, PA home as I did not want anyone to know I had a drinking problem. As it turned out, the meeting I went to was very large, over fifty people and I thought this was great as I could hide in the crowd.
I continued to go to this meeting and other large meetings, always sitting in the back and never really getting involved. I thought, all you have to do is attend meetings and not drink. I did this for eleven years, which I now call my long dry drunk. I did not change. I did not get a sponsor and, most importantly, I did not work the steps.
In July of 1991 I was on a business trip and at lunch everyone was drinking wine. I had been a bourbon/scotch/rye/gin/vodka drinker, you know, anything with a lot of alcohol. My disease said I could have a glass of wine as it did not have the alcohol content I used to drink. Later that evening I was at the hotel bar back to the real stuff.
Six months later, I was drinking a half gallon of whatever had the highest alcohol content every day. And then, another try at suicide. Then again, another search for AA meetings. My Higher Power was always with me, but I did not know it at the time. He directed me to a Big Book meeting in Wenonah, NJ where I met a great bunch of guys who lived and worked the 12 Steps. I found my sponsor there and he guided me through the first 3 steps. He moved away and I found another good sponsor, who guided me through the remaining nine steps.
I wish I could say that my life has been pain free since that time in 1991 but, life happens. Twelve years into sobriety my wife of forty years passed away. My son was sent to prison and my daughters, for whatever reasons they have, do not want contact with me. But, I have not picked up a drink. AA has taught me that none of us will leave this world without some loss or tragedy. The important thing is that we don’t pick up that drink. As an alcoholic, a drink is not an option. Today I am a sober, recovering alcoholic, not a dry one. And still working on my character defects.