…40 years ago today.
At about 10:00 o’clock in the morning, I got into a disagreement with “Atlanta’s Finest”. – After a lengthy discussion, (and a little physicality), I finally got into their police cruiser, and they took me to Atlanta City Jail. THEN… they REALLY ‘splaind’ it to me, Lucy… That was a Friday, and coincidentally, the day I took my last drink of alcohol.
On the following TUESDAY, I came out of my baton-induced coma, in a jail cell… and realized (it helps your ‘clearer thinking’ to be without alcohol for 4 or 5 days), that I was probably going to die, (from alcoholism.) This is no joke, I REALLY DID get down on my knees in that jail cell and ENTREATED (begged) God to help me. (There’s a difference between ‘asking’ and ‘begging’.)
As Johnny Carson used to say, “I kid you not”… while I was still begging, a ‘white-mist’ came into that jail cell; a lot like what you see when you open the door to a ‘steam-room’. That mist… whirled around… then “presto-snappo”; hey, I knew I was different. It could have been the “D-Ts”, right? – I agree… maybe… I DID have them on and off; (if you’ve never seen snakes crawling on your ceiling, or out of the phone, you haven’t lived.) But somehow or other, when you’re in the presence of a ‘Deity’, you almost always know it. Even to a still drunk brain like mine, I somehow or other heard that old refrain, “Amazing Grace”, – ‘When He reached down and saved a wretch like me.” (It’s STILL one of my favorite songs, I’m actually humming it right now as my eyes get blurry.)
Okay, so I got out of that jail cell, and started going to A.A. – I went to two meetings a day for the first five years. I celebrated my 1st A.A. birthday back in Atlanta, and thought it was the grandest thing that ever happened to me. Number ‘2’, came next, then 3 thru 4, and so on. – When I got to my 10th, I ‘took note’… that was the first time I was ever sober longer than I was drunk (which was 9 years.)
15 years came, so did 20, 30 (it was VERY memorable), then 35… and now today. “Who would have thunk?” “Right?” — Just so you know, only 20% of alcoholics actually recover. That means the other 80% DIE! (or become ‘institutionalized’, like prison, or asylums.) – Alcoholism claims 500 doctors a year, 30% of the airline pilots who take off… are legally drunk when they do it. – Alcohol, itself, as a drug… is a toxin to the body. That beer, that casual glass of wine… you drink on a pleasant afternoon contains more than an ounce of ETHANOL. – You can run cars on ethanol. That’s what they put in ‘dragsters’ at the drag-strip. – The point being here is that you don’t have to actually become a roaring drunk to feel the debilitating effects of alcohol on the body. That’s worth thinking about.
So what happened, right? – Hey, I haven’t had any form of alcohol in 40 years. But, you know what’s even more important?, — “A.A.” teaches the alcoholic how to have a successful life. Not just financially, but on every plain; health / serenity / ‘wholesomeness’, good-humor, ‘gratitude’, having a ‘spirit-filled-life’, joy, mirth, serenity… I could go on and on about the ‘gifts’ of A.A. – I’ve summed it up before by saying: A.A. is about 10% of how to stop drinking, and about 90% of how to live a successful life.
Well, there have certainly been “the vicissitudes of life” along the way. Was it a 45-degree, straight ‘trend-line’? – No. On the other hand, it WAS an upward trend-line. In A.A. we don’t claim perfection; we try to make ‘progress’ each day. Progress on all fronts, health, wealth, happiness, serenity.
Anyway, I know I’m ‘preaching’ here, and I’m gonna stop. I just wanted to reach out to you-all today and share my happiness with you. I also wanted to help you understand that if you have a problem with alcohol (or drugs) — OR… if you have a family-member, friend, ‘associate’, even an ‘acquaintance’… let them know…. that YOU KNOW… at least one alcoholic who was pretty sure he was gonna die from alcohol. And then, add this: “Ya know, BECAUSE OF A.A., he hasn’t had a drink in 40 years… then, put in… “Maybe you can find some help in A.A. too.”
(Preaching again, Right?, I know, I know… I’ll stop)
Hey, “Joy and goodwill to you folks today”, — forty years ago today the Universe change for me, and I’m better off for it. (You are too, by the way.)