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"Promoted to Chronic"
B., New York.
(p. 485 in the 2nd edition, p. 464
in the 3rd edition.)
Lost Nearly All
career girl preferred solitary drinking, the blackout
kind, often hoping she'd stay that way for keeps. But
Providence had other ideas."
entered A.A. in New York in November of 1944, but had a
slip in 1945.
started drinking socially and at parties and proms when
she was about twenty years old. It made her feel quite grownup
and mature, and another added attraction was that as far
as her family was concerned it was forbidden.
she became dependent on it and became a daily drinker. Then
she had a week-long-bender of solitary drinking, locked
up a hotel room because her family opposed her coming marriage.
During that week the hotel doctor gave her sleeping pills
and she took the whole bottle. Only the actions of an alert
hotel maid saved her.
next five years were filled with fear, failure and frustration.
Her doctor had suggested to her husband that he send her
to A.A. but little was known about it then. The doctor said
it was a bunch of drunks who helped one another. Her husband
thought the last thing she needed was to be around a bunch
of drunks. She lost a child, her marriage ended and she
was living with her parents. She was in and out of sanitariums.
day her psychiatrist left Helen's case history on her desk
when she was called away from the room. Helen read it and
was delighted to see that "Periodic Drinker," had been crossed
out and the words "Chronic Alcoholic," substituted. She
thought this mean she was getting better.
in November of 1944, she went to A.A. "A.A. took this wreck
of a woman and brought her back to life."
sponsor was "a charming, delightful, lovely person," and
Helen put her on a pedestal. She centered her life on this
woman. Her sponsor recognized that she was depending on
her and not on the A.A. program, and began to pull away.
When she broke a luncheon date with Helen, she got drunk
to punish her. That was February of 1945, and Helen was
sent back to the sanitarium in which she had been so often.
hospitalized, Helen realized that she had not been basing
her sobriety on the book, or the group, or the Higher Power,
but on an individual. She started really working the program
and never drank again.
December of 1949, Helen became a senior staff member at
the New York office, where she recommended Nell Wing to
work as Bill's secretary. She had previously worked for
the Boston Central Service Office of A.A.
proved of tremendous help to Bill W., especially in promoting
the Traditions and the Conference idea to the Fellowship,
and in organizing the General Service Conference. She served
as secretary of the first two Conferences. Helen also worked
closely with Bill on the booklet called "The Third Legacy."
Bill said of her in Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, "Helen
B. of the office staff had a real flair for statesmanship
in the best sense of the word, and she understood practical
politics too. Her assistance throughout proved invaluable."
March 1955, she resigned to be married, and moved to Texas.
about Helen is from "Grateful to Have Been There," by Nell
Wing, Parkside Publishing Corporation, and an unpublished
history of A.A.'s first fifty years by Bob P.