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"Freedom From Bondage"
C. L., California.
553, 2nd edition, p. 544 3rd edition, p. 544 4th edition.)
Lost Nearly All
when she joined, this A.A. believes her serious drinking
was the result of even deeper defects. She here tells
how she was set free."
joined A.A. in California in 1947 at age thirty-three.
was described by the novelist, Carolyn See, one of her several
step children, as "tall, and with a face that was astonishing
in its beauty. She had "translucent skin with a tiny dusting
of freckles, Katharine Hepburn cheekbones, bright red hair,
and turquoise eyes." She was a "knockout."
believed that her alcoholism was a symptom of a deeper trouble,
and that her mental and emotional difficulties began many
years before she began to drink. But AA taught her that
she was the result of the way she reacted to what happened
to her as a child.
was born in Florida and, like Bill W. before her, her parents
separated when she was a child, and she was sent to live
with her grandparents in the Mid West. She reports feeling
"lonely, and terrified and hurt." (This common childhood
experience may have been one of the reasons for the reported
close friendship she had with Bill W.)
married and divorced four times before finding A.A. The
first time she married for financial security; her second
husband was a prominent bandleader and she sang with his
band; her third husband was an Army Captain she married
during World War II; her fourth husband was a widower, with
A.A. friend quipped when first hearing Wynn's story, that
she had always been a cinch for the program, for she had
always been interested in mankind, but was just taking them
one man at a time.
after 1955 when her story appeared in the Big Book, she
married her fifth husband, George L., another A.A. member.
George and Wynn were married for several years and his daughter
Caroline lived with them when they were first married. After
they were divorced, according to Caroline, she dated a wealthy
insurance executive whom she had hoped to marry.
and Wynn were a popular team speaking at meetings. "My dad
was Wynn's opening act," said Carolyn. "He couldn't help
but be funny. Then he would defer to Wynn, whose tale was
writes: "Wynn's mother had deserted her in order to go out
and live a selfish life. An unloving grandmother reared
her in strict poverty. She contracted typhoid fever and
hovered between life and death for about ninety days. All
her hair and (though she would not admit this) her teeth
recovered at about age sixteen. Her beautiful red hair grew
back in and she wore dentures "stuck in so firmly that no
one saw her without them." According to Caroline, "she began
carving out a career as a femme fatale, and started drinking
to bridge the gap between the grim hash-slinging reality
she was born to, and the golden mirage of American romance
she yearned for."
said in her story that she didn't know how to love. Fear
of rejection and its ensuring pain were not to be risked.
When she found alcohol it seemed to solve her problems -
for a time. But soon things fell apart and jails and hospitals
followed. When she wound up in a hospital for detoxification,
she began to take stock and realized she had lived with
no sense of social obligation or responsibility to her fellow
men. She was full of resentments and fears.
she wrote her story she had been in A.A. eight years and
her life had changed dramatically. She had not had a drink
since her first meeting, and had not only found a way to
live without having a drink, but a way to live without wanting
believed she had many spiritual experiences after coming
to the program, many that she didn't recognize right away,
"For I'm slow to learn and they take many guises."
the last page of her story Wynn says: "As another great
man says, 'The only real freedom a human being can ever
know is doing what you ought to do because you want to do
it.'" That "great man" may have been Bill W.
and Jack P. of Los Angeles started more than 80 meetings
in hospitals, jails and prisons in Southern California from
about 1947 to 1950. Jack P. reports that during this period
they were widely criticized by other members of the Fellowship
who thought this was not something A.A. should be doing.
can be said to have worked for my father and Wynn," wrote
Carolyn. "Although they would divorce, neither of them would
ever take a drink again."
died from lung cancer. Wynn, too, suffered from cancer and
when first diagnosed became very active in the American
comments: "Here's the other thing my father wanted, above
all else, to write. My first and second husbands wanted
above all else, to write. All I ever wanted was to write.
But guess who really got to be the writer? Who's the one
in our family, who has actually changed, improved, transformed
thousands of lives? The woman who wrote 'Freedom from Bondage'
under the section 'They Lost Nearly All' in the A.A. Big
Book. The girl who lost all her teeth from typhoid when
she was in her teens, who slung hash way up into her forties,
and who died a cruel death from cancer when she was way
too young. She couldn't have done it if she hadn't 'lost
date of Wynn's death is unknown, but she apparently died
in poverty. When her cancer returned, several years after
she had divorced George, she contacted Carolyn trying to
reach him because she needed financial help. Carolyn tried
to persuade her father to help Wynn. When he refused it
upset Carolyn who was genuinely fond of Wynn. Her last words
to Carolyn were "I've always loved you," and Carolyn believes
she truly did.
Personal communications with Carolyn See and her book: "Dreaming,
Hard Luck and Good Times in America," University of California