| print this
was drinking to hold on to his job, to hold on to
his wife, to hold on to his sanity. Finally he was
drinking to keep away those little men and those
strange voices, and the organ music that came out of
FORTUNATE because I live in an era when A.A. is available,
and I'm able to take advantage of it. I'm grateful because
that Higher Power led me to A.A. a little over three
years ago, when I needed it very badly. My drinking
pattern isn't very different from the average you find
in A.A. After I came in I found I wasn't an exceptional
drunk. I used to think I was. I also thought I was a
brilliant drunk. I have my brilliant moments yet, but
whenever the boys catch me at it they tell me so very
When we first come
into A.A., many of us are confused because as a general
rule we're at the end of our respective ropes, and we
don't know what to do. It's like the fellow who came
in A.A., and his sponsor said to him, "Listen,
buddy, do you believe in a Higher Power?" And the
guy said, "Heck, yes, I been married to her for
years!" Yes, we find it rather confusing, but as
we get around and get to know people in the group, they
lead the way and all we have to do is to follow.
I started drinking
rather early, at the age of sixteen. I didn't stick
at social drinking very long. As I pro-
and gained in capacity, I had blackouts. At first they
were rather amusing, but a little later on they became
serious. And so I got to the swearing off process. That
and the morning drink came very early in my drinking
A former employer
of mine said to me a little over ten years ago, "Pat,
you seem to be one of those unfortunate people who at
least once every six months must go out and roll in
the gutter." That stuck with me for a long time.
It was a thorn in my side, because I knew it was the
truth, and I hated to hear the truth, especially about
myself. So that pattern continued until I went into
The Army drinking
alone covered a lot of territory. Like many of us who
went into the service, I thought it would be a cure-all,
a new life. But I came out of the Army just as big a
drunk as when I went in, if not worse, because now I
had a lot more resentments. I remember coming up the
Bay in to New York. It was my second arrival in New
York. The first had been as a youngster coming out from
Ireland. There was a great deal of difference. A lot
of the boys had tears in their eyes, they were so happy
to be home. For me, it was a little different because
I couldn't help thinking about the past, and I saw the
future more or less mirrored in the past. It wasn't
pretty. Somehow or other I was coming face to face with
myself, and I didn't like it. When I landed of course
I hit a gin mill, and with three or four good shots
under my belt the world began to go into that rosy glow.
I got married to
the girl I'd left behind. She certainly wasn't in the
dark about my drinking. She had been warned numerous
times, not only by her family
by my own mother, that I was a hopeless drunk, that
there wasn't anything anybody could do with me, that
I'd never stop, and that eventually I'd break her heart.
However, she had faith and she had hope, (things I didn't
have). We were married, and during the first nine months
of that marriage I was sober. I was trying for her sake.
But at the end of nine months we went to a party one
night, and I took the first drink. No one had ever told
me it was the first drink that did the damage. And I
was off again.
The old pattern
reasserted itself, but it was no longer once every six
months. The intervals grew shorter. The binges were
longer. They were harder to get off. I wasn't the type
that could taper off. I had to stop cold. My last binge
followed the previous one by two weeks. I had just come
off a good one, and I went back on to the next one.
That type of drinking
is not pleasant. It is no longer enjoyable. You no longer
get the kicks. It is desperation drinking. I was drinking
to keep away the shakes, drinking to keep away those
little men and those strange voices and the organ music
that comes out of the walls. I was drinking to try to
hold on to a job, to try and hold on to my home, to
try to hold on to my wife, to try to hold on to my sanity.
I had a habit of
getting up just prior to the closing time of the saloons,
about two or three o'clock in the morning. I'd get downstairs
to the gin mill, get enough in to hold me until eight
o'clock in the morning, then I'd go out and join that
"misery parade" that so many of us know so
well. You hit the street about ten minutes to eight,
and you walk around the block,
knows how many times, waiting for that joint to open.
One morning I didn't
wake up until after four o'clock. I wasn't a happy man
that morning, but I'm happy now that it came about.
Because as I sat on that bed, I knew that I was in a
terrible spot and didn't know how to get out of it.
The realization came to me that I had to stop
drinking, that I had to find a way. Either
that or end my life. That thought had come to me many,
many times. I was afraid that sometime I would get half
drunk and go through with it. Of course I really didn't
have to worry on that score, because I wasn't the type
that got half drunk.
I was at the end
of my rope. I knew it, and I turned for help to someone
upon whom I had turned my back for many years. I asked
God for help. It was the first time that I had asked
for help sincerely and honestly. And I got help. I went
back to the old family doctor who had helped me the
first time I had the D.T.'s back in 1942. At this point,
I was no longer the wise boy. I went in there and asked
him honestly if he could give me a cure. He just looked
at me and said, "Pat, for you there isn't any cure."
We talked for a while, and then he sent me down to the
Alanon House over on the west side, and there I had
my introduction to A.A.
It was a revelation
to me to find that there were such people as those I
found in Alcoholics Anonymous. It was a revelation when
I read that First Step. It was very, very simple. My
life had become unmanageable due to the excessive use
of alcohol. I had drunk too often and too much. But
somehow or other, with my old alcoholic brain, sitting
there in that chair, I kept
to myself, "I wonder if it'll work? I wonder if
it'll work for me?"
Then I went to my
first meeting. I was a very fortunate drunk. God had
been good to me both in my drinking and in my sobriety.
Because, thank God, since I came into this program I
haven't had any trouble. Oh yes, I get the dry jitters
once in a while, but that isn't anything to worry about.
It passes away. But I've never come close to that first
drink. I took the advice of people I had heard at meetings,
the people in the group. And I jumped in with both feet.
Someone told me, "When you drank, you didn't get
half drunk. You went all the way. In this program there
aren't any half way measures. In here you must go all
the way too." So I attended as many meetings as
There are steps
of recovery, of maintenance. Each one has its own place.
We all use them differently. I found a great deal of
friendship in this movement. I learned to pray honestly.
When you come in here, you find the understanding that
you need. A.A.'s Twelve Steps may confuse you when you
read them over. But the more meetings you attend, the
more people you meet at these meetings, the clearer
the Steps become.
We must learn to
walk before we can run. That's why we have these slogans.
I use that "Easy Does It" every day, to slow
me down a little. I have to watch myself all the time.
So I don't just take the inventory at night—I
take it continually throughout the day. Before I step
out and do anything, I stop and check it over first,
and then let my conscience be my guide.
For me, A.A. has
become a way of life.
for more resources on Pat M.