(p. 478 in 3rd edition.)
They Lost Nearly All
“Waitress by day, barfly by night, she drifted down the years into jail. Then A.A. showed her the beauty of normal living, in a whole family reborn.”
This alcoholic woman had been “slinging hash” for eighteen years, and she thought she was managing. She had a beat-up car that wasn’t paid for, no clothes, no money, no home, no real friends to speak of, mentally and physically pooped, “but I was doing all right!”
She began drinking at the age of twelve and quit at thirty-two. She also had a pill problem and for two years she was also addicted to heroin, using as many as twenty caps a day. She felt she had wasted twenty years of her life, but was fortunate not to have brain damage.
After being arrested and serving six months on drug charges she didn’t go back to heroin. Her poor mother had “three of her kids in jail that year – two sons and a daughter.” A few years later an older brother died in a house fire because of “pills and booze.”
She attempted suicide on several occasions “making sure there was always somebody within reaching distance.” On one of these occasions her brother-in-law ran to her rescue but she wound up in a mental institution.
Finally, she and her surviving siblings were all in A.A. and her mother in Al-Anon.
In her story she told of the many benefits she had received from A.A. She had a happy marriage to a man she met in A.A. He taught her that in their new life she was the most important person of all. For her, her sobriety came before his or even before her feeling for him. He taught her that she must help herself first, only then would she be able to help others.
She and her husband were aware of the nice things around them, things they had never noticed before in their drunken stupor. She planted her first flower garden the year she wrote her story, she was enjoying hockey games with her husband and her brother without being “all boozed up.” She went to church on Easter Sunday with her husband and “it didn’t hurt at all.” (And the church walls didn’t tumble down.)
She knew that the biggest word for her in A.A. is “honesty.” “I don’t believe this program would work for me if I didn’t get honest with myself about everything. Honesty is the easiest word for me to understand because it is the exact opposite of what I’ve been doing all my life. Therefore, it will be the hardest to work on. But I will never be totally honest — that would make me perfect and none of us can claim to be perfect. Only God is.”