(p. 419 in 2nd edition, p. 432 in 3rd edition, p 382 in the 4th edition.)
They Stopped in Time
“Barleycorn’s wringer squeezed this author – but he escaped quite whole.”
This author’s date of sobriety is believed to be November 1947.
He reveals little of his childhood years or his origin, just the hint when discussing his seven years in psychotherapy that someone had coddled him and built him up, and then turned and beat him savagely.
He was a father, husband, homeowner, athlete, artist, musician, author, editor, aircraft pilot, and world traveler. He was listed in “Who’s Who in America.” He had been successful in the publishing business, and his opinions were quoted in “Time” and “Newsweek” with pictures, and he addressed the public by radio and television.
He drank heavily as was common in the literary circles in which he traveled. “Evening cocktails were as standard as morning coffee,” and his average daily consumption ran a little more or less than a pint. This did not seem to affect his work. He was never drunk on the job, never missed a day’s work, was seldom rendered totally ineffective by a hangover and kept his liquor expenses well within his adequate budget. How could he possibly be an alcoholic?
But he occasionally went on binges, usually one-night stands. In twenty-five years of drinking there were only a few occasions when he took a morning drink. He usually had excuses for the binges and tried several methods of controlling his drinking. These plans seemed to work for short periods.
Inwardly unhappy he turned to psychoanalysis. He spent seven years and ten thousand dollars on psychiatric care and emerged in worse condition than ever, although he learned a lot about himself, which would be useful later. His binges got closer and closer together and with more and more disastrous results. Soon he was in suicidal despair.
After his last binge, during which he did considerable damage to his home, he crawled back to his analyst and told him he thought he was an alcoholic.
His doctor agreed. He said he hadn’t told him because he hadn’t been sure until recently. The line between a heavy drinker and an alcoholic is not always clear, and that he wouldn’t have believed him had he told him. The doctor admitted that there was nothing he could do for him, and that there was nothing medicine could do for him. But he suggested A.A.
Many times in the years that followed the author thanked God for that doctor, a man who had the courage to admit failure and the humility to confess that all the hard-won learning of his profession could not turn up the answer.
In A.A. he found the power he needed. In the seven years since he had come to A.A. he had not had a drink.
He still had some hell to go through. His tower of worldly success collapsed, his alcoholic associates fired him, took control, and ran the enterprise into bankruptcy. His alcoholic wife took up with someone else and divorced him, taking with her all his remaining property.
But the most terrible blow was when his sixteen-year-old son was tragically killed. “The Higher Power was on deck to see me through, sober. I think He’s on hand to see my son through, too. I think He’s on hand to see all of us through whatever may come to us.
Some wonderful things had happened, too. His new wife and he didn’t own any property to speak of and the flashy successes of another day were gone. But they had a baby “who, if you’ll pardon a little post-alcoholic sentimentality, is right out of Heaven.” His work was on a much deeper and more significant level than it ever was before, and he was, at the time he wrote his story, a fairly creative, relatively sane human being. “And should I have more bad times,” he wrote, “I know that I’ll never again have to go through these alone.”