Harris K., Illinois.
(p. 418, 3rd edition.)
They Stopped in Time
“A ‘good boy’ reached adulthood and success without achieving maturity or fulfillment. Defeated by alcohol and pills, he found the way to a new life.”
Harris’s date of sobriety is believed to be 1960.
He was a second-generation A.A. member, taken to A.A. by a woman whom his father had taken to A.A. thirteen years earlier.
He neither drank nor smoked until he was nineteen years old. He was an honor graduate in high school, and the “good boy” to whom mothers pointed when their sons went astray. He was awarded a scholarship to a famous old eastern college, but began to drink at the end of his freshman year. By junior year he had to transfer to an easier state university to keep his grades up.
He entered dental school, his admission, oddly enough, arranged by the dentist who started A.A. in Amarillo, Texas. During his first year there, he married.
He went through dental school sober, for the most part, except that he imitated his father’s periodic drinking pattern by getting drunk at a few parties and on vacation. He graduated with honors, but could feel no real responsibility as a father or a husband.
Then he served a four-year tour in the Navy, two of which were spent in the Philippines. He described his life there as “a nightmare of periodic binges on alcohol and pills, adultery, unhappy hours at the dental office, seeing my wife give birth to our second child and have several miscarriages, living in a turbulent household, and making continual attempts to be the respectable dentist, husband, father, and community leader.”
His return to the united States proved effective as a geographical cure, and he was sober for a while, with the help of the church. He had another brief period of sobriety when he went back to his hometown to go into private practice, but it did not take long for the pressures to bring out his immaturity and his insecurity.
By the age of twenty-eight he was well established and had been elected president of a civic club, was a deacon and a Sunday-school teacher, and had a lovely wife and three children. His wife was in the Junior League, and he was on the board of directors of the local center for the mentally retarded. But he had a queasy feeling in the pit of his stomach, which hinted to him that everything was phony. He had no real peace of mind, nor any gratitude.
In less than two years he had lost his practice, his home, his wife and children. He tried the church and psychiatry and finally came to A.A. He was twenty-nine when he had his last drunk. During that last drunk, which lasted four days, he threatened to kill his children, beat his wife at home and on the church steps, mistreated a child in his office, and ran to a hospital for mental illness to avoid jail.
He came to A.A. simply because there were no other doors of help open to him in his hometown.
After coming to A.A. he was divorced, lost his practice, was legally restrained from seeing his children, went broke, and the dental society threatened him with the loss of his license. Only A.A. kept him from running away.
He went to meetings frequently, listened to tapes and attended A.A. conferences, worked on the Twelve Steps and with other alcoholics and their families.
A.A. gave him a new wife who was also an A.A. member, a beautiful stepdaughter, a new practice, a new home, and a new relationship with his four children. Most important, it enabled him to go back and start growing up all over again in all areas of his life.
He asks at the end of his story, “Why am I alive, free, a respected member of my community?” And he answers his own question: “Because A.A. really works for me!”
It appears that Harris is still living. I was given his full name and hometown. His name is still in the phone book there – twice actually, the second perhaps his son – so I have not revealed his full name or hometown.