Nancy F., New York City.
(p. 532 in 2nd edition.)
Nancy came to A.A. in June 1945, when she was 39 years old. She did not write her own story, which was written by some writers in A.A., and she claims she didn’t even know it was in the Big Book.
She left home at fourteen. Her mother had died when she was three, her father remarried when she was fourteen, and her stepmother kicked her out. “When you’re thrown out, you don’t feel like you’re anything. You know something’s got to be wrong with you or they wouldn’t have thrown you out. And they tell me that, psychologically, I felt abandoned by my mother.”
She had made a few geographic “cures,” but they didn’t work. She kept quitting jobs, not having the courage to wait to be fired.
Her contact with A.A. was at the clubhouse on Ninth Avenue and 41st Street. She expected to meet a bunch of bums, so did not get dressed up because she didn’t want to look better than everybody else. When she arrived Park Avenue types were there. “And I was so welcome. It was the first time I felt welcome.”
She was impressed on coming to A.A. to meet a countess (Felicia G., “Stars Don’t Fall.”)
At that time Nancy had a little beauty shop and often gave permanents to members of A.A., those who could afford to pay her and those who could not.
She and another young woman, perhaps Marty M., were often asked to go to hospitals and drying-out places frequented by the wealthy, because they were younger and “presentable.” They bought little hats with flowers on them, and wore little black dresses and pearls on these occasions.
Once they went to the apartment of a celebrated actress, and she told them such wonderful stories, they forgot why they were there. “We didn’t have the nerve to tell her that she was a drunk. Later she did get sober,” Nancy said years later.
She didn’t like to work with the families in the beginning. “I was mad at the families. I wouldn’t talk to anybody but the alcoholic.”
“I was so eager to give what I had,” she said “I went right from the First Step to the last Step. For me it was just wonderful. I got in with people and I cared for somebody. You see, I had never cared for anybody, not even myself. When you care for somebody, you begin to heal yourself. You don’t even know it.”
Nancy said everyone in A.A. knew each other in those days because they were all in one clubhouse.
She often went to Dr. Silkworth for advice. “If we were in trouble, we’d go to Dr. Silkworth. If we were in a situation and we didn’t know how to get out of it or were afraid we might get drunk, we could talk it over with him. He was a very simple, wonderful man. He said to me once, ‘The day that you can sit down and just be honest with yourself in this situation, you will know what to do.’ That was the kind of a man he was.”
Nancy went to the clubhouse every day from eleven o’clock in the morning when they opened until they closed at night. It was the only place she felt safe.
For the first five years, she did nothing but go to A.A. She didn’t know what else to do. For fifteen years she attended a women’s meeting that Marty M. started in the home of a woman whose husband was an alcoholic. It was on 58th Street in midtown Manhattan.
Marty wanted to hire her as a speaker for the National Council on Alcoholism, but she declined.
Nancy is a good example of what people can accomplish after they get sober. She went to high school in her fifties and went to college when she was seventy. She studied behavioral science. She went to college for nine and a half years. She graduated cum laude.
When she arrived at A.A. she didn’t believe in God and didn’t want to hear anything about it. But she began searching. Later she became a Quaker and taught English to migrant workers.
She now lives in Pennsylvania, and spoke at the 2000 A.A. International Convention in Minneapolis.