Years before I came to Alcoholics Anonymous I was aware that there was something dreadfully wrong with me but not one person ever suggested that I might be an alcoholic or that I should try A.A. Perhaps that was due to the denial of the people around me that drank like I did.
Suggesting that I had a problem with alcohol would mean outing themselves and others. Looking back on it now, I feel fortunate that I survived those last few years of failed attempts at life and when I ran out of options I came to A.A. sincerely looking for answers. The denial within me was gone.
My mind was open and for the first time in my life I was desperate and I was listening. At my first A.A. meeting I was moved by what I heard. It was different than anything I had experienced before. The people were being honest and candid about things that only brought shame and guilt to me in the past. I felt safe for the first time in my life and could discuss those things openly, that had been taboo up until then. Prior to that, everything in my life was a façade.
At that moment on October 15, 1969, my perception of the world had changed and I have not wanted a drink since. Call it a Spiritual Awakening if you like, and it was for me, but it came in the form of a Profound Change in Perception. In appendices 2, in the Big Book, it describes a man who had “undergone a profound alteration in his reaction to life.” I began to question all of the decisions I had made in the past, and how the residue of those decisions had tarnished and eroded any chance of a successful, happy life.
I became aware that the values system that I had learned as a child, at church and at the Boy Scout meetings, etc. was lost in the dust, and was replaced with guilt and shame. I was in trouble when I violated my own value system. I now realize that, I wasn’t a bad kid but I was a kid that wasn’t strong enough to do the things I knew to be right. The more I broke the rules, the easier it became and moral standards were meaningless.
Soon drinking was the only thing that eased my conscience. When that quit working for me, I found myself at the door of Alcoholics Anonymous. Once I had that change of perception I knew what to do. It may be as simple as “trying to stop doing the things that I regret” but the key to it all is “Being honest with myself”, and never going back to my old way of thinking.
I said that I was fortunate to have survived those last few years of drinking and that I came to A.A. looking for answers. Being desperate enough to ask for help was the most important part of that experience. I don’t believe that anyone could have convinced me to stop drinking against my will. I may have stayed dry long enough to get the heat off, but I doubt that I would have sincerely surrendered to the degree necessary to have that change of perception and therefore no spiritual awakening.
Getting off in the right direction from the start was very important to any success I’ve had in A.A. I know that I only live once and I don’t want to waste one moment of the precious life God gave me.
Today, as I continue to practice the all of the things I’ve learned in A.A. it has resulted in a peace of mind that was unimaginable when I first walked through the doors of Alcoholics Anonymous and, for that, I am extremely grateful.
By Rick R.