I’m seven years old and every adult in my immediate environment is drinking daily and it isn’t hard for me to get a taste of beer, if I wanted, but I don’t necessarily like the taste, so no problem.
I’m ten years old and beer is beginning to taste better but still not my favorite, but a little sip of whiskey, now and then, tastes o.k. but it’s harder to get the adults to give it up.
I’m thirteen years old and my friend and I talk an old drunk into buying us a few quarts of beer, and we commence to get drunk for the first time in our lives, and now I know why all those adults drink this stuff every night. I was giddy, sloppy, stupid, sick and eventually unconscious. I woke up the next morning and went off to school with a nasty hangover. I was in the eighth grade at that time. Still it was no problem.
From that time on my mind was consumed with thoughts of how I was going to repeat that wonderful experience. As I started high school I worked in a bowling alley from six pm till ten thirty pm, setting up pins and when we got off, we would go straight to a sleazy bar where we could get someone to buy beer for us.
From there, we would go to an abandoned school building and drink till all the beer was gone, get into fist fights with each other, wake up the next morning with black eyes, skinned up knuckles and elbows, go back to school and come up with some ridicules’ story about what had happened.
I’m sixteen years old and I’m allowed to party with the adults and shortly after getting my driver’s license, I am asked to drive someone home, and on the return trip, I missed a turn and smashed into a parked car.
I continue to drink unabated, I quit school in May of my senior year with almost no resistance, join the navy in August of that same year, locked up for gang fighting, have my second drunk driving accident when I drive into a gas station and hit a car at the pump.
I continue this kind of behavior for ten more years and am lucky to have survived after more trips to jail, failed marriage, broken bones, cuts and bruises and broken relations with almost everyone that means anything to me.
I’m twenty eight years old surrender and show up at A.A. coming out of a blackout. I am greeted on the front lawn of a little yellow house in the suburbs that is being used to hold meetings, by three people who welcome this stranger with opened arms as though they are expecting me. They began to listen patiently to my tales of woe, nodding as they seem to understand. Their eyes are soft and gentle and I feel their compassion.
At the young age of twenty eight, I believed that my life was over but, one of them says “life isn’t passing you by near as fast as you think it is” and they say, come inside and have a cup of coffee. They were right; I had a profound change of perception and all of those bad days are but a distant memory. The obsession was gone and it has never returned.
In my first year of sobriety I met a young lady who was not an alcoholic but was curious about a fleet sailor who was divorced, had a young child, and was an alcoholic, and I suppose she sensed something in me that intrigued her. The more we talked about my aspirations and the type of principles I was learning to live by, the closer we became. We were married on October 31, 1970 and have been together ever since.
She is the happiest wife I know and needless to say, I hit the Jackpot. Since embracing the program we have gained the love and respect of my first wife and we have been kind and understanding towards her as well and my son has been witness to all of this.
Since that very first day in the program I have been practicing the twelve steps to the best of my ability and understanding and it has been a wonderful experience. I wouldn’t trade places with the richest man on this planet. I couldn’t be more grateful for the way I was welcomed when I needed hope and understanding. I felt safe for the first time in my life.
My hope is that all who arrive at the doors of A.A. can be accepted with the same love and kindness that I experienced. I’m seventy five years old and on my way to one hundred + and life is awesome.
By Rick R.