It is said that every alcoholic has his own rock bottom, his own gutter. I had watched my career, my profession and my health vanish without appreciable effort or anything except the increasing tempo of my drinking.
But one day, twenty-one years ago, I was ordered out of my home and family! My own mother had finally decided that I was useless and unhelpable. That was my particular gutter. Not until then had I been willing to face up to how far I had gone down in life.
It was this that brought me to A.A. No one led me there, I came to it myself. I came in desperation, without any hope of anything really happening. The best I expected was that I might possibly manage with its help to keep off another drunk until I had smoothed things out at home.
I was very sick, in the jitters and doped with drugs; mentally sick, confused, and unable to divorce my thoughts from drink; spiritually sick, for I no longer had any hope in anyone or anything, and no longer any faith in anyone, anything or any God.
Most of what I heard that night went in and came straight out again. I received a confused idea that all I had to do was to stay dry for one day, and that I should have to pray, what? Me? And that if I only came back to the next meeting all would be well.
No, it was what I saw that struck home to me. What happened that night to me was a rekindling of a spark of Hope. I heard men describe their drinking lives; I saw them! They were flesh and blood before me. They had had the jitters too. They too had taken those early morning walks to the market pubs, like me; they understood, as I hadn’t been able to make anyone else understand, that men like me didn’t go out to get drunk—it just happened!
They had been doing all the strange things that I was still doing; they had been thinking in the same crazy way that I was still thinking… and yet they had found a way to recover after all. There was hope for me! What they could do, perhaps I could do as well.
I walked home alone after that meeting, my mind racing and still confused. Now that I again was myself, I hardly dared to keep on hoping. For these others… yes, they had recovered. But for me, how could it happen? I never had that kind of luck! Yet, that tiny voice that there is hope kept whispering “They did it… they could do it… why shouldn’t you… if you really try with them?”
That faint hope did keep me dry for the next few days to the next meeting. That same small little hope set me off on the way to recovery and happiness. That same hope can do as much for anyone else.
Jackville O’C., Dublin, Ireland, Editor “Targets For Thought”
Central Bulletin Archives, June 1968