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Grapevine : February 2011
years, I would hang out with older males and nip a drink now and then. It helped me forget my secrets and my desire to fit in. I couldn't talk to anyone because I feared their misunderstanding of who and what I really was. I didn't drink in bars (all the bar owners knew me and my family) until age 21. I started drinking more on weeknights and weekends. I joined clubs to feel safe and hide who I was. I joined the army to be the man everyone wanted me to be, and that didn't work out. I still drank when I could. I tried get- ting married and had two children. I drank after work. I ended up going to detox centers and rehabs many times, in order to save my job and my mar- riage of nine years, but it didn't work out for me. By now I was sleeping in room- ing houses on top of bars and drinking more. I had fear and loneliness inside. Attheageof35,Iranawaytojointhe circus, to hide my secret life. I thought I could be the king of the road, only to become a bum with a buck. You see, when I climbed on that circus train, I took something with me---myself. That's the hardest thing to get away from.I don't know when or where I crossed the line into alcoholism. I tried to stop. I was in and out of AA and hospital detoxes. I lived in a half- way house. I had a psychiatric hospital stay because I tried to kill myself by jumping out a window, and failed. I was drinking again and not knowing who or what I was. Seven years ago, I detoxed by myself. It's not a good thing to do, and I wouldn't wish that on anyone. IwentbacktoAAandgota sponsor. I also had to get the accep- tance that was the key to solving all my problems. I had to admit that I was powerless over alcohol and that my life was unmanageable. I needed a manager because I couldn't man- age my life. I needed a Higher Power, a God of my understanding. I knew about God, but turned to him only in desperation. Step Three told me I had to make a decision to turn my will and life over to the God of my understanding. I still don't know if God is a he, she or it, and to me it doesn't matter. What matters is that I came to believe in a Higher Power, whom I call God, and I have a sponsor to help me with the Steps. Things today are not all ice cream and cake, but it is a new life. With my Higher Power and sponsor walking with me, I've been able to change my name. My legal name is now Ricki, and I live my life as a female. I've been sober seven years, and I'm 62 years old. I know that I am still one drink away from the unknown, but for my Higher Power, my sponsor, and the many people in AA who have faith in me.MynameisRickiandIamanal- coholic, first and last. Ricki P. Homestead, Pa. Grapevine 29