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Grapevine : September 2011
FIRST AID, AA-STYLE Idrank for 32 years, from 1965 until 1997, but the severe conse- quences didn't start until 1993. Once they did, though, I bur- rowed quickly toward a bottom that only God and AA could overcome. First, I separated from my wife of 17 years. My drinking skyrocketed. My job performance deteriorated overnight and, by the end of 1995, after working for this company for nearly 20 years, my employer had no choice but to fire me. In my mind, I was "free at last," especially since my employer contin- ued my full salary for nine months after termination. I had no clue how cunning, baffling and powerful this disease that I had was, and that it was out to destroy me. By the middle of 1996, my life was so miserable that I tried killing myself with a bottle of prescription pills. This was not to be my bottom, however. I spent three weeks in hospi- tals and two months in my sister's home, after which I was off and running again. In early 1997, I went to an AA meeting in Buffalo, New York. I was very drunk, needing liquid courage to get to that first meeting. My last drink was on August 15, 1997. I had a grand total of zero friends, my family didn't want to have anything to do with me, and my money was almost gone. I didn't even have any drinking buddies left. This loneliness sparked my gift of desperation. It wasn't the 11 incarcerations in jails and institu- tions over the prior 13 months, nor the loss of driving privileges, nor the attempted suicide, nor the three war- rants for my arrest, nor living under a bridge, nor the lost career, nor the marriage breakup. It was the simple fact that nobody outside of AA want- ed anything to do with me. You guys welcomed me and you were far from a "glum lot," that was for sure. I start- ed to want what you had. It was the way he survived two heart-shattering losses 10 September 2011