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Grapevine : October 2011
WHEN I first entered the rooms of AA, a little more than 30 years ago, I noticed a sign on the wall that assured me that "This too shall pass." I cer- tainly hoped so. At the ripe old age of 24, I was suffering legal, financial, family, and---if one counts a variety of accidents and alcohol withdraw- al---health problems. That little sign gave me hope. It still does. But I had no idea at the time just how pro- found and far-reaching those four simple words are. At an AA meeting in the early 1980s, I met a remarkably beautiful girl named Ann. Both in our mid- 20s, we became friends at first, hav- ing not only recovery and other sober friends in common, but similar in- terests in books, music and politics. If not the proverbial match made in heaven, it was certainly within a bird's eye view of it. When we first began seeing each other on a more-than-friendship ba- sis, I had about two years of sobriety under my belt, she just a hair under a year. Somewhere in the area of three years (and Twelve Steps) after our first date---big spender that I was, I took her to a secluded, picturesque little waterfall fully equipped with a small campfire and smoked weenies on sticks---Ann and I were married. We bought a house, raised a daughter, worked and went to meetings. I have to confess that we were not exactly frequent church-goers, but we took our little girl to many, many meetings. I remember one particular occasion when she was 3 or 4 years old, and the three of us were in church. The congregation rose and in unison re- cited the Lord's Prayer. In the near-si- lence that followed "Amen," one little voice rang out: "Keep coming back!" Life went on with its usual ups and downs, and Ann and I were both hap- py and responsible. (I've come to be- lieve that the latter is a prerequisite of the former). We were PTA members; Ann was a cheerleading advisor at our daughter's school; we were both advancing professionally. Two sober drunks living the dream! Then ... I am a firm believer that after a significant period of sobriety---in my case, more than 12 years---one does not just wake up one day and think, It's a good day to get drunk. What could be better than to go out and wreck my life and the lives of those I love? Just as recovery is a process, so is the loss of it. With the benefit of hindsight, I can trace a downhill slide of about two years before I actually picked up that first drink. ButpickitupIdid.Whileona business trip in Columbus, Ohio, I walked into a bar, drank two shots of whiskey and a draft, and walked out. Lightning didn't strike, and the earth didn't open up and swallow me. At least, not right away. 18 October 2011