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Grapevine : October 2011
W hen I first came to AA and peo- ple suggested I might just be a garden--variety drunk like the rest of them, I thought they were blind. I genuinely thought that when people said gar- den--variety drunks, they meant peo- ple who'd gone to endless afternoon lawn parties, say, in Connecticut, played croquet and drank gin. That's a garden--variety drunk. I was more of the insane, bipolar, living--in--a-- car--with--delusions--of--world--power type of drunk. In fact, I had lived in an antique Chrysler one winter in an indoor parking lot. My home group in New York City sometimes nicknames me "bullet-proof--car Josh," because, for a short while, I drove around in one, a used, run-down, bullet-proof BMW I found in a car magazine. I was as drunk and insane as they got. I would get incredibly loaded and trade gold futures on the stock market. One summer I had a public access TV show where I would routinely show up to the editing room wasted and predict the end of the world for my tiny audience. Alternately, I would sometimes get so depressed for weeks that I wouldn't leave my very short routes around my neighbor- hood. I'd go into a dark, terrified lockdown mode and wouldn't even drink. I had been diagnosed as a manic-depressive when I was 20, be- fore my drinking really took off, and was put on medications. My story has been hard to un- derstand with all of this going on. When I did my Step work the first time around, I had a hard time see- ing that I was even an alcoholic, as I often drank with incredible control. I felt like I had to since I was on medi- cations that were alcohol sensitive, and I was mortified of blackouts. Sometimes I could avoid drinking for periods of one or two months. My sponsor pointed out that my drink- ing actually started right around the same time as these extreme ups and downs, and instead of just calling myself someone who self-medicated, maybe I really had that soul sickness of alcoholism. He suggested that staying even just wasn't any fun for someone like me, that getting on the roller coaster like I always did with a drink or two or three or a drug, was the plight of all of us. He said that it wasn't how much I drank, but what happened to me when I drank. When I complained that my bottom wasn't as convincing as other people's, he reminded me that I talked about walking around the streets wanting to be hit by a city bus, which was the same soul sickness as winding up in five detoxes. It's just my garden--va- riety--alcoholic desire to be different, he suggested. So I surrendered. Surrendering did miracles. The Steps did miracles. Getting some 36 October 2011