Ending the Nightmare

by Rick R.

At 9:00 AM I was just waking up with a terrible hangover. For some reason, my brain was telling me I was going to die prematurely if I didn’t do something about my drinking. But what was I supposed to do? The only thing that meant anything to me was earning enough money to support my drinking habit. I was running out of options and friends.

Desperately ransacking my apartment for a drink, for the first time I could remember I couldn’t find a drop. An hour later I was sitting in the grass on the front lawn of a small yellow house where they held A.A. meetings. Three sober members of A.A. greeted me with compassion and understanding.

An hour later I was sitting in the grass on the front lawn of a small yellow house

photo credits available upon request from thepoint@aasfmarin.org

Two minutes later, I laid back in the grass, covered my eyes with my forearm, and said to myself, “Thank God, the nightmare is over.” And it was. That was on October 15, 1969, and I haven’t had or wanted a drink since then. 

What happened to me that day? I have been an avid member of the program from that day until now. I have always strived to understand what took place at that exact moment. The best way I can describe it is: I had a profound change of perception. Some will call it spiritual awakening but that’s where, I believe, we have our most difficult challenge — defining the word “spiritual.”

 I find two definitions that show the different ways we are conditioned to understand spirituality: 1) Of, or relating to, or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things; and 2) Of, or relating to religion or religious belief. Neither Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition refers to anything of a material nature.

I’ve resided in my current community for the last 40 years and attend 8 or 9 meetings weekly. After seeing the comings and goings of thousands of A.A. members, I seem to recognize a difference in the sharing of two groups of people. One will share about material problems or their drinking escapades, and the other will share about things of the inner self, the immaterial or the unseen things such as guilt, fear, shame, pride, trust, and conscience. 

It didn’t happen overnight, but it did happen

We all have these things, to one degree or another. The sooner we recognize the value of being right in spirit, the more we distance ourselves from the useless, meaningless thinking of the past. My heart goes out to those who haven’t experienced that spiritual awakening and if they haven’t, they may not even know that they haven’t. I wish there was a simple way to induce a spiritual awakening in someone but, without the desperation, I may never have experienced it myself. I believe the futile effort to find alcohol in my apartment that morning in 1969 was my bottom. Immediately searching out A.A. was like a slingshot launching me into the program, desperately searching for answers. Until desperation outweighed denial, my alcoholic thinking had been the only thing I could rely on for decision making. Now my decisions are based on spiritual (unselfish) principles and most of those material problems are but distant memories.

It didn’t happen overnight, but it did happen. We all come to A.A. with material problems and we must give them due diligence until resolved. We learn from past mistakes and find better ways of doing things. If we dedicate ourselves to understanding the spirit of the things we learn in the program, and not just settling for the letter of the law, so to speak, we can outdistance the failed ideas of yesterday. We will find peace and happiness. Life will have meaning at last. A profound change of perception (awakening) will make it so. 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email