by Bree L.
My first drug of choice was my thumb. I was a thumb-sucker until the fourth grade. “I always needed something to take the edge off.” I had my first drink at about age 13 at a wrap-up party for the opera Il La Toreador. There was a big anvil scene where the actors mimicked stomping grapes and making wine with their feet. Someone handed me a glass and I remember the feel of ease and comfort the Big Book describes.
Drinking was a big part of the theater life
I didn’t drink at all in high school but caught up in college. I studied theater, and drinking was a big part of the theater life. The hardest part was finding a balance between the adrenaline and high stress situations. The question was how to relax after rehearsal or a show. There is a theater adage of booze, pills and heavy meals at night. All three were true in my case.
I liked the way one or two drinks made me feel, but I couldn’t stop at two drinks. I discovered a solution: cocaine. The cocaine let me drink the way I wanted: 8 – 12 hours straight without losing control. I had no interest in drinking normally, not really. “If I could drink as a normal person, I’d drink all day long.” For me drinking normally meant drinking without consequences!
I came into A.A. via outpatient rehab, on Valentines Day 2006. After one four-month relapse, I got sober on June 28, 2006. Bouncing around, I hit various bottoms and at 27 ended up in the emergency room. The doctor asked if I wanted help. I said “Yes, anything but A.A.” I thought A.A. was some sort of religious organization or cult-like pyramid scheme. No problem, they had an outpatient program I could join. And lo’ and behold, the outpatient program sent me to A.A.
One of the perks was free access to a rehearsal studio
I came in as a secular Jew and the only alcoholic in my immediate family. I had a lot of discomfort around the God word as it appeared in the Big Book and the steps. I was afraid people would try to make me convert or “missionize” me.
I started out just wanting to get my slips signed until I went to a daily meeting called High Noon. It was such an eclectic group of people and I heard so many different concepts of a higher power. I realized I didn’t need to be afraid. A.A. wasn’t religious. I adopted High Noon as my home group. An old-timer, Si P., was a big influence on me. I thought of him as a grandfather figure, though he may never have known how much he meant to me. Si got me interested in the traditions and A.A. History.
One of the perks at my work was free access to a rehearsal studio. It had been years since I had done any theater, and the idea came to me to put on a play about A.A. history. The SF/Marin Intergroup let me do a staged reading for Founders Day in 2009, and the following year let me write an original play! This is when my interest in sharing the history of underrepresented populations in A.A. really took off, highlighting culturally remote communities such as the early women, LGBTQ, people of color and young people in the Fellowship. “In Our Own Words” was my first original recovery play and it was warmly received. “I Am Responsible” is my most recent work and the Intergroup is presenting it in Novato on June 22 at the Margaret Todd Center.
We all bring our own skills to A.A.
We all bring our own skills to A.A. Putting on these plays is just one part of my service work. I sponsor several women. I am also a District Committee Member (D.C.M.) for San Francisco’s General Service District 6. Participating in 12-Step service outside the individual or group level became really important to me once I learned what was at stake.
I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Public Information & Co-operation with the Professional Community (PI/CPC) work – they were the committee that worked with my outpatient rehab to establish positive relationships. Hospitals & Institutions (H&I) brought a meeting into my treatment center. Central Office printed the meeting schedules I still use to this day. A.A. World Services and the General Service Office printed the books and pamphlets I read with my sponsor. Once when I was four years sober I was acting out destructively, not drinking but hating myself, and at 3:00 a.m. I called Teleservice. Someone answered the A.A. hotline and talked me down. I’m alive and happy today because of all these services. A.A. was founded 85 years ago, and I want to make sure A.A. is here for another 85 years. That is my responsibility to the alcoholic who hasn’t been born yet, and that’s why I avidly participate in General Service.
“I Am Responsible” will run 5:30 p.m. June 22 at the Margaret Todd Center, 1560 Hill Road in Novato.