Jerry’s Story

 by Jerry L.

Hi, my name is Jerry. My sobriety date is July 25, 1998. I drank and used drugs for 20 years before getting sober. For my personal life, I came to San Francisco from Seattle, Washington in 2001 for a visit and to see the sights. I had been clean and sober for almost three years when I got here. San Francisco started to get to me, because I found great new meetings, and I found great new A.A. friends. So I ended up finding a job for Goodwill but I didn’t like it. 

One day I walk into the break room and saw the TV where two planes were crashing into the World Trade Centers. Everyone at work was saying they are going to be hiring Security all over the place. That idea stuck with me, and I quit my job at Goodwill. Then I went and applied for a security officer job and got hired right on the spot. I’ve been working as a security officer for 18 years, as my career. As for finding a place to live, it’s not a mansion or a one-bedroom apartment. It’s an SRO (Single Resident Occupancy) and it is the cheapest way you could live in San Francisco. But it’s my home and it’s been my home for 18 years, by keeping up with the rent, and paying my bills on time. 

As for a companion, a relationship, I fell in love. I’ve met the best woman in the world: she is a “normie,” a person that doesn’t drink or use. We have been together for 16 years. But it’s all because of my program. As the years went by, I found a great sponsor with more years than myself, he helps me through the 12 Steps, and we keep each other sober. I try to go to as many A.A. meetings as I can. A.A. meetings are all over my city, so I have many choices and times to attend one. 

I’ve met the best woman in the world and she is a “normie”

A.A. service is my anchor. Right now I am the secretary for my home group, The Federal Speaker Meeting at 12 noon. Plus there are many other ways to do service in A.A.: Coffee Maker, Greeter, Treasurer, Set-up, and H&I  and Phone Line service. As for a Higher Power—this can be a tough one. I chose one of my understanding. This could be hard for atheists or people who don’t know God. But the more you go to A.A., and the more you read A.A. literature or the Big Book, you will get one. I’ve seen this happen and many do find something to believe in. 

photo credits available upon request to thepoint@aasfmarin.org

Drinking was my first addiction. I loved to drink beer at first, like a soft drink. Then I needed to drink something stronger because I had built a tolerance for that. Then the vodka, gin, whiskey and tequila were the next best thing, especially tequila shots. Now those made me black out, which for some reason didn’t matter at the time. But the boozing became more and more until I needed to do it every day. The drugs came with it as well and I became a cross-addicted addict. I could not stop using; I had tried everything to slow it down or to control it. Nothing would work, not even for my family, my children, my ex-wife. That’s when I lost everything and became homeless. I hit a bottom that I had never hit before. I had lost hope, and I had given up. I guess I was ready to die; I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. So that’s when God, the higher power of my choosing, gave me a spiritual awakening. I knew I had to ask for help, to find out what was wrong with me, to put myself into treatment. I did this, and I was ready to try something different.

First I had to go through detox for a week. That was a living hell, but I made it. Then I was transferred over to the recovery center for three months, not because I had to, but because I wanted to (a good idea after drinking for 20 years). While I was there one thing stood out to me that would build my program stronger, and that was what the Treatment Counselor said: You only have to change one thing, and that is everything.

You only have to change one thing

Well, today it is much better; God has blessed me with a second chance. Today I am happy, joyful and free. But it doesn’t stop there, now I have to give back to the newcomers, do service, go to meetings, work the steps and have a sponsor. Plus ask God of my choosing to help me to do better, and be better. That is my program, and if I’m not working a program then I’m working a relapse. 

To me it’s how Dr. Bob & Bill W. put it: Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. That sentence has stuck with me the whole time I have been in A.A. I remember a sponsor once asked me if I had any fears, and I said many. He said to me: The opposite of fear is faith—go to a meeting. So now I pray to the God of my understanding, I meet with my sponsor once a week and I help a newcomer whenever I can. I keep it simple.

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