1 06, 2021

Grace (Part 1)

by Kathleen C

All day today I’ve been walking around my house, loading the dishwasher and making my bed and doing whatever I do as part of my life, saying this little chant that my sponsor Bonnie and I came up with. I don’t know where it came from, I think it was from a meditation book. It was, “The power of God is within me, the grace of God surrounds me.” All day long I have been saying that to myself. I realized while I was sitting at the table just now that when I was drinking and using I was alone. I was not a social drinker, I was a “hide out in my house with the blinds closed” kind of drinker and user.

There are drugs in my story, but you know, Bill and Bob had drugs in their story too. We use drugs as a cure for alcoholism. I was really fond of the cocaine cure for alcoholism, that’s a really good one. I would be in my house by myself, feeling terror and fear and shame. I’d be looking out the blinds of my kitchen at the street in front of my house, watching the cars go by, not sure if they were the FBI or the Black Panthers. I just knew they were after me.

We did go to the movie theater, which had a parking lot in the back

I don’t have that anymore. I am not alone anymore. I have never felt so not alone than I have in this room. I am surrounded, I am loved. Anything that life hands me, good or bad, I can share it with you. That is a huge gift of sobriety for me. That was a big step for me to trust other people, to identify with other people, to share myself with other people without fear … Well, yeah, I’d had some fear and some shame. You share with your home group and they laugh with you, they know you, they care about you. That is what happened with me.

That’s huge and that makes an incredible difference in my life. To the people who are new, who are concerned that without alcohol the party’s over, I think you can look around and realize the party is just beginning. Life is good, sober life is good. It’s not perfect, we’re not perfect, but it’s full and it’s rich. I was trying to think back to some of my experiences from early sobriety. One of the most striking for me was that I could actually look people in the eye. I could look another human being in the eye. I didn’t have to worry about how red my eyes were, or how stinky my breath was. I could look another human being in the eye and talk with them and share with them.

In How It Works, it reads, “Our stories disclosed in a general way what we were like, what happened and what we’re like now.” I got started early. I had my first drink of alcohol when I was still a baby, I think I was about a year old. My parents were young and poor and they had three kids in four years. Nobody paid a whole lot of attention to their kids. They couldn’t afford babysitters, they’d either take the kids with them to a party or if the party was at their house the kids would be around.

I remember my mother telling a story about them throwing pillows in the bathtub for the kids to sleep in. I was discovered sitting on the floor of the kitchen, surrounded by the almost empty beer bottles that were left from the party. I was with a little boy, and this is one of my many experiences of alcohol and little boys. The two of us were tipping up the beer bottles and enjoying them I assume. I know this because somebody told me, I don’t remember.

We parked in the back and my boyfriend had a six pack

Then my next experience with substance abuse was when I was about two years old. I got into my mother’s purse and I had a baby sister, and she was a crying baby. My mother, she had been taking diet pills because that’s what doctors prescribed for pregnant women, to keep them from gaining too much weight. She just kept on with it. It was a very good way for her to cope with having three kids in four years and working full time.

She also had sleeping pills. The sleeping pills were in her purse. They were red, I assume I thought they were candy and being an alcoholic and addict I took them all. They realized it quickly and I went to the emergency room and I had my stomach pumped out. That’s how I got my start. Nature, nurture, I’m an alcoholic and an addict. I think it was pretty obvious at that point. 

There were lots of things that I had to be drunk to do. One of them was anything to do with the opposite sex. I remember going on a date when I was 14 and we told my parents that we were going to the movies. We did go to the movie theater, which had a parking lot in the back. We parked in the back and my boyfriend had a six pack (I don’t know if he was my boyfriend—he was a boy). We sat in the car and drank and made out, and then it was time for the movie to be over. When the people were streaming out we asked them what it was about so we would have our credible story for my parents. 

To relax, to have fun, to party, I had to be drunk. You know how we are, we want to fit in. Everybody else was doing it and that was that. 

I met somebody and we partied like there was no tomorrow

I’m going to talk about three times when I hit bottom in different ways, to convince you if what I’ve said already hasn’t convinced you that I’m a real alcoholic and addict. Also, I see us speakers’ function a lot of the time is to give hope to newcomers, “Oh my God, if she can get sober I can do it for sure.”

I graduated from high school in 1966, into sex, drugs, rock and roll and the revolution. In 1968 I made my first move to San Francisco, which was a failure but in a lot of ways it was successful. I had dropped out of college and I wanted to go to San Francisco State. They have a really good creative writing department and I wanted to write a great American novel, or something, anyway.

I met somebody and we partied like there was no tomorrow. He didn’t have a real job, I had a job but he didn’t. He didn’t really care how long we stayed out. I had about three, four, five months of literally getting one hour of sleep a night. We’d come in at 5 o’clock in the morning. I’d sleep until 6:00 and then go to work. After months of this I just crashed.

My body couldn’t take it. I got a horrendous case of hepatitis and I had to go home. I flew back to the east coast. I had grown up right outside Washington DC and my parents were still there. I flew home and stayed with them. I was in the hospital for a week. I was really, really sick. Then my sister let me move in with her in Baltimore, where she was going to art school. It was really pathetic because I absolutely could not drink, because my liver was so shot at that point. If anybody’s ever had hepatitis or any kind of liver thing, you take a teaspoon of alcohol and it’s like getting kicked in the side. It really hurt … (To be continued in the July 2021 issue of The Point.)

1 06, 2021

Not a Glum Lot

by Anonymous

These AA folks in the Marin Fellowship I’d started hanging around with professed to not being a glum lot, but I was not in any mood for their kind of sober fun, whatever that looked like. I oozed contempt prior to investigation. Yet I kept coming back. When I found the miracle of sobriety I experienced the joy of which they spoke, as my sponsor guided me. “The old pleasures were gone. They were but memories” (Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 151). When I read these words, I was still drinking at the time. Though sobriety was in my future, it was but a mere speck at the tunnel’s end. The companionship drinking had provided was lost when the court served me a “kick-out order.” No longer did I have a surefire release from care, boredom or worry. Instead these feelings permeated my waking life. 

I attended sober parties with this new attitude and outlook on life. I got involved in 12-Step calls and was asked to sponsor a new man every now and again. As my horizons broadened, so too did my interests in being of service. I was willing to accept life on its terms when I heard the recent end-of-meeting-announcement about a talent show. The Marin Fellowship Intergroup was sponsoring a talent show. All were invited to participate. Due to COVID-19, it was on Zoom. Talk about being rocketed into a fourth dimension, this sounded interesting indeed. What I got was kind of like an updated version of the old TV game show, Hollywood Squares, on steroids – in a good way, well-organized from start to finish.

Talk about being rocketed into a fourth dimension

The tone of the day was set by a songstress who acknowledged she did not have a great voice but she really wanted to share memories from her childhood in songs. She told touching stories about learning verse at her grandma’s knee, turning a ramshackle chicken coop into a clubhouse, and playing bluegrass. A love of music closed her act where it felt like a natural end. In vintage storytelling style, the singing was sparse, punctuating the tales, and then it was done.

Although a Zoom event, the stage was set. So when a popular local singer wowed the audience with her latest new song, it fit with other musicians who followed, each demonstrating their personal favorite tune, including a hit from Frozen. In one case the Zoomers joined the artist in a Cat Stevens song which, if you were old enough to remember, you could not help but welcome the opportunity to belt out a few verses. There was even a surprise visit from the Dynamo Duo of Sonny and Cher (or a couple strongly resembling them). Their duet exhorting the Zoomers to a truth they already held self-evident, that together there “Ain’t no hill or mountain we can’t climb” became the theme of the day’s festivities.

a popular local singer wowed the audience

Joy defined the stage. The spoken word offerings ranged from traditional in nature, a set of engaging raptures which would make any long-gone Bard proud, to blank verse realism. I was reminded of the primary purpose of the recovering alcoholic – to carry the message to the one who still suffers.

“Science” also was prominently on display. A group of “researchers,” claiming to have been at one time on staff with National Geographic, presented their findings from prolonged research into the history of the species known as “Herd of Alcoholics.” They were able to conclusively establish that the first drink of the first alcoholic was actually a Crabappletini, shaken, not stirred, from the Fruit of the Tree of Ignorance. 

The monkey is off my back, but the circus is still in town

Any good alcoholic knows the foolishness of drinking on an empty stomach. The aforementioned researchers also described menu offerings available at “AA Burger, a Drive-Through Recovery Hamburger Palace” which their work was funding. This unknown, but up-and-coming fast-food food chain believes its Pink Cloud of Hope or Second-Time Sober burgers will soon be sweetening the palates of those in recovery. They even offer a Half Measure Menu for those intent on continued research. However, they were also quick to caution that the price of the Relapse Meal Deal with its Resentment Burger was very steep, often more demanding than the diner anticipated.

A trio presenting “Log Cabin Blues” ended the day. They reminded us, “Fear is like having faith that things will all go to hell” which harkened to times past, where they lived one day at a time—but that day was always yesterday or tomorrow. On the upbeat side, they proclaimed a truth so often heard: “The monkey is off my back, but the circus is still in town.”

My takeaway of the day was from the artist who shared not her fine art, but her “fun art.” With the promise of hope, she described how sobriety brought art into her life. Her goal in displaying her talent at this event was to carry the message that in sobriety anything was possible, such as achieving an artist’s talent where before there had been none. So much was on display during this Talent Show that it proved beyond any doubt was: we are definitely not a glum lot.

1 06, 2021

What It Was Like

by Anonymous

Before landing in A.A., I definitely did not see myself as an alcoholic. Sure, I drank a fair amount. I more than kept up with my friends, but that label was not part of my descriptors. Denial is more than that river in Egypt. Consequently, my memory of drinking is hard to come by, but I do have flashbacks of what my life was like. Sure, I was drinking. That’s a given, but my thoughts don’t go to the actual drinking. There was about twenty minutes of joy. The rest is a blur, but I do have mental pictures or flashbacks of what my world was like. 

I owe the biggest amends to my dog

The sink was always full to the brim with soaking dirty dishes. This softening of caked-on food was an integral part of housekeeping duties. The dishes had to soak a long time before I actually washed them.  It happened frequently that I’d run out of plates and have to put on heavy rubber gloves to rescue a plate or two from the swamp.  There were times when the whole process got too smelly, then I’d have to empty the sink and refill it, still unable to take the time to wash the dishes. The water would develop a thick scum with a bit of green color as the dishes continued to soak away, waiting to be washed. There were times when I put a dish towel over the sink to cover the ugliness, but still didn’t have the time to wash the dishes.

I put a dish towel over the sink to cover the ugliness, but still didn’t have the time to wash

During the Summer of Love, I ironed. The ironing board and I were one and the same. It was always up in the living room, in front of the TV, so I could iron and watch TV at the same time. That was when I watched the goings on in San Francisco and dreamed of hanging out with the hippies. My husband wore white uniforms for work, and they needed starch along with the ironing. Ironing got down to a need to use basis.  Semi-wet laundry ironed much easier when it was cold and wet. My refrigerator was full of laundry waiting to be ironed. When I didn’t get to the ironing, it had a tendency to mildew, and it smelled.  This meant I had to take the laundry out and wash it all over again. It was a pain, until I discovered the freezer. Frozen laundry worked just as well as cold laundry and the clothes didn’t get mildewed. 

We will not regret the past or wish to shut the door on it

My biggest amends probably need to go to my poor dog. I didn’t believe in walking him as during the summer, I’d lived on a farm and those dogs never got walked. We had a built-in porch and during the winter months, it was cold, so I’d just let the dog out onto the porch with a bunch of newspapers.  That was his back yard.  He spent most of his time on the porch. A beautiful collie (Lassie’s breed), he was matted and needed brushing.  The porch was also starting to smell. So, I couldn’t let him into the house. One night I let him out and he didn’t return. The game warden found his body alongside a stream by our house. He told me animals were known to go off by themselves like that. That didn’t help. It was many years before I made it into the rooms of A.A. but these flashbacks still haunt me. I know the promise that says, “We will not regret the past or wish to shut the door on it.” 

Maybe as I write of these memories, someone might identify. Today I’m so very thankful for A.A. My sink is never full, and any ironing goes directly to the cleaners. 

1 06, 2021

Pam’s Story

by Bree L.

Mill Valley was I first picked up when my dad, a Hayward cop, left our home.  I hit the streets and worked as a babysitter and with my money bought marijuana, but soon moved to alcohol. I was eleven and in fifth grade. At fourteen, I discovered cocaine even though I was drinking about every day. My freshman year, I quit school. 

A guy turned me out and I was soon arrested for prostitution. The judge sentenced me to live with my dad, who had moved to Oregon. He was working as a probation officer.  I lasted about a year with my dad before being sent to a foster home.  I soon got together with an older guy who lived in Washington.  I hid out with him until I reached sixteen, then I returned to Marin.  I tried to finish high school, but alcohol and drugs got in the way. Besides, I was too far behind with my credits to finish.

I tried to finish high school, but alcohol and drugs got in the way

I went back to baby sitting and couch surfing in Marin, and every so often had to return home to my mom’s.  There was a bedroom at her house, but she’d married a man I was not comfortable around.  He physically abused my brother and was sexually abusive to me. He did things like walking around the house without clothes.

To escape, I met and married a man from Santa Rosa. We were together for ten years and had three children. I worked as a plumber part time and stayed home to take care of my children. It seemed like everything would be okay, but drugs were always around and, of course, alcohol. 

After I had my first child, my one brother showed up at the door. He’d gotten drunk, drove his car and hit and killed a child by Mt. Tam high school. The police gave him a field sobriety test and let him go. He came directly to my house, but later was prosecuted for involuntary manslaughter.  Today, he’s a wet alcoholic and lives in Washington State.

Life caught up with me.  I acquired four DUI’s, lost my license, but kept driving. I was in and out of jail as a result. When I went before the judge the last time, he asked if I wanted a state or civil commitment. I chose the civil and was committed to the California Rehabilitation Center (CRC) where I could receive treatment in prison. My sobriety date is May 15, 2000, the date I left the CRC.  After that I was discharged to Walden House and subsequently to a residential treatment place for six months followed by three months of sober living. I had a long criminal history of forty felonies and twenty misdemeanors. 

My focus today is to live in balance, close to Mother Earth

When I had done my time, I went back to school. I’d finished high school in jail so I started back at Sonoma State and got a BA in Criminal Justice (a subject I knew something about).  I started out working at juvenile hall with young girls and taught at a probation camp for young boys. I also began teaching the drink and driver’s program. When anyone asks me to volunteer for something on the side, my response is always “yes.”

Currently my twelve step program is with the Red Road, a Native American spiritually based program. The Sweat Lodge is my church. There is a Zoom talking circle that meets in Santa Rosa on Tuesdays from six to eight. My focus today is to live in balance, close to Mother Earth as taught by my church.  My working the twelve steps several times over has been life changing.

1 06, 2021

What is Fully Recovered?

by Rob S                                                                                                 

Being a fully-recovered alcoholic means if I throw AA under the bus tomorrow morning, I could be “boiled as an owl” by midnight. This is because I am helpless and hopeless over drink, save for the grace of God and AA. You may think: “What an oxymoron! How can an alcoholic be hopeless and helpless, yet claim to be recovered?”  

Well, one happy ingredient of my recovered status is that “if I should drink” has not occurred to me for many years. It seems to have been removed from my emotional vocabulary. But for a better detailed description, here are a few promises from pages 84 and 85 of the Big Book:

  • We will seldom be interested in liquor. 
  • If tempted, we recoil from it as from a hot flame.
  • We will see that our new attitude toward liquor has been given us without any thought or effort on our part. 
  • We are not fighting it, neither are we avoiding temptation. 
  • We have not even sworn off. Instead, the problem has been removed (the mental obsession, not the physical allergy). It does not exist for us.

I could be “boiled as an owl” by midnight

Not so fastthere is a prerequisite. “That is how we react so long as we keep in fit spiritual condition.”  How? By living in the spirit of Steps 10, 11 and 12

if I throw AA under the bus

Non-Big Book readers might state: “If I were recovered, I’d start drinking again.” This is logical thinking using the normal definition of the word “recovered.” However, those who have studied the Big Book can easily see the folly in that sort of thinking because they understand the allergy/obsession syndrome. The Big Book uses the word “recovered” in a special and technical sense readers can easily understand. I often use the phrase “release from the mental obsession” at meetings to avoid controversy.

1 06, 2021


by John W

Though I knew not yet the bottom, it rose this time with a vengeance like never before,

Yet my hope laid concealed beneath it, just beyond what was my last trap door.

Arrogantly I needed not, cared not, dared not to admit complete defeat,

But my life, my reality could not have been clearer, John Barleycorn had me beat.

Ignoring the doc’s advice I watched as family, job, home slowly died with me.

My end was in sight, it seemed ordained, que sera, sera, what would be, would be.

My days had become oh so very long, my nights were oh so very dark.

My soul in silence screamed to be free, from its plea came the spark.

Looking back, it was for the wrong reasons that help I sought.

I wanted not what these “losers” had, their suggestions I fought.

But my line, my jumping off point, was there and I had come to it.

I could press on to the bitter end or accept and use the tools in their kit.

Somehow I became willing and I trudged, as they said: one day at a time,

With the promise that a new freedom, a new happiness, with work would be mine.

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