By John W.

Before, it had always been so linear. When confronted with a problem, or otherwise looking for a solution, I applied my best analytics to the circumstances and made a decision. If things turned out bad, I had a drink. It made the mistake seem not so glaring. If things turned out well, I had a drink. After all, one was entitled to “take one’s comfort” [in my case it was of the “Southern” variety] after a successful venture or experience. Of course before the decision was confronted or chosen, I had to have a drink to allow me to get focused on the problem, to clear away the distractions, as I once explained to my bartender. My problem was that “one” was never enough. “One too many,” was never more than enough.

When finally driven to A.A., and not on a string of victories, a man tried to help.  He  actually answered one of my calls when no one else would. We talked about my predicament, wife, job, children and, of course, my drinking. He told me that while I likely would not believe it, if I were willing to follow a few simple suggestions, my life would change. He further predicted it would be in ways I could not then imagine or believe possible. To which I responded, “Yeah, but you see my circumstances are different.” Then I would explain things to Mike.

This badinage continued for a bit. To each observation as to the unmanageability of my life served by Mike, I would volley back a “Yeah but” retort. Like a Wimbledon champion on the court with a rank amateur, he ran me from side to side, baseline to net. I was always a step too slow or a return too weak. Every point I thought I made was shredded by Mike’s simple observation of the truth I obscured with my denial. My “Yeah buts” met their match.

So I asked him what I would have to do to be as successful as he had been in the Program of Alcoholics Anonymous. He replied, “Just work the Steps like your life depended upon it, because it does, and you’ll be OK.”

With new-found conviction, I hooked up with a sponsor and we started the process.  My “day at Wimbledon” broke  down most of my barriers.  My sponsor took care of the last vestiges of grandeur and denial I harbored. Still my thinking was linear, still I expected that “treat” to  focus, to console or to congratulate. A pattern that demanded change. So I asked my sponsor “What do you have to replace this process within me – that is all I have ever known?”  It was then we discussed The Decision. While turning over my life seemed to make sense, and I was  convinced it was unmanageable, turning over my will was not the same thing.  

By then I learned the suggestions worked. I was willing to try. As it worked with the drink, now I could  live this new life I was given by the same spiritual principles that saved it. What an order! Could I go through with it? At times it seems anything like the answer to this inquiry is the foregone conclusion of “Yes.” I believe the journey I have walked thus far, one step at a time, one day at a time, demands I repay that Power which brought me here. I have learned I must do so with the respect and honor the drowning man would give the sailor who had hauled him to safety from the foaming sea. I can offer nothing less for the life I was so freely given. Still the doubt is there, the “Yeah but” rears its hooded head, ready to strike with cobra’s speed to infuse the venom of doubt into my veins. I know not what works for others. Nay, only what has worked for me, where my only defense against this lethal apparition is to say something like:  “God, I offer myself to thee, …”  However, I can also truly say it works – it really does. This is a change, neither imagined nor predicted, but with which I can live today.

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