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A Grateful Alcoholic

Thomas G, Kansas

I was around seven years old. Dad was painting my sisterís house. He had a can of beer sitting on a tree stump. I looked at that beer and wondered how it tasted. I waited for the precise moment. I was going to take a drink of it and see why he liked it so well. The instant he went around the corner of the house and could no longer see the can on the stump, I rushed over and took a drink. Immediately, I felt something. I felt warm and fuzzy. I absolutely loved the taste of it and the way it made me feel. Sip after sneaky sip, I finished that beer.

My family, I suppose, was your typical Midwestern family. My mother was very religious. She insisted that we go to church every Sunday. I hated church. I was very small for my age and the other kids made fun of me. My dad was addicted to work. He was at work from six in the morning until seven at night. The only real memory of him that I have in my childhood is how he would come home from work, drink a couple of beers, and fall asleep in the chair. Usually he would not even finish his beer. That was okay. I finished it for him.

We moved when I was in the sixth grade, and I was not accepted by the other kids in the new town. I was a loner. I was a nerd. I did very well in school but was not a popular kid. Then one day the football star decided he liked me. He asked me to hang out with him and another friend one Friday night. They had a twelve-pack of beer and a bag of tortilla chips. We drove around, drank a few beers, and went to a party. Wow, I was cool. Girls talked to me, popular kids talked to me, and I was no longer a nerd. My grades began to drop. I started to borrow money from my parents for things that did not exist. It seemed that the more I drank, the more popular I became. I loved it. I would do anything to maintain that feeling of importance.

I discovered pot shortly after high school. I never cared much for it. It weakened my ability to drink, and I seemed to get sick a lot easier. Then I was introduced to this little white powder. That stuff was great! I could drink gallons and not get drunk. I could party for days.

After ten years of drinking and drugging, a few short stays in jail, a thousand promises to quit, and a million lies, my wife decided that she had had enough. She and the kids were going to leave. She thought I had a problem. She said I needed to get some help. I thought, I'll show her! I'll go to those Alcoholics Anonymous meetings (the courts had sent me previously). I'd get sober long enough to change her mind. She left anyway. I got drunk again. You see, I wasn't getting sober for me. I was doing it for her. It didn't work.

I went on a week-long drunk and finally found myself lying on the floor crying. What was wrong with me? I had lost everything that I had ever cared about because of my drinking and drug use and there I was doing it all over again. Why couldn't I stop? Why?

"God help me!" I cried.

He did.

I went back to A.A. meetings and did it a little differently this time. I did it for me. I accepted that my family was not coming back. But I knew that I would die if I kept drinking. I was in a lot of emotional pain and there was a lot of self-resentment. I think it would have killed me to drink enough to numb that hurt. Instead, I got myself a sponsor and began working the Twelve Steps. I immersed myself in A.A. I went to meetings every night, listened to A.A. speaker tapes, became a member of The e-AA Group on the Internet, and read every piece of A.A. literature that I could find.

I have not had a drink since that night I said the little three-word prayer.

Slowly, very slowly, the desire to drink began to leave. I began to live life on life's terms, and I began to love every minute of it. Taking one day at a time, knowing that if today was rough, tomorrow would be easier, I started to become happy with myself and my life.

Many good things have begun to come into my life. My family has returned, which certainly has not been easy but has been wonderful. I have started getting things set right with my creditors. I have become a trustworthy and responsible person. I have even started on my journey toward my lifelong dream: I have registered at the college I had failed to attend after graduating from high school some twelve years ago. I am doing my best to practice the principles set down in the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous in my everyday life.

Living sober has not been easy. Life on life's terms can really be hard sometimes but I am not alone. I can deal with life's challenges as they come and get through them without taking a drink. Today I am glad to be alive, I am glad to be sober, and I am eternally grateful to God for saving my life and giving me the gift of the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous and the design for living outlined by the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.

Life is good, and only by staying sober can I truly live and experience the wonder of it all.

I'm Thomas, and I'm an alcoholic.

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