From the March 2011 magazine.

His Life Changed While He Ate His Oatmeal

His long downward slide ended one day as he ate his breakfast at a state mental hospital

"The orderly just smiled, checked my blood pressure, and then un-handcuffed me so I could eat breakfast."

My first real gift toward recovery from my addiction was a serendipitous awareness of a Higher Power. After a superlative academic performance in college and graduate school, I had gone through two or three teaching jobs that fell victim to “vodka-breath.” I quickly learned that my learning just didn’t “cut it” in the real world. The cops had no interest in my GPA or my resume, and the hospital emergency rooms made matters tolerable by dispensing a small glass of what I was certain was condensed dead fish (paraldehyde). Upon QUICK discharge from a couple of ER’s, I discovered that the Salvation Army or the cops would offer me a warm place to sleep it off. Unfortunately, I felt and expressed some superiority over the folks in the Sally.(Back to the street!) The cops waited until they could understand what I was belly-aching about, then they, too, turned me back out on the street. 

On one of these releases (that implies there was more than one occurrence—or two, or 10, or 20!), I began to remember that I was in an alley, there was a dumpster, and I knew that 2nd Street was just around the corner. There was a drying out storefront mission there, and by the time I made the ½ block exhausting walk to the mission door, a very large fellow with a very deep voice looked at me and said, “I’m Jack.  Would you like a cup of coffee?” I shook my head “No”, but his voice boomed, “It’s free, and I’ve got plenty of it!” Who was I to walk away from free coffee? That man took me to my first AA meeting, and I was terrified. Those folks talked about God, about wives and children, about getting a job, and about feeling good about themselves. I knew I was in the wrong place and with the wrong people.

-- Anonymous

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