From the September 2010 magazine.

South of the border

A swedish businessman sobers up and gets active in the early days of AA in Mexico City

Anders: How did you come into AA?

John: I.d like to start my story at a point a long time ago, when I was very sick. I had spent about a week in bed, together with a bottle of rum. I just did not have the power to get up. My wife had spoken to our doctor and he had mentioned something called Alcoholics Anonymous and finally, on a Sunday afternoon, I called a number. I spoke to a man called Frank, who told me that he.d been sober for five years and that if he could do it so could I. And he also promised to pick me up the following Tuesday and take me to an AA meeting. At the time we were living in Mexico City, where one English-speaking group and one Spanish-speaking group.in the next room.were the only AA groups in Mexico. I was very nervous and scared, but that Monday I didn.t drink, and on Tuesday I kept clean until late afternoon. Then I became so frightened I had to have a drink, in order to be able to go out through the door and meet people. I had two stiff rum and cokes to calm my nerves. Frank arrived and he agreed to take me even though I wasn.t quite sober. There were some 20 people at the meeting. I sat in the back row and listened, but I didn.t really understand what they were talking about. I did get a strong feeling that these people were speaking the truth. And I also noticed that they laughed; they laughed a lot. I didn.t really see that this alcohol thing was a laughing matter, but I liked the laughs. After the meeting we had coffee. A fellow called Jack came up and talked to me. He realized I was very lost and suggested we go around the corner for a cup of coffee and more talk. I was feeling generous so I thought, Well, I suppose I can give this fellow half an hour of my time and hear what he has to say. So we went around the corner to a café and we talked and talked and talked. We spent nearly four hours talking and you know, I haven.t had a drink since that night. I got home and told my wife about it all, and she seemed very encouraged. The next day Jack turned up and took me to a doctor he knew who put me into a hospital for detox. That same night Jack returned for more talk and as he was leaving he left something for me to read on my bedside table: the Big Book. I was sick and medicated, I couldn.t sleep, and I started reading. I read most of the book that first night, but I really didn.t understand much until I got to the section of personal stories entitled .They Stopped in Time.. I had a tremendous experience of identification. I remember I cried to myself, mostly out of self-pity of course, but today I realize it was also a matter of identification, .This is me; I.m like that.. I got out of hospital the next. On Monday I had to go back to work, and I was scared stiff because I had been warned that I would be fired if I drank again. So I was very nervous as I entered the boss.s office. But I went straight to the point and told him what had happened. He told me to get back to work. So I went back to my office. I worked there for a number of years.

-- ANDERS P.

Stockholm, Sweden

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