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September 1988

Living On Borrowed Time

I am an alcoholic who hasn't had a drink since June 1986. I often find myself looking in the mirror and saying these words: Thank you, God, for showing me the way to AA. You see, I'm one human being who's grateful to be alive. The way I was going, I really never thought I would live this long.

I was born in Puerto Rico, but my family left the island in the fifties when I was only four years old. Practically all my life was spent in New York--Brooklyn. I was raised up in the ghetto streets of Williamsburg, and this is where life for me turned into a living hell.

I remember I started drinking in junior high school in 1960. At that time the parties were called gigs and those oldies but goodies were spinning and there was much wine all over the place. As time went by I was introduced to pot. What a perfect combination, I thought--alcohol and pot. As long as I was on cloud nine, I was doin' just fine. I soon met dope and didn't get to finish high school--dropped out--and all the time drinking up a storm.

I finally managed to cut loose from the dope. But I kept drinking alcohol, more than ever--round the clock, staying drunk practically all the time except when I was dead out. Thinking I was a street slicker who knew all the angles, I thought I would have no problem cutting alcohol loose, too--easy as one, two, three. I soon found out how wrong I was. That macho man attitude really went to my head. King Alcohol put a hurting on me that almost killed me. It sent me to hospitals and jails again. It destroyed my marriage and was destroying me, physically and mentally, little by little. Something inside me realized this, so I started to make a move--a geographical, that is.

I came back to my native Puerto Rico looking forward to changing my way of living. But when I opened my eyes, I was getting deeper and deeper into death road. I couldn't seem to stop drinking, no matter where I was. Down here in Puerto Rico, I finally landed in a hospital for the last time, where I was detoxed.

This was my bottom in my life. While I was in the hospital, something in my mind said to me: You have nothing to lose. But if you keep going the way you are, you're going to lose your life. Down deep in my mind and heart I wanted to keep on living. But I thought there was no way out for me.

Suddenly my mind went back to an AA group that used to come in to Rikers Island prison in New York. I had attended one meeting, but I didn't pay much attention, just went for the two cigarettes they gave each inmate. Something funny lit up in my mind and suddenly AA was in the picture. "Why not?" I said to myself.

As soon as I was released from the hospital I started to get information about AA. A lady friend of the family, who knew I was trying to stop drinking, came to visit me the same day I got out of the hospital. She told me she had a couple of AA friends and asked me if I wanted to speak to them. I answered with a quick yes. "How about tonight?" she said.

That night a car pulled up in front of my house and started blowing its horn. I stepped out to see who it was. Two guys stepped out of the car and asked if my name was Wilson. They introduced themselves and said they were AAs. They had come to take me to a meeting.

I didn't know what I would find in an AA meeting or how the people would respond when I appeared at "their" meeting. Everything in my mind was negative. When these people find out who I am--the trash, the ex-con, the no-good street hood raised in New York--they won't want nothing to do with me. But when I arrived it was nothing like I had in my confused mind. The people there received me warmly and everyone shook my hands. They gave me good vibes and I felt welcomed. They even served me coffee. They cared, and that impressed me. Everyone took seats and the meeting got started.

That night I grasped on to what was being said with my heart and soul. To me it was the first day of my life.

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