Article Hero Image
February 2002

These Good, Rewarding Years

I was born in a middle-class family at the end of the Second World War. The first six months of my life, my relatives and a housekeeper took care of me because my mother was ill. I had a brother who was a couple of years older than I am. He was from early childhood an exceptionally talented person. I myself was mediocre in almost every respect. Both my parents were completely sober, intellectually active, and well-educated--useful members of our community. My father died of cancer when I was twelve years old. I developed strong negative feelings of insecurity, jealousy, fear.

I took my first drink when I was thirteen years old and very soon started to drink regularly. Alcohol cured my negative feelings. From the first, I drank to become dead drunk. As long as I lived at home, I drank secretly. I had a strong desire to save my face in front of my family, so I used to go to our summer cottage to hunt because it was an acceptable reason to be away from home. Many times when I was drinking, I was in serious danger to myself because of combination of alcohol and guns.

My heavy drinking became still heavier when I went to study at a university six hundred kilometers from my home. I was now free. I could do what I wanted, and what I wanted was to drink--heavily. Very quickly I got into many difficulties. I tried to get help from psychiatrists, but because I could not be honest with these good people, they could not help me. I got medicine with the warning "Don't use with alcohol." I didn't heed this and so began a terrible merry-go-round when I combined pills and alcohol. It's a wonder to me that I got my degree during those years.

My last bout of drinking started in May 1968 and ended six weeks later. In June, very drunk, I went to my first AA meeting. I sat in the meeting for a while and then I started to give orders. Somebody shouted, "That boy is drunk--throw him out!" And so I was kicked out of my first AA meeting. When I went outside, I bumped into someone I'd met several weeks earlier in business. He asked me if I wanted to stop drinking, and I said yes. I don't know why I said this because I'd never wanted to stop drinking.

I sobered up at once and started to go to meetings regularly. In meetings I said, "I am an alcoholic," but what I thought was, "I am not." However, during my first year I became convinced that I was a real alcoholic, despite the fact that I was only twenty-four years old.

I have been sober all these good, rewarding years. I have taken part in AA meetings but for me that has not been enough. I also needed lots of work with the Steps and my sponsors. For years I have been an eager reader of the AA Grapevine. Especially important have been those articles that emphasized the continuing work with the Steps. Now I can believe what my sponsor said during my early years in AA: "You can't imagine the rich and wonderful life you will get if you stay sober in AA."

Have Something You Want To Share?

We want to hear your story! Submit your story and it could be published in a future issue of AA Grapevine!

Submit your Story