Sunday Sundries …
It was a quiet Sunday here at home. The day was sunny and gave way to darkness shortly after arriving at the church this evening. I had some stops to make along the way so I was out early.
The church was dark when I got there. I was arranging chairs when my partner in crime walked in to make coffee. It was a full meeting. We sat all the chairs I put out. We’ve been putting out more chairs than usual, with the same thought from Thursday night. Too many chairs = enough people sat …
We read from Chapter 1 of the Big Book – Bill’s Story.
And from this read we gather that Bill lived through some of the hardest and most challenging of times. Wars, The Great Depression, etc, etc … And in and amongst those times was one constant … The drink … It was present in all times, no matter the disparity or excess …
And one of our fellows shared that back in the day, it was normal for one to have a bottle in one’s desk, just waiting for that 5 o’clock hour to come and then crack the bottle.
For me it was the same. Alcohol was just ever present. It was part of the social calendar. There was always events to drink to. That was explicit during holiday gatherings.
I note in passing that I have told you a story about my life and I mentioned my Step mother, who introduced me to certain people in my life, those people were unacceptable to my father. My Step Mother … a euphemism.
Over the last week, the man who was her husband had died, after a long battle with illness and had a recent fall which paralyzed him from the chest down, He lasted a month and a couple of weeks and died last week.
This man, was a participant in my life. Out of the core families that were associated during that time in my life, they were the most well off of the bunch. He was a lawyer and my step mother worked in the office with him. Their two daughters, were friends I grew up with over the whole of my life.
It was at their house that we spent a great deal of time during the holidays. And it was also there that we, as young people, did a great amount of drinking, because it was free, available and provided by our man.
Like I said, there was always an excuse to drink. And in Bill’s story, from the book, there was always an excuse to drink, to the point of utter insanity.
Growing up and graduating High School and into the first two years in college and seminary, Once I left those institutions, and gained employment, alcohol was always present.
I managed a travel agency, early on in my career life. And I imagine, if I had my head correctly screwed onto my shoulders, and had I found answers to some of my questions during that time, I probably would have prospered.
But that was not in the cards for me.
Most of the adults I worked with were drinkers. Along with my main boss and other office workers. It was normal to have liquor in the office. To serve to clients and guests. Each of us had our chosen poison. Be it liquor, spirits or champagne. It would come to pass much later on down the timeline that most of the folks I worked with, parents of some of my friends I grew up with, eventually got sober. I was the last …
Our alcoholism was so rampant, and we did such good business with some pretty great air carriers, like Pan American and Varig airlines. If we needed free tickets, all we had to do was ask and they would be provided based on our business with them.
And it would not be strange to find ones self on a flight to any great city in America, like New York, San Francisco, Chicago and later on Rio and Buenos Aires. Because one did not only take weekends to fly off, just to fly, it was also to drink. Nothing tasted better than champagne at 10,000 feet…
And we did this numerous times.
I remember my first trip abroad. I was a teen age drunk. We flew Pan Am, on standby first class tickets. Originating in Miami, my boss and I flew to London, and then on to Munich Germany, and Austria. We took the train into Italy and on the return, not being able to get a flight out of Rome, we “railed” it all the way to Zurich to get a flight to New York and back to Miami.
The common thread through this trip was alcohol. I drank my way across Europe. Like any great alcoholic. And I know that my boss tried to ditch me in several foreign cities because of my drinking. But he ended up sticking with me all the way back to Miami.
By the time I reached the New York leg of the return trip, I was pretty resentful and angry at him. (Little did I know the real reason that I should or shouldn’t be angry at him)…
I WAS a complete drunk. It was a challenge, but I always found a reason to drink. It was a “no-brainer” that we arrived in Germany during Oktoberfest and I found my way to a pub on a tour and drank myself into utter despair.
The Germans on the trip were all sitting shot gun watching me down pint after pint of dark stout beer, betting how many it would take to knock me down.
On the bus back into the city, I was so sick that I put that bus out of service. That’s all I remember of that day and that trip. I had totally embarrassed my keeper and minder.
I was a bottomless drunk. That was terribly sad, to look back on it now. How devastating this disease is, and the lengths we will go to to get a drink and the excuses we make up to just “have another…”
Like it is written in the Big Book … “I had been seriously ill, bodily and mentally.”
And I remained woefully ill, bodily and mentally for the greater part of the next decade of my life. And then some.
Alcoholics of every stripe try to find workable ways to drink. Moderating the drink daily or every other day, periods of controlled drinking, that do not last very long, then moderating the amount one drank, so as not to drink too much in any given period, until we admit, mind body and spirit that we are licked.
And for most that came in admitting our defeat of the drink and the admission of powerlessness over the drink, and the manageability of our lives.
Over the course of my drinking career, I moderated my drinking. I went from drinking every day to every other day, to weekends, and special occasions, and from that to the once weekly binging. I could not maintain a daily drinking regimen, so I tailored my drink to one party night a week.
Even that became too much in the end.
In a few weeks I will mark 11 years sober. Tonight a lady friend of the group tonight took an 18 year cake. I’ve watched her grow up and prosper over the last ten years. I’m really grateful for the people in the meetings and the friendships I have today, with people just like me.
It is good to “Read the Book” amongst my fellows.
Because I can reflect on the spot and share stories like this with you, that remind me how bad it was in my life when I was really active in my addiction to alcohol. I was stuck in the mix too young and with no way out, or no signposts on the way to say … Hey you have a problem, or … Maybe you should stop … There was none of that. We were all stuck in the drink.
Thanks God that most of the players in my life story eventually got sober.
But for the grace of God …