Dr. Bob’s Nightmare Part 1
The weather is holding. It was a beautiful night to be out and about. I departed early for the church and my helper lady friend was waiting for me. We cranked out set up and coffee and then sat and chilled before the meeting.
We are finally at the stories in the back of the Big Book. This first chapter The Pioneers of A.A. speaks about these 10 stories that show that sobriety is A.A. can be lasting.
Pioneers of A.A. …
Dr. Bob and the nine men and women who here tell their stories were among the early members of A.A.’s first groups.
All ten now have passed away of natural causes, having maintained complete sobriety.
Today, hundreds of additional A.A. members can be found who have had no relapse for more than fifty years.
All of these, then, are the pioneers of A.A. They bear witness that release from alcoholism can really be permanent.
We began reading Dr. Bob’s Nightmare.
A co-founder of alcoholics anonymous, The birth of our society dates from his first day of permanent sobriety, June 10, 1935.
To 1950, the year of his death, he carried the message to more than 5,000 alcoholic men and women, and to all these he gave his medical services without thought of charge.
In this prodigy of service, he was well assisted by Sister Ignatia at St. Thomas Hospital in Akron, Ohio, one of the greatest friends our fellowship will ever know.
Through the beginning of his story, we learn where Bob came from how he did as a young child and teen, and into his adult life. And at some point he crossed the invisible line into uncontrollable alcoholism.
He became somewhat functional when applying himself. But there at the came time, we read, when alcoholism stunted his growth both emotionally and academically. But in the end he pulled out the stops and finished his schooling.
We stopped at this point in the story till next week.
It seemed everybody fixated on academic stories and how alcoholism made it into our lives as young people.
I guess I will share some stories with you about that time in my life as well.
Bob was an only child, he speaks about it.
I was the first of two children, and had three years on my brother who came later. And I was thinking about this tonight and what I had seen as a small child being raised in the homes of die hard alcoholics. My grandfather was much farther gone than my father.
He had to have alcohol – all over the house. He was a bottle hider. He drank around the clock and especially before bed, as there was a bottle under the kitchen sink.
My father was a heavy drinker, yet, he was functional. In hindsight, I don’t remember him ever being taken away from work because of drinking, in all the years I lived at home. He seemed to skate through unscathed.
I on the other hand, was raised in a “nobody speaks of it” and there “is no solution and you lived with your lot” mentality. Alcohol was a major food group and was a daily ritual.
I began the task of bartender for my father when I was able to reach the kitchen counter and be able to mix him his nightly highball after work. Growing up and moving house in grade school, we bought a huge house with bedrooms, a yard, in ground sprinkler system and a POOL !!! We had hit the big time.
My father had two cabinets for alcohol. And a standing bar in the dining room. My brother and I grew up not far from alcohol. My drinking started in high school and it was a big part of socialization.
It was beer, that I found satisfying. Until my friends introduced hard liquor into the mix. We would have binge and purge parties where we would serve copious amounts of alcohol to party goers. For the girls we had a fail proof system to bring them to a party, get them drunk, and then get them home sober after our tried and true sober work after the fact.
The girls would bring two sets of clothing with them to the party. We would all drink, and they would get sauced over and over. One of us drove the first sober car, driving around town until they puked up what they drank and sobered up.
Then we handed them off to a second house for them to wash and redress, before the third car would finally bring them home.
I drank heavily in high school. And it showed in my work. I was an athlete and swam in junior and senior year and finally lettered.
Two significant occurrences in high school come to mind.
One, our final S.A.T. test. By this point we had taken that damned test twice and in my senior year, we had to take it again, a third time.
The night prior we all got drunker than drunk. I remember my friends bringing me home, BOMBED !!! Telling my mother that I was just a little sick because of the test the next day.
The next day I went to the school and my test location was in the library, which was in the biology wing of the school, there was a bathroom and gym workout hall in the same wing.
The module would start and I would begin bubbling in my answers, eventually I would get the heaves and have to rush to the bathroom and purge and get back into the library to finish each module in the time allotted.
I know, when all was said and done, my third score was higher than the first two.
Two, in my senior year I was drinking heavily and my studies were paying the price. I was passing, albeit, by the skin of my teeth. I was no mathematician and hated the subject. No matter how hard I tried I could not “get it.”
I was not part of the “in crowd” that partied together and cheated together. I ran in another social grouping. On my last math exam, I knew I was not going to pass, but in a “Hail Mary” kind of motion …
The cheat sheet had gone around prior to the exam. And I was not privy to that cheat sheet. I took that exam, however impaired I was at the time, on the last page of the exam I offered this to my prof …
“The exam is complete. I would also tell you that I am the only one in this room that did not cheat on this exam … “
I passed math, therefore, I graduated with my fellows.
My drinking career began in earnest after graduation. I knew something about myself that others did not. I am sure my parents were picking up on it. And my racist, homophobic, bible quoting, but never went to church father, continued to “beat it out of me, because I was abhorrent.”
When I finally moved away, I could drink without impunity. I have stated in the past that when I moved out on my own, I knew NOTHING about responsibility.
Paying rent, buying food, and making a car payments came second and third to my drinking. To the point that my car got re-possessed. That was a clincher for my parents. Probably, resentfully, my father bailed me out. We never spoke about it, but I am sure he never forgot nor forgave me about allowing alcoholism take something away.
I am sure they thought that I could not hold my alcohol in check like they did, and they would have been correct. I was a step beyond than my father.
That period of my life from 21 to 26 I was sunk in the drink. I got sober once, and became responsible. I had a really good job. And men who loved me. They saved my life.
The story does not change. I went out and stayed out a number of years, until I returned in 2001. God moved heaven and earth. And I decided to grow up and become a man, finally, whatever that meant.
I would not figure out what my manhood meant to me until much later. That is another story.
Moving out of the country was the best move I ever made in my life, however hated I was for leaving the country of my birth, it was an absolute break from the misery I was living at the time.
Coming to Montreal sober began the next leg of my journey. I was 34 years old. I had failed out of junior college and could not afford University in the U.S. so I didn’t go on. I had a place to live and meetings to go to.
And at my First Anniversary, I was asked what I wanted to do next, by my aftercare counselor, and I said, that I wanted to go back to school. By then I was hitched and living with my then boyfriend. That was a nine year academic career which I graduated with two degrees, Religion and Pastoral Ministry.
I have not had a drink in almost twelve years now. I came here sober and this is where I am going to die sober. One day at a time.
I have this hindsight to parse my life, and those of my family to figure out what made us tick, what made us drink and where that led us.
I do not know my father or mother or my brother. I am pariah still to this day and in their lives, they have shut off my light switch as punishment for defying my father’s social gospel. It has been more than 13 years.
I do not mourn them any more.
Many emotional reasons, alcoholism, lies and secrets tore apart my family, I may be the only sober member today, but who knows. I will never know.
It is a living amends to stay sober one day at a time.
More to come, stay tuned …