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Post Info TOPIC: Letter To A Woman Alcoholic


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Letter To A Woman Alcoholic
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Source:  Good Housekeeping, March 1954


A Letter To A Woman Alcoholic


Wherever you are, at whatever stage in the long descent, this is for you.
It says nothing of shame or scorn or ridicule; it brings only love and
understanding. And help


If I lived across the street from you and saw you gallantly but
hopelessly struggling against your ailment and spoke to you sometimes
when you couldn't avoid meeting me, I'd not dare to tell you what I want
to tell you now. You wouldn't let me, because you'd be afraid of me.
You'd think I was in the world- wide conspiracy against you; you'd resent
me for suspecting your secret agony.


If we looked into each other's faces, I couldn't find a way of letting
you know I love the sight of you. I couldn't tell you that I find nothing
in you to despise or ridicule or preach at, for you wouldn't let me speak
about what is your fatal malady. We'd both pretend it doesn't exist.


So I am having to write to you. I am writing you a letter and putting it
in this safe place, where you will find it and hide it from your family
and then read it.


You and I begin by having one bond in common: We both know you are
secretly worried to death about your drinking.


You may be any age - a college girl, a young mother, an admired
professional woman, the wife of your town's most prominent citizen, a
staid-looking grandmother. You may be an extrovert and the life of the
party or a frightened, inferior-feeling little person who has to pour
courage out of a bottle before attempting anything, no matter how simple
it seems to other people.


You may have been drinking for months or years. You would be horrified
and deny it hotly if anyone called you an alcoholic, but secretly you are
wondering whether you are one. I'll answer that immediately by saying
that if you can't control your drinking, if you drink more than you would
like to admit, the chances are you are an alcoholic. When I say that
word, I have named a person afflicted with a disease. It grows
progressively worse, constantly narrowing one's world until nothing is
desired and nothing is real but alcohol.


Because you are a woman, your drinking life is probably most secretive,
for you have done everything possible to hide it from everyone, even from
yourself. And you may have succeeded. Perhaps nobody knows - yet - that
you ever take a drink. For you dare not drink one cocktail in public,
knowing that the first drink is the stumble at the top of a long flight
down which you will inevitably tumble. You may become a "bedroom
drinker," and I may have followed you at this moment into your own room,
where you intend to reach for a bottle hidden under your lingerie or in
an innocent hatbox on the top shelf. Your family may not yet be
suspicious of your frequent "headaches."


On the other hand, you may be one of those shadows who live their lives
in the twilight of bars and cocktail lounges. You may be the neighborhood
problem or the town scandal. Your family may have stopped trying to cover
up for you; not even your children try to make excuses for you any more.
Or you may even have lost your family because you were helpless about
your drinking.


But at whatever stage you are at this moment, there is hope for you here.
And neither blame nor shame should be attached to you. You do not deserve
the self- righteous pleadings and the aggrieved accusations that everyone
has showered on you. "If you loved us, you'd stop." "You think of nobody
but yourself." "You should be ashamed of yourself, with all your
education and opportunity!" You are not a selfish, immoral monster.
Indeed you are quite the opposite. You are a desperately ill woman.


After you realize this, the next fact for you to accept is that you are
free from any guilt. When you admit you are an alcoholic, you no longer
deserve to be blamed and punished (beyond the inhuman punishment you have
been giving yourself). You must only recognize that you are ill. Your
illness is dangerous. It can destroy everything it comes near; unless it
is arrested it can destroy the mind and the body of its victim. But it is
no more your "fault" than having hay fever or diabetes would be. Alcohol
is a poison to you if you are an alcoholic.


You are not alone in the indescribable torture that is alcoholism. There
are countless thousands of women like you in early or late stages of
falling to pieces. Of the sixty-five million people in our country who
use alcohol, more than four million are problem drinkers. An estimated
650,000 of these are women. It is difficult to count them accurately,
because women, especially housewives, can hide their condition better
than men. They can hide it, at least, for a while. But the woman
alcoholic suffers more acutely than does the man; her psychology and
constitution are more complex and more sensitive. She can endure her
self-loathing less easily, and she feels much more keenly the social
stigma an ignorant society still puts on alcoholism. I don't need to tell
you that, I'm sure. I wish with all my heart it were mere interesting
theory to you, but I know it is not.


The bravado that insulates men alcoholics does not come to women like you
until they have almost killed their real selves within their ill bodies.
I have heard many women alcoholics say, " I was completely dead inside
myself. Nothing could reach me and help me."


It is difficult for most women to admit, even to themselves, that they
are alcoholics. Yet this admission is their first step toward sobriety
and sanity. If you have not taken that first step already, let me help
you make it today. For if you can admit that your inner panic and
devastation are symptoms of alcoholism, you are ready for help.


My purpose in writing this letter to you is to tell you that, in spite of
your desperate illness, you can "rejoin the human race" and live a
reasonable normal life. In fact you will find that life to be much
happier than average living. You will not return to the old life you
enjoyed before alcoholism overwhelmed you. That life was not good enough
for you; you tried to escape your frustration and despair by losing it in
drink. This life I'm going to tell you about lies on the other side of a
great experience, and you can find it and be exactly what God had in mind
when He made you.


Alcoholics Anonymous is what I'm writing to you about. It has stopped the
drinking of nearly a quarter of a million (Ed.note: As of 1954. Today we
number in the millions)desperate, defeated men and women and redesigned
their lives. If you are willing and humble enough to let it work for you,
it will not only make today's drink your last one forever but will give
you a new way of life, indescribably good and of benefit to all who see
it.


The general public has little comprehension of the way A.A. works, and,
in fact nobody can explain it intellectually. But there is multiplied
evidence that it does work. After admitting yourself to be powerless over
alcohol, if you sincerely want help, you ask a power greater than
yourself to take over your life. On a superficial level this would mean
little. But on the deep emotional plane where this asking occurs (and
with all your suffering endorsing the plea), the strongest force a human
being can experience is released. The presence of this felt power is
stronger than the alcohol, which up to that moment had been the paramount
urge, overmastering love of family, self-respect, and self-preservation
itself. The A.A.'s cannot easily discuss this tremendous experience. But
it does not need to be discussed; its results are beyond any doubting.
Nobody knows how it works, but it does.


Let's talk about you a minute. How did you become an alcoholic in the
first place? Not just out of cussedness or meanness, of course. Medical
science and psychiatry have established the fact that many people drink
to excess from emotional causes. I've know two women who became
alcoholics because they lost their children, and many because their
husbands failed them. Most alcoholics are perfectionists and idealists.
They expect to accomplish wonders with their lives; when they cannot live
up to their ideals, they cannot face their disappointment in themselves.


In spite of what others usually believe, alcoholics have terrific
consciences. They care so deeply about everything that they cannot endure
the stress and strain of worry. When an irresistible conscience meets an
immovable inability to endure the agony of worry, there's a wide-open
invitation to excess drinking. Emotional conflicts in you supersensitive
people become so unbearable that escape, amounting to total obliteration,
is sought. In some alcoholics a feeling of inferiority born in childhood
builds up a compensation mechanism that creates egotism gluttonous for
praise and success and never satisfied with what is offered to it. In
women, the too fat ego demands flattery, indulgence, and, in some cases,
continual romance. Disappointed in her excessive demands for perfection,
a frustrated woman sometimes believes the dreamy promises of alcohol, the
heartless deceiver.


When these extreme emotional tensions exist in addition to bodily
allergy, alcoholic ruin is inevitable. People drink because they are
unhappy; they are unhappy because they drink; and the vicious spiral
whirls on until one cannot tell which was cause and which effect.


The way back from this unfathomable torture must include treatment for
both the emotional obsession and the physical illness. Psychiatry and
medicine have worked together on thousands of cases and in some have been
successful. But their record of permanent success is discouragingly low.
The alcoholic is called the "heartbreak of the medical profession,"
because all too often the physician knows that the beaten, suicidal body
he is restoring will come back to him in a few months in exactly the
same, or a worse condition.


The positive results of Alcoholics Anonymous are inexplicably high. It is
usually estimated that nearly 75 per cent of alcoholics who try A.A.
therapy come through to success. In some cases it is fantastically
simple. At the end of their own resources, they ask for A.A. help, and
from that day on never take another drink. In other cases they are "on
and off" the program for months. I know of one young woman who tried for
three years to make it. Even some of the A.A.'s who worked with her lost
faith in her chances. But she stubbornly believed she would finally be
able to stop drinking. One night last week I went to her third" birthday"
party and I saw her blow out the candles on her cake.


She was unrecognizable as the person who struggled so hopelessly through
many twilit years. When she first heard of A.A., she had been drinking
for eight years, since she was nineteen. He family had finally given her
up, for she had drifted lower and lower until she was beyond their reach.
At the age of twenty-seven she looked forty - fat and sloppy and maudlin.
It was almost impossible to look at the tall slender girl in a smart
white frock, blowing out the three candles, and believe she had any
connection with the blowzy, fat woman who took her last drink three years
ago. She has lately married a wonderful, substantial man who understands
her perfectly and admires her wisely. They say they have the prize
marriage in captivity, and I must say it looks just that.


One of the miracles of A.A. is that it transforms bodies as well as
emotions and minds. The very substance of flesh and hair seems made over.
Women whose bodies have been degraded by neglect and abuse now value
their appearance, because, as one said to me, "God just seemed to paint a
new portrait of me."


That wasn't mere wishful thinking when I said you could find more than
average happiness in the lives of A.A. members. Of all groups on earth,
the people who have rescued themselves from the undersea horrors of
alcoholism are the most exuberantly joyous ones I've ever found. They are
not indifferent or bored now; all living has quickened to importance for
them. Does it seem unbelievable to you that you could ever be so
conspicuously happy - without anything to drink? You'll learn new
meanings for the word "happy."


When you stand outside a room where a group of Alcoholics Anonymous is
meeting, the most frequent sound you hear is laughter. Mellow laughter,
which can come only from people who have looked destruction and
catastrophe in the face, not once but continuously over long years, and
now are free and unafraid. The laughter, in short, of people who hold
God's hand and feel safe.


That is the basis of Alcoholics Anonymous, the fact almost incredible to
a world that is half-afraid to expect much of God in everyday life. The
single thing that decides whether or not you will find your sobriety, the
A.A.'s say is your willingness. Willingness to admit that you are
powerless over alcohol and that your life has become unmanageable. Then
willingness to turn your will and your life over to God, as you
understand Him. This is not glib willingness, by any means. It is not
achieved until you have passed your last outpost of helplessness. It is
at the point where "Man's extremity is God's opportunity."


It is such a deep cry for help that sometimes you yourself do not
recognize it as prayer. Until after it has been answered, that is.


For example, let me tell you about how a friend of mine found A.A. I'll
call her Nora because that is not her name. A.A. provides absolute
anonymity; one need not hesitate about trusting the privacy promised.
Nora had been an unhappy child in an unhappy home. Not much had ever gone
right for her, and she did not believe it ever would. As she grew up, one
tragedy after another happened, and she tried to escape by drinking.


The first good thing that came into her life was the love she and her
husband had for each other. Soon after they were married, Nora realized
she was an alcoholic. Before marrying she had believed she drank because
she was unhappy; now that she was happy she found herself unable to stop
drinking. She did everything possible to keep her husband from realizing
the truth about her. But her craving for alcohol was so uncontrollable
that as soon as he had left in the morning she gulped down several
drinks. (Alcoholics drink faster than most people.) She lay in bed most
of the day, hating herself. When her head felt as if it would split, she
put an ice pack on it; and when her husband came home, she quickly slid
the ice pack to her cheek, saying she had a toothache.


Gradually, of course, he found out the truth. He begged her to promise
not to touch alcohol, and she eagerly did. But the next time she was
alone, she was powerless to resist. Her husband got medical help for her,
but it did no good. She spent many sessions in sanitariums; those too
failed.


Nora told me about this period a few nights ago as she was driving me to
an A.A. meeting at our county jail. She said, "I've never been in jail
myself, but I know about solitary confinement. An alcoholic has prison
bars inside his own skull. He exists behind those bars in solitary
confinement."


This wretchedness continued for many years without a ray of hope. Then
one day she had an accident while driving. The doctors told her husband
she was going to die. Amazingly she recovered, and this seemed to her one
more evidence of her tragic bad luck, for she was sick of existence.


On the way home from the hospital, her husband told her he was going to
put her permanently in an institution, for both their sakes. She said she
would be committed willingly, because she loved him too much to keep
killing him by inches.


At home she was put immediately to bed, and she tells me that for the
first time in her life she cried out within herself to God. "If you can
hear me, help me," was all she said. She went to sleep for a while, and
when she woke up, she asked her husband to call a doctor. He said," Which
one, dear?" for many doctors had drifted in and out of her muddled
existence. She said the first name that came into her mind, a doctor she
had not seen for years.


In half an hour he was beside her bed. Since he had worked unsuccessfully
on her case, he had become interested in A.A. Immediately he phoned the
local A.A. office, nd within an hour a woman member arrived at Nora's
house.


Nora has never taken a drink since. She is convinced that the moment her
very simple prayer was said, it was answered. She never doubted that her
outcome was therefore safe. She is now a gentle and beautiful woman, full
of happiness and freedom. The fear and insecurities and her superstitious
belief that she was marked for "bad luck" have completely dropped away.
Her life is filled with activity and interest. But she never for a day
forgets that she has surrendered herself and her life to God's managing.
She remembers she is an incurable alcoholic and that one drink would
plunge her back into darkness. She tells me that every night before she
sleeps she says, "Thank you, God, for keeping me sober today."To show you
how complete is the allergy in some alcoholics, I'd like to tell you the
story of a grandmother, whom we'll call Jane, who took the first drink of
her life when she was fifty-nine years old. It was at a bridge party with
some new neighbors. The other guests had only a glass or two of punch,
but Jane couldn't seem to get enough of it. In fact, before the party
broke up, the hostess mixed her several cocktails, for it seemed most
amusing to see the proper little middle-aged woman suddenly so crazy
about drinking. By the time Jane's husband, Jim, called for her she was
hilariously making a nuisance of herself. Jim got her home and into bed,
and she fell immediately to sleep. But just as she was dropping off she
said, "Jim, we've missed the best part of life. Tomorrow I'm going to mix
you some nice cocktails."


The next morning Jane went boldly into a package store and bought a
bottle of rye. Her intention was to have one drink, for medicinal
purposes, and to save the rest for cocktails to show Jim what they had
been missing. But the one drink led Jane straight through the bottle. She
was an alcoholic, completely and fully developed, just waiting for the
first drop to set her off.


From that day on she was a problem drinker, completely out of control. At
first it seemed screamingly funny that this could happen to such a little
homebody. But before a month had passed, both Jim and she knew she was in
real trouble. Her sons couldn't believe what had happened; it sounded too
fantastic. But there was no doubt about her alcoholism, for nothing else
mattered to her but her day's quart. Her minister prayer over her; her
daughters-in-law kept the grand children out of her sight; her physician
gave her a drug, Antabuse, which creates an aversion to liquor. But that
neatly killed her when, in spite of warnings, she drank alcohol
immediately afterward.


Six horrifying years followed. When she couldn't get money any other way,
she went out on the street and begged for it. She sold her clothes, stole
from her husband, and even got a job cleaning up a cocktail lounge, "for
drinks." The day she was picked up by the police as drunk and disorderly,
she hit bottom. Then, all by herself she went to an A.A. meeting. It was
the beginning of the way back.


An Alcoholics Anonymous meeting is a tremendous experience I for anyone,
even for a nonalcoholic like me. First of all, you are surprised to
discover that it is not a solemn occasion. You find a cross section of
types present, and except for those who are attending for the first time,
everyone is laughing and talking. Only first names are used, for purposes
of anonymity. The only distinguishing mark of the group is that everyone
is unusually kind and affectionate toward everyone else. It is as if all
shyness and shame and pretence have been stripped away and people are
acting spontaneously - from within themselves instead of from the
cautious exterior.


A.A.'s have told me that they felt at home for the first time in their
whole lives when they attended such a meeting. This is understandable,
for here no one criticizes, or blames, or is disgusted or shocked at
anything. Here is utter understanding, because each person present has
suffered through the same purgatories. Here also are people you cannot
fool with the alibis and dodges and deceits the alcoholic always has at
hand. Here are people who know 'em all and cheerfully tell you so. It is
a relief to be among such people after you have lived for years in a maze
of lies and subterfuges. It is as exhilarating as if you discovered a
whole new race, with meanness and false pride omitted. It is as
comfortable as if you were in a room full of people who all turned out to
be yourself in different guises. You know you can trust them to see you
as good - and as bad - as you are, without blame or shame.


Meetings follow a simple pattern. In California, for instance, an A.A.
meeting would proceed in much this way: A chapter called "How It Works"
is read from the Alcoholics Anonymous "textbook." A member volunteers to
act as chairman to conduct the meeting. The chairman may begin by saying,
"Good evening, friends. I am an alcoholic." After telling a little of his
own history, he introduces speakers he has selected to tell about
themselves. Each speaker, man or woman, tells what he was, what he is
now, and how he made the trip between the two states of being. They tell
their stories with complete frankness and often with much humor. An
alcoholic attending for the first time id often shattered with relief at
hearing the horrors, which all his life have been mentioned in
self-righteous whispers, now being talked about in plain words and with
laughter. Inhibitions and self-condemnation too painful to admit collapse
like walls of wax under this quite simple therapy.


When I ask A.A. how they can laugh and joke about their old sufferings,
they say, "Well, you see, all that happened to my worst enemy. Not to me,
certainly." It is the most wholesome kind of divorcement from the past
that any therapy has ever achieved. The past was a series of hangovers;
but when that past departs, it leaves neither hangover nor scar.


At the end of the meeting there is a moment of silent prayer; then
everyone rises and repeats the Lord's Prayer in unison. I defy anyone to
take part in this and remain untouched. Then there is coffee and cake and
an hour of friendly companionship. Many alcoholics have become bankrupt
in their social live, and A.A. offers them comfortable and easy
opportunity to make friends again and to "belong."


There are meetings every day; in Los Angeles alone there are thirty-five
meetings nightly. They are usually attended by slightly more men than
women. There are also stag meetings for men who feel freer when no women
are present, and all-woman groups, some of which meet in the morning or
the afternoon.


Besides the usual meeting places, in many cities clubrooms are
maintained, where friends may have a meal together, play a little bridge,
read magazines, or just talk (one of the alcoholic's favorite enjoyments
after years of evasiveness). Actually alcoholics are gregarious people
who have deeply hurt themselves by destroying human relationships. Now
they return to trusting and being trusted with utter sincerity.


Alcoholism is an incurable disease; one suffering from it can never
return to social drinking. The allergy is present for a lifetime, but
with A.A. there is no fear about it. One does not have to hide from
alcohol or avoid normal drinkers. One need only be on guard against the
first drink - always, as long as life lasts. A.A.'s say cheerfully,"
Don't take the first drink, and you'll never take any other." This is
possible one day at a time, A.A.'s keep close to the presence of God, and
through this closeness the multiple problems that once tore down every
department of their lives are finally solved, and the rebuilding goes on
almost effortlessly.


If you have come this far in my letter to you my unknown friend, you must
know how uncondemning I am about you. And the love I have for you is
multiplied by thousands. All you need do now is reach out and touch that
love, for it is waiting to put itself into action for you. Help is as
close to you as your telephone at this moment.


Your telephone directory holds the number; look it up under the A's -
Alcoholics Anonymous. Ask for a woman to come to see you. No need for you
to tell anyone else that you have taken this step. When she comes, you
won't have to tell her anything painful about yourself; you won't have to
tell her much of anything. She knows all about you - more than you know
about yourself. For she has gone every step of the way you've gone, and
even farther. And she has come to sobriety and usefulness and a life she
never could have imagined possible for herself.


If you find what is there for you, maybe you'll write and tell me. Or
better than that, find another woman who needs it and tell her. God bless
you now.


Source: Good Housekeeping, March 1954



-- Edited by Sobrietyspell on Monday 26th of April 2010 12:24:11 AM

-- Edited by John on Thursday 19th of August 2010 07:17:53 AM

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Wow, it took some time to really read through this, but is was very inspirational,


So thank you John, this is the first time I've seen you Post.  Just poppin in?


Thank You, Toni



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Wow this brought tears to my eyes! and yes it did take some reading!

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Most alcoholics are perfectionists and idealists.

They expect to accomplish wonders with their lives; when they cannot live
up to their ideals, they cannot face their disappointment in themselves.

In spite of what others usually believe, alcoholics have terrific
consciences. They care so deeply about everything that they cannot endure
the stress and strain of worry. When an irresistible conscience meets an
immovable inability to endure the agony of worry, there's a wide-open
invitation to excess drinking. Emotional conflicts in you supersensitive
people become so unbearable that escape, amounting to total obliteration,
is sought. In some alcoholics a feeling of inferiority born in childhood
builds up a compensation mechanism that creates egotism gluttonous for
praise and success and never satisfied with what is offered to it. In
women, the too fat ego demands flattery, indulgence, and, in some cases,
continual romance. Disappointed in her excessive demands for perfection,
a frustrated woman sometimes believes the dreamy promises of alcohol, the
heartless deceiver.

When these extreme emotional tensions exist in addition to bodily
allergy, alcoholic ruin is inevitable. People drink because they are
unhappy; they are unhappy because they drink; and the vicious spiral
whirls on until one cannot tell which was cause and which effect.

 

This is me & my alcoholism to a tee. I've very rarely heard it put so succinctly but identify to my core. How could I realise in my earlier years how significant my perfectionism, idealism & conscience where to my alcoholism?? I had absolutely no idea & I couldn't while I thought alcohol was my help & best friend. Recovery is revealing evermore to me. It wasn't until I did my third Step 5 this week that all of this has started to come home to me. I'm coming up through a few more layers. I had wanted to drink this week & I have come through it. I am grateful for this experience as it has taught me again so much more. My recovery is not a theory. I have to live it. My female fellowship has been there again for me at a time like this. I'm not very good at praying & obviously need lots & lots more practice. When I'm out of the reach of my God I'm glad my friend's can let His Power work through them, teaching me ever new gratitudes. 

I am not alone. We are not alone. God is within us all if we are willing. I am willing to learn & do as God's will is for me. This is to accept all that is around me unless there is something appropriate for me to do to change for the better. To listen to my body for feelings of discomfort when in conflict with others. Is it my self that is at stake or can I get a message across without unnecessary hurt or disturbance?Do I need to surrender & receive? It is possible that correct channels can be accessed when dealing with injustice but of course I can 'only' do so much. My Best & then Letting Go to God. I am grateful to be sober another day today. I will Thank God on my pillow for Today & turn it over all over again in the morning if I can wake another day to the care of. I have & I am learning the power of Acceptance. Thanks for posting this, John :) Danielle x



-- Edited by Sobrietyspell on Monday 26th of December 2011 09:34:03 PM

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This really touched me. It made me realize that it is important to live up to my own expectations and not those of someone else.

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mega bump!  biggrin


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Sobriety Spell -- you picked out the most important paragraphs. I cried when I read this. Ever wonder why so many artists drown in the drink bog, there is the answer.

Day 54 for me.

As my extremely sensitive 10 year son fits this profile, I have so much fear that he will get caught up as well. I know I have to hand that fear over, and just work on my own stuff, and hope that maybe my example (not much of one yet) will break cycle passed down through ages to my family.

What a fantastic article, someone should update it and republish it. I bet it helped more than a few people back in the 50's and could do the same again.

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Thanks for posting this letter. I recognized myself in it clearly. It gives me hope that there is help out there.

I am killing myself with alcohol, and severely depressed that I cannot make myself stop. I am going to try AA meetings one more time. I am so desperate. I am one of the most shy people in the world, and it really scares me to sit in a room full of strangers. I am afraid of strange men, [for good reason, I've been raped multiple times], so AA meetings can be very stressful for me at times, because I don't feel comfortable holding hands with strangers.

The description of the woman alcoholic who is a perfectionist, and disappointed in because of being unable to achieve anything of real importance, is me. I am utterly terrified by this disease, and the downward spiral & total loss of control of every aspect of my life. I'm in my 50's and have a roommate that is a social drinker, so there is alcohol in the house at all times. This situation seems impossible to me. I need help badly. I am going to meditate and ask the forces of the universe to help me. Please, somebody or something help me, or I am going to die. I am not being melodramatic. It's gotten really, really bad.

Thanks for letting me post my desperation.



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I can identify with many things you are going through.  Just remember though, with regard to meetings, you don't have to do anything you don't want to do.  If you don't want to hold hands, don't.  No one will think anything of it.  The important thing is you have to do whatever makes you comfortable, as long as you're there.

A long time ago I called AA in desperation, because I had gone to meetings for 3 years, but kept my distance, and never got involved, and could not stop drinking.  So I called one night, and they had a lady call me.  She was pretty nervous because she only only had a year sober at the time, but she met me and brought me to a meeting, introduced me to people, and before long they gave me a "job" to do, and I became involved, and felt like I belonged somewhere for the first time.  Everyone was so kind to me.  I went to lots of meetings, sat in coffee shops with AA people, got a sponsor, spoke at other meetings, and did various volunteer jobs for the group.  I also found it very helpful to volunteer at AA intergroup answering phones for the many who called asking for help.

Mind you, before this I was isolating and afraid of people, but I found it quite spontaneously easy for me to just relax, let go, and go with the flow of what was suggested to me.  On the other hand, nothing is mandatory.  They say about AA "take what you need and leave the rest".   I found that took any pressure off;  and then I wanted to get more involved because the more you do the more you get out of it.

All I know is it got me sober and I was a much happier person. 

Good luck to you.  I would advise you to go to as many meetings as you can, especially beginner's meeting.  The latter will give you the tools and info you need, but any meeting will help.  If you can connect with people and give them your phone number or take theirs, much better.  Get a sponsor as soon as you can.  She will point you in the right direction (and if you need to, change until you find the right sponsor, someone who has what you want, so to speak).

You may have already done all this, since your post is about a month old.   Take care.

Molly

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I have the brochure of this. You can find it at any A.A. meeting in your town (where all the literature and brochures are at).

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That was a great article~~



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I thank God for My Life~~


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Thats very emotional umm i would have to say that im only 18 and i have been drinking since i was 12 and i understand i thought that one could understand and it seems that you do which is good for me cause it will be easy for me to open up about my using :)

and take care okay...

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Tiffany Mcmahill


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I hit my rock bottom over the weekend (something absolutely frightening happenedhmm) after a heavy 5 day liquor binge which ended with a two day drug binge, I'm just tired and sick of the things i do when i drink! I hate HAVING to drink everyday.



I'm on day 2, and I am having withdrawals especially relaated to sleeping i have these lucid like dreams where I have these nightmares that i know are dreams, but i can't wake myself from because i really havent fallen asleep yet? sounds weird hard to explain, but they suck!

Anyway, you pointed out a few things that i couldnt have said better myself, thank you.

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Hello SRGirl21 and welcome to the board.

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ljc


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Yes, welcome srgirl21.

You dont have to drink every day  . Who told you that ?

Drinkin and druggin does get old after years and years of doing it. I got sick and tired and just wanted to live a different way.

AA has provided that and much, much more for me.
It can do the same for you too !!


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K.i.s.s.



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Long and beautiful.......if this doesn't give us strength nothing will..........this is why we fight the daily fight........sometimes mintue to minute, second to second---to arrest this deadly, destructive disease---and be a light to those with the same condition!!
The darkness is all tooooooooooo real!!

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Awesome. Thanks for sharing.

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Hey girl,
  Try a womans meeting if you feel uncomfortable with men that will come in time. I
truly do understand. You don't have to die.  You can live this way of life without alcohol and get through these struggles one day at a time 5 min at a time. There will
be people there for you. That i know. Never give up!

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I got a little tearful reading the story but then really cried at the posts. I have been battling it for 17 years. So much in common with many of you who posted. I used to drink to be more social and was actually told I was "more fun" when I was drunk, because I was too quiet and shy at other times. I am a complete perfectionist and live to please and help everyone else. But I don't seem to be able to help myself. I do well for a couple days and can't believe how happy and well I feel. Then I think it'll be fine to have a few. Then I fall apart. My jobs and relationships have suffered. I am alone now with my dog (but have a job I love and manage quite well - around my drinking). I have severe withdrawl, including seizures. I know I can die from this, but at those times when a drink looks really good... I just don't care. But in reality, I truly don't want to die.

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Thank you.

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I loved this post.

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This story is the real answer to why I drank. Bad luck, dissapointment from an early age for years and years. I drank to forget but it always came back to haunt me. I was a total drunk, my family turned against me. Etc, etc etc. The story is the same for every one.

Today I am not a drunk I am a recovering alcaholic. Always will be. This is fine with me. My past life is gone now I dont wish it back.
Now that I know, now that I have at long last accepted my situation, now that I can help myself, now that I dont need to be a people pleaser and drink to 'fit in' now that I dont take the first drink my life will be a worth while existence for me and what my plans are for my life.
My family have now come back to me well most have. The others I dont mind as I can now choose my friends not my family. If I were not a recovering alcoholic I would be happy not to. I wish all my family well and I do love all of them.
This story will stay with me the rest of my days, it will remind me of who I was and who I have become.
It is my inspiration to reap the benefits of being a recovering alcoholic. Chrissy.

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Wow, that was amazing!! xx

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This is an amazing letter. Thank you for sharing it to benefit us all. I've just been laid off work, but like the joke goes when given a pile of, you know, I'm going to be positive and know there's a pony in there somewhere! I'm home today and finally decided to look into AA and then that beautiful letter came across the page. Yes, it's an allergy that has made me puffy and I don't care any more about almost anything. I am inspired now though, to make a call. I did go to our AA meeting out of my area (couldn't bare to face people I meet daily in th is small town).
The woman's meeting was disolved and there was really just two of us there, and I didn't have the courage to go into the next room that was mixed. Yes there was laughter, and I was afraid i'd break down crying because I was so depressed, and make a fool of myself. So I sit here and cried reading that letter. It gives me courage to try again, and make the call to speak to someone, preferably a woman, and get a sponsor. I've had enough, it's scaring the heck out of me. The company I worked for downsized by 8 employees. I have time now to focus on my recovery daily. I would always make excuses, and one day would go into the next. Tomorrow I'll stop, then there were many tomorrows.

If it hadn't been for that letter, I don't like I'd be serious this time. God bless you for sharing it. Today I need to make a new start. Thank you for listening, and for that opportunity.

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Lauren


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really useful thanks for posting this and stickying it, well worth the read, even if you're a man! smile.gif

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Wow.  I just registered and read/heard exactly what I needed to hear.  Thanks



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Thanks for sharing.  I too live in a small community (not geographically but socially).



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THANK YOU FOR YOUR INSPIRATION XOX ANGELINA

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ANGELINA CAMPBELL


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transamsam wrote:

smileHi

Wow, that was so wonderful to read and it was written when I was born...My mom must have read it...thankyou, it feeled my soul and it help me see why I am so screwed up in my head with a man, that I love so dearly, has 18yrs sober and me with 9 months.

Just desperately want his love to stay and never go...but he went and he just wants to see me in meetings, "that's it" he said.,  I can't go to his meetings anymore I just can't, he hugs and I want to kiss him, so...............God help me and thank you keeping me sober over this


 



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Samantha


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Me too

Thanks Chrissy for your honesty and hope for me...I too, can never go back but the men I have met in AA, well, one of them wants sex. the other too, i turned them bothe down, Well, If I  was drunk and it would have been wild,   the other is Iam not drunk and I love God and I am not a piece of ass.   and this is a new body and a new life.

What so a man can fuck it up...just doesnt seem right, or should have had sex with them regardless, they are both just a friend in AA now.   But I can't do that I feel more for them than that..So, yes ,,,FEAR sets in and I have to check the parking lot before I can go into a meeting.  Lovely huh

 



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Samantha


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Thank you for posting this.

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I cried the entire time I read this. Thank you so much for posting. It has really helped me already.

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That was an absolutely beautiful letter. 



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Helped me too. Just perfectly put. Hmm. I think I can do this with all of this support!

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Read this again today, and sent to my "boyfriend" (stupid name for a grown, amazing man that I love).  I told him I'm starting this path, and also told my ex-husband because as the father of my two beautiful children and someone who was left in the ruins of my alcoholic ways, he should know.  He was nicer to me this am at the "kid switch" than he's ever been, and congratulated me.  I gave him my last two bottles of wine, so the house is officially alcohol free! Our divorce was truly about finding our better selves because of our sick codependence.  This is one huge step towards a sane, manageable life.  

Worried about selling my house, finding a job, providing for the kids, etc. today. But going to just get through today.  That's all I can do.  Having a drink wasn't going to make any of that better, now was it?  Duh:)  Yes, today it's a little funny.  Surely it won't always be.  

Going to find a meeting as well for today or tomorrow.  Lots of options in my city.



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Thank you jonh,your posting truely touched my heart..as well as my mind.I have the upmost respect for the ones who carry the meassage respectfully..thank you and have a great day.....



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Living life on lifes sober terms....



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PURE 100%INSPIRATION,THANK YOU AGAIN



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Living Life on Lifes Sober Terms.......Keep Comming Back.....



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This was the very first thing AA I ever read. First thing I did AA was come to this board - read this letter. Soon, started going to meetings, and now 6 months later, reading this again, it still touches my heart, but in new ways. This will always be my saving moment - so I will read this every so often. Grateful for AA and this board, and this post - and sobriety!

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Thank you for the article! I am new to this and going through a rough time but I am finally seeing that my drinking is causing most of the pain(silent pain) because most people do not know this about me. I know I need help, but I really dont know where to startl



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Lisa Snider


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Thank you for posting this article!

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Love it... Thank you :*)

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kathy



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I definitely needed this today, as I'm starting on another Day One of sobriety. I hide it, and lie about it, and deceive my husband about it, but I can't bring myself to do any different. This reminds me that others out there suffer the same exact ways, and many more have recovered; it also reminds me that yesterday is gone, and what I do today is what really counts. Thanks for this.

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MaryBeth27 wrote:

I definitely needed this today, as I'm starting on another Day One of sobriety. I hide it, and lie about it, and deceive my husband about it, but I can't bring myself to do any different. This reminds me that others out there suffer the same exact ways, and many more have recovered; it also reminds me that yesterday is gone, and what I do today is what really counts. Thanks for this.


 Welcome to the forum, MaryBeth. And welcome back to recovery.

Plenty of us here have been through what you have gone through.  And you're totally right that TODAY is the most important frame of reference.

You and we can stay sober today.



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First, deal with the things that might kill you.

 



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Only minutes after posting my admission to feeling like I am an alcholic. I have read this letter and feel like it was directed absolutely at me. It feels good to know that for decades have I not been the only one. And unfortunete. I feel for the other women out there that have been where I am today. I am full of sorrow. I know this is a disease and not just an ailment or an illness or a phase of age or time. This is an ongoing battle..mentally, emtionally, and physically. And for those who WERE where I am today I hope you are in better hands and I hope to be where you are, and those who are experiencing the disease and alcoholism at this very same moment as me.. I grieve for you and praise hope for you. and am willing to hold your hand along the way if you will let me. I only want anyone who feels the way I feel or even worse or are on the verge of where I am to not be here. It is only a dark hidden place and the lonliness is not comforting and the results are far too addicting.

 

Thank you for posting this. It is just finally now for me that I find it. And perhaps now is my time to finally read it and thank god I have.. for this just simply empowers me as I am at this alone in my life and this only gives me 100 times more strength and encouragement to go on as a sober humanand forget those drunken hidden days of life alone while the world still spins around us all. Thank you honestly a great thanks.

 

GaSunrise



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This is exactly what I needed to read today and I will return again to this post. I pray for continued sobriety with all my heart.  Thank you.



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Hi -- I made a documentary film about my mother's death from alcoholism; the film also looks at why women are twice as likely to die from alcoholism as men. It's called "My Name Was Bette: The Life and Death of an Alcoholic." The trailer is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUFr4bD6eTk and an introduction is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ucwOopsyRlM&feature=relmfu. We are on FB and also have a webpage at thebettefilm.com. I'm writing about this, because I never want another woman--or man--to die of alcoholism. Thanks for reading, and have a blessed and sober day!

-- Sherri

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dms


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I absolutely LOVED this, thank you SO much for sharing it!  I immediately sent it to my sponsee and another friend in the program.  I love how AA continues to show that it is "tried and true!"  This letter being from 1954 is just amazing....oh how many lives two men have affected so many years ago by starting a program to help themselves and "possibly" some others.....I am so grateful to them and to this program!!



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Imperfect changes are slow steps of progress wrapped in His Grace......hence, Imperfect progress.........progress not perfection....

Darby



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This spoke wonders to me.

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Stephanie Ralph


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I wouldn't change a thing no update necessary.  It is just as appropriate now as it was in 1954.  I read this many, many years ago when I was 22 yrs old my first time in AA. My parents had a lot of literature around our home about AA but I couldn't truely relate.  I tried to fit but I wasn't truly ready. in and out of AA fora a time then I just quit going .Now 20 years later I relate to all of it.  I haven't drank since Thanksgiving still feel pretty bad but I know I need help.  I have kinda been house bound. Messed up my pancreas so I've been pretty sick. I know when I feel better it will be harder. I don't trust myself to do it by myself.

My thinking is how I got where I am.   Do now know where local meeting are and plan to go when. Feel better. So until then here I am. Not sure how to reach out but. I need some help. Thanks

P



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Hi,

It doesn't matter about the hows or whys at this point. The important thing is that your life is at stake and you must answer the question as to whether or not you will choose to live. This disease wants us dead. Do whatever it takes. And yes it's hard but if I can do it anyone can that truly wants to. I pray you decide to live.

Senita



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Senita


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Wow, I really relate to this post. I am just embarking on my journey to a sober life. As a woman, I became addicted to drugs and alcohol in an effort to control my weight and maintain a perfect facade. Ironically, my methods for maintaining a slim and "healthy" appearance have wreaked havoc on my mental and physical health. Before I knew it, my secret cigarettes and secret swigs from a flask here and there escalated into a full-blown raging addiction. Picking up the pieces will be no easy task. While I was busy concerning myself with trivial and superficial things, I missed countless opportunities and everything I should have been working toward became stagnant. I wonder how many women have wandered down this path keeping all of their addictions secret until some final disaster.

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katie


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Thank you.



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When I started reading this is just showed me so much of Myself in all of it. From trying to be the perfect child in the family to the high standards I had put on me. I was the hidding one and first started just out there but got worse. I have been to rehab and hospital over 20 times and one time in acoma for 4 days. but even a month after that I drank again. I thought that was my rock bottom but wasnt. I have gone to IOP and finished that and Now in OP and dealing with some other mental health and other counseling. It just isnt one thing that gets us here. But one thing can get us out. Faith in God and AA Thank you

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Michaelle Brown


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Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!


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I will succeed


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This describes me perfectly. Here I am swearing off drinking as of last night, telling myself I'm gonna go to AA meetings, but I have already taken a shot. Why can't I stop? I hide my bottles telling myself I can control my drinking but the next thing I know I blacked out. I don't remember a think that happened for hours on end. Then the next morning, I'm crying, ashamed, want to end it all.

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Thank you for posting this letter John. I just found it today. Today I am choosing to walk down a different path and stop drinking. It's the first change of many my life needs. This letter is the most beautiful piece of writing I have ever read. I will never forget it. Grace Hopper once wrote "a ship in the harbour is safe, but that is not what ships are built for." It's time for my ship to sail away from this horrible place it's been docked for the last eight years. Again, thank you.



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 May God give you...For every storm a rainbow, for every tear a smile, for every care a promise and a blessing in each trial. For every problem life sends, a faithful friend to share, for every sigh a sweet song and an answer for each prayer.
 


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I was thinking the exact same thing for myself. It brought me to tears. Thank you for sharing.



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That is beautiful.



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Thanks for the repost        great information     and great reading Matt



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Once there was a caterpillar named Charlie who lived in the Valley of Promises.

There was nothing observably special about Charlie. He was an average looking caterpillar amidst thousands of others. Like them, he spent the majority of his time crawling from leaf to leaf, eating as much as he pleased, & dozing in the warm sunlight. Life was good & Charlie was happy.

As you know, there is something very special about caterpillars. From the time they are born, they are aware that something beautiful beyond imagination will one day occur. It is called The Promise.

Charlie was a believer. For as long as he could remember, he had loved The Promise. Its mystery filled his days & nights with dreams of anticipation.

In this way, Charlie was special, for his love of The Promise by far exceeded that of any normal caterpillar. He grew more & more impatient in his intense desire to receive its gift.

One day, as Charlie was exploring the valley, he was attracted by a bright, shiny object lying in the meadow. It was a brown bottle. The sun's rays danced on the glass & gave it an aura of golden splendour. It seemed to beckon Charlie. Filled with excitement, he hurried as fast as he could go.

Charlie was a bit scared when he reached the bottle, for it was something entirely new & frightening. As he explored it, curiosity soon overcame his fear. He traveled its surface from end to end & top to bottom.

When Charlie entered the bottle, something magical seemed to happen. A soft mellow glow enveloped him in the warmth of a false utopia. After a time, he was lulled to sleep by the gentle voice of the bottle whispering pleasures yet to come.

At first, Charlie spent most of his time leading the normal life of a caterpillar with only occasional trips into the brown bottle. But as the days passed, he longed more & more for the mellow glow it offered & his trips became frequent. He began to venture deeper & deeper into the bottle to find the utopia he sought.

Sometimes, Charlie's friends came to visit while he was in the bottle. As he moved about within its glass walls, he appeared to be different than he really was. Pleased with all of the attention he received, he would do silly things to make his friends laugh. Charlie loved being the centre of attention & his friends' laughter made him feel important. Then, the bottle seemed to whisper, "Charlie, when you are with me, you are a very, very special caterpillar." And Charlie felt, that indeed, what the bottle had said was true.

By the end of the summer, Charlie seldom left the bottle. It had become more important to him than the warmth of the sunlight, more important than the companionship of his friends, even more important than the Valley of Promises itself. He began to depend on the bottle for all of his needs. It had become his home.

With the coming of fall, the world outside the bottle began to change. Cold winds swept down from the north. Green plants turned brown & died. There was a rush of activity among the caterpillars for they knew that they, too, must change with the seasons & prepare for the winter to come.

On the final day of preparation, Charlie's friends went to the bottle & called to him, "Charlie, please come out before it is too late. We must get ready to receive The Promise."

Surrounded by the warm glow, Charlie gazed out upon the barren valley. "I would be foolish to leave this warm, safe place & go out into the cold with you. I could leave if I wanted to, but I would rather stay here." Laden with sorrow, Charlie's friends turned away from him in hopelessness & returned to their tasks.

One day, as Charlie gazed out upon the snow covered valley, the bottle again spoke to him, "Charlie, you have seen your friendssuffer from the cold in their quest for The Promise while you have remained here, warm & safe, with me. Surely by now, you know that I am better for you than an empty promise."

And Charlie knew, that indeed, what the bottle had said was true. On that day, Charlie deserted his belief in The Promise, & surrendered his dreams to the control of the brown bottle.

Winter passed slowly & Charlie lived in a hazy world within his glass confines. During his long stay, he had not eaten or taken care of himself. He began to grow frail & thin. The warm glow was slowly fading. The bottle's walls were becoming cold & uncaring.

On occasion, Charlie tried to reach the bottle's opening in an attempt to again find the outside world. But now the voice of the bottle was cruel & commanding, "Charlie, you cannot leave!" Weak from hunger & filled with dispair, Charlie would slide feebly back into the depths of the bottle. At these times, he would utter quietly to himself, "I could leave if I wanted to, but I would rather stay here."

The mellow glow was completely gone now & there was nothing special about Charlie any more. His good feelings about himself had gradually been replaced with guilt & hatred. He had become nothing more than a sad, frightened little caterpillar, trapped in a brown bottle.

Spring came. The valley was filled with beauty beyond compare. The sky was a rainbow of color as thousands of butterflies tested their wings for the first time in a never ending flight of freedom.

... THE PROMISE HAD BEEN FULFILLED ...

On the day of The Promise,
Charlie died.
Alone,
in silent desperation.
No one knew,
no one cared.
Least of all, the brown bottle.

THE PROMISE

Alcoholism, if not controlled, is a deadly illness. It is the silent thief of hopes & dreams, the destroyer of families & love. It robs its victim of pride & dignity, offering guilt & self-hatred in return.

Hope does exist for the alcoholic. With proper treatment & sobriety, alcoholism can be controlled. The alcoholic is then free to live a rich & rewarding life. Achievement of one's greatest potential is once again possible ... The Promise can be fulfilled.

HazeldenOnce there was a caterpillar named Charlie who lived in the Valley of Promises.

There was nothing observably special about Charlie. He was an average looking caterpillar amidst thousands of others. Like them, he spent the majority of his time crawling from leaf to leaf, eating as much as he pleased, & dozing in the warm sunlight. Life was good & Charlie was happy.

As you know, there is something very special about caterpillars. From the time they are born, they are aware that something beautiful beyond imagination will one day occur. It is called The Promise.

Charlie was a believer. For as long as he could remember, he had loved The Promise. Its mystery filled his days & nights with dreams of anticipation.

In this way, Charlie was special, for his love of The Promise by far exceeded that of any normal caterpillar. He grew more & more impatient in his intense desire to receive its gift.

One day, as Charlie was exploring the valley, he was attracted by a bright, shiny object lying in the meadow. It was a brown bottle. The sun's rays danced on the glass & gave it an aura of golden splendour. It seemed to beckon Charlie. Filled with excitement, he hurried as fast as he could go.

Charlie was a bit scared when he reached the bottle, for it was something entirely new & frightening. As he explored it, curiosity soon overcame his fear. He traveled its surface from end to end & top to bottom.

When Charlie entered the bottle, something magical seemed to happen. A soft mellow glow enveloped him in the warmth of a false utopia. After a time, he was lulled to sleep by the gentle voice of the bottle whispering pleasures yet to come.

At first, Charlie spent most of his time leading the normal life of a caterpillar with only occasional trips into the brown bottle. But as the days passed, he longed more & more for the mellow glow it offered & his trips became frequent. He began to venture deeper & deeper into the bottle to find the utopia he sought.

Sometimes, Charlie's friends came to visit while he was in the bottle. As he moved about within its glass walls, he appeared to be different than he really was. Pleased with all of the attention he received, he would do silly things to make his friends laugh. Charlie loved being the centre of attention & his friends' laughter made him feel important. Then, the bottle seemed to whisper, "Charlie, when you are with me, you are a very, very special caterpillar." And Charlie felt, that indeed, what the bottle had said was true.

By the end of the summer, Charlie seldom left the bottle. It had become more important to him than the warmth of the sunlight, more important than the companionship of his friends, even more important than the Valley of Promises itself. He began to depend on the bottle for all of his needs. It had become his home.

With the coming of fall, the world outside the bottle began to change. Cold winds swept down from the north. Green plants turned brown & died. There was a rush of activity among the caterpillars for they knew that they, too, must change with the seasons & prepare for the winter to come.

On the final day of preparation, Charlie's friends went to the bottle & called to him, "Charlie, please come out before it is too late. We must get ready to receive The Promise."

Surrounded by the warm glow, Charlie gazed out upon the barren valley. "I would be foolish to leave this warm, safe place & go out into the cold with you. I could leave if I wanted to, but I would rather stay here." Laden with sorrow, Charlie's friends turned away from him in hopelessness & returned to their tasks.

One day, as Charlie gazed out upon the snow covered valley, the bottle again spoke to him, "Charlie, you have seen your friendssuffer from the cold in their quest for The Promise while you have remained here, warm & safe, with me. Surely by now, you know that I am better for you than an empty promise."

And Charlie knew, that indeed, what the bottle had said was true. On that day, Charlie deserted his belief in The Promise, & surrendered his dreams to the control of the brown bottle.

Winter passed slowly & Charlie lived in a hazy world within his glass confines. During his long stay, he had not eaten or taken care of himself. He began to grow frail & thin. The warm glow was slowly fading. The bottle's walls were becoming cold & uncaring.

On occasion, Charlie tried to reach the bottle's opening in an attempt to again find the outside world. But now the voice of the bottle was cruel & commanding, "Charlie, you cannot leave!" Weak from hunger & filled with dispair, Charlie would slide feebly back into the depths of the bottle. At these times, he would utter quietly to himself, "I could leave if I wanted to, but I would rather stay here."

The mellow glow was completely gone now & there was nothing special about Charlie any more. His good feelings about himself had gradually been replaced with guilt & hatred. He had become nothing more than a sad, frightened little caterpillar, trapped in a brown bottle.

Spring came. The valley was filled with beauty beyond compare. The sky was a rainbow of color as thousands of butterflies tested their wings for the first time in a never ending flight of freedom.

... THE PROMISE HAD BEEN FULFILLED ...

On the day of The Promise,
Charlie died.
Alone,
in silent desperation.
No one knew,
no one cared.
Least of all, the brown bottle.

THE PROMISE

Alcoholism, if not controlled, is a deadly illness. It is the silent thief of hopes & dreams, the destroyer of families & love. It robs its victim of pride & dignity, offering guilt & self-hatred in return.

Hope does exist for the alcoholic. With proper treatment & sobriety, alcoholism can be controlled. The alcoholic is then free to live a rich & rewarding life. Achievement of one's greatest potential is once again possible ... The Promise can be fulfilled.

HazeldenJohn wrote:

Source:  Good Housekeeping, March 1954

 

A Letter To A Woman Alcoholic

 

Wherever you are, at whatever stage in the long descent, this is for you.
It says nothing of shame or scorn or ridicule; it brings only love and
understanding. And help

 

If I lived across the street from you and saw you gallantly but
hopelessly struggling against your ailment and spoke to you sometimes
when you couldn't avoid meeting me, I'd not dare to tell you what I want
to tell you now. You wouldn't let me, because you'd be afraid of me.
You'd think I was in the world- wide conspiracy against you; you'd resent
me for suspecting your secret agony.

 

If we looked into each other's faces, I couldn't find a way of letting
you know I love the sight of you. I couldn't tell you that I find nothing
in you to despise or ridicule or preach at, for you wouldn't let me speak
about what is your fatal malady. We'd both pretend it doesn't exist.

 

So I am having to write to you. I am writing you a letter and putting it
in this safe place, where you will find it and hide it from your family
and then read it.

 

You and I begin by having one bond in common: We both know you are
secretly worried to death about your drinking.

 

You may be any age - a college girl, a young mother, an admired
professional woman, the wife of your town's most prominent citizen, a
staid-looking grandmother. You may be an extrovert and the life of the
party or a frightened, inferior-feeling little person who has to pour
courage out of a bottle before attempting anything, no matter how simple
it seems to other people.

 

You may have been drinking for months or years. You would be horrified
and deny it hotly if anyone called you an alcoholic, but secretly you are
wondering whether you are one. I'll answer that immediately by saying
that if you can't control your drinking, if you drink more than you would
like to admit, the chances are you are an alcoholic. When I say that
word, I have named a person afflicted with a disease. It grows
progressively worse, constantly narrowing one's world until nothing is
desired and nothing is real but alcohol.

 

Because you are a woman, your drinking life is probably most secretive,
for you have done everything possible to hide it from everyone, even from
yourself. And you may have succeeded. Perhaps nobody knows - yet - that
you ever take a drink. For you dare not drink one cocktail in public,
knowing that the first drink is the stumble at the top of a long flight
down which you will inevitably tumble. You may become a "bedroom
drinker," and I may have followed you at this moment into your own room,
where you intend to reach for a bottle hidden under your lingerie or in
an innocent hatbox on the top shelf. Your family may not yet be
suspicious of your frequent "headaches."

 

On the other hand, you may be one of those shadows who live their lives
in the twilight of bars and cocktail lounges. You may be the neighborhood
problem or the town scandal. Your family may have stopped trying to cover
up for you; not even your children try to make excuses for you any more.
Or you may even have lost your family because you were helpless about
your drinking.

 

But at whatever stage you are at this moment, there is hope for you here.
And neither blame nor shame should be attached to you. You do not deserve
the self- righteous pleadings and the aggrieved accusations that everyone
has showered on you. "If you loved us, you'd stop." "You think of nobody
but yourself." "You should be ashamed of yourself, with all your
education and opportunity!" You are not a selfish, immoral monster.
Indeed you are quite the opposite. You are a desperately ill woman.

 

After you realize this, the next fact for you to accept is that you are
free from any guilt. When you admit you are an alcoholic, you no longer
deserve to be blamed and punished (beyond the inhuman punishment you have
been giving yourself). You must only recognize that you are ill. Your
illness is dangerous. It can destroy everything it comes near; unless it
is arrested it can destroy the mind and the body of its victim. But it is
no more your "fault" than having hay fever or diabetes would be. Alcohol
is a poison to you if you are an alcoholic.

 

You are not alone in the indescribable torture that is alcoholism. There
are countless thousands of women like you in early or late stages of
falling to pieces. Of the sixty-five million people in our country who
use alcohol, more than four million are problem drinkers. An estimated
650,000 of these are women. It is difficult to count them accurately,
because women, especially housewives, can hide their condition better
than men. They can hide it, at least, for a while. But the woman
alcoholic suffers more acutely than does the man; her psychology and
constitution are more complex and more sensitive. She can endure her
self-loathing less easily, and she feels much more keenly the social
stigma an ignorant society still puts on alcoholism. I don't need to tell
you that, I'm sure. I wish with all my heart it were mere interesting
theory to you, but I know it is not.

 

The bravado that insulates men alcoholics does not come to women like you
until they have almost killed their real selves within their ill bodies.
I have heard many women alcoholics say, " I was completely dead inside
myself. Nothing could reach me and help me."

 

It is difficult for most women to admit, even to themselves, that they
are alcoholics. Yet this admission is their first step toward sobriety
and sanity. If you have not taken that first step already, let me help
you make it today. For if you can admit that your inner panic and
devastation are symptoms of alcoholism, you are ready for help.

 

My purpose in writing this letter to you is to tell you that, in spite of
your desperate illness, you can "rejoin the human race" and live a
reasonable normal life. In fact you will find that life to be much
happier than average living. You will not return to the old life you
enjoyed before alcoholism overwhelmed you. That life was not good enough
for you; you tried to escape your frustration and despair by losing it in
drink. This life I'm going to tell you about lies on the other side of a
great experience, and you can find it and be exactly what God had in mind
when He made you.

 

Alcoholics Anonymous is what I'm writing to you about. It has stopped the
drinking of nearly a quarter of a million (Ed.note: As of 1954. Today we
number in the millions)desperate, defeated men and women and redesigned
their lives. If you are willing and humble enough to let it work for you,
it will not only make today's drink your last one forever but will give
you a new way of life, indescribably good and of benefit to all who see
it.

 

The general public has little comprehension of the way A.A. works, and,
in fact nobody can explain it intellectually. But there is multiplied
evidence that it does work. After admitting yourself to be powerless over
alcohol, if you sincerely want help, you ask a power greater than
yourself to take over your life. On a superficial level this would mean
little. But on the deep emotional plane where this asking occurs (and
with all your suffering endorsing the plea), the strongest force a human
being can experience is released. The presence of this felt power is
stronger than the alcohol, which up to that moment had been the paramount
urge, overmastering love of family, self-respect, and self-preservation
itself. The A.A.'s cannot easily discuss this tremendous experience. But
it does not need to be discussed; its results are beyond any doubting.
Nobody knows how it works, but it does.

 

Let's talk about you a minute. How did you become an alcoholic in the
first place? Not just out of cussedness or meanness, of course. Medical
science and psychiatry have established the fact that many people drink
to excess from emotional causes. I've know two women who became
alcoholics because they lost their children, and many because their
husbands failed them. Most alcoholics are perfectionists and idealists.
They expect to accomplish wonders with their lives; when they cannot live
up to their ideals, they cannot face their disappointment in themselves.

 

In spite of what others usually believe, alcoholics have terrific
consciences. They care so deeply about everything that they cannot endure
the stress and strain of worry. When an irresistible conscience meets an
immovable inability to endure the agony of worry, there's a wide-open
invitation to excess drinking. Emotional conflicts in you supersensitive
people become so unbearable that escape, amounting to total obliteration,
is sought. In some alcoholics a feeling of inferiority born in childhood
builds up a compensation mechanism that creates egotism gluttonous for
praise and success and never satisfied with what is offered to it. In
women, the too fat ego demands flattery, indulgence, and, in some cases,
continual romance. Disappointed in her excessive demands for perfection,
a frustrated woman sometimes believes the dreamy promises of alcohol, the
heartless deceiver.

 

When these extreme emotional tensions exist in addition to bodily
allergy, alcoholic ruin is inevitable. People drink because they are
unhappy; they are unhappy because they drink; and the vicious spiral
whirls on until one cannot tell which was cause and which effect.

 

The way back from this unfathomable torture must include treatment for
both the emotional obsession and the physical illness. Psychiatry and
medicine have worked together on thousands of cases and in some have been
successful. But their record of permanent success is discouragingly low.
The alcoholic is called the "heartbreak of the medical profession,"
because all too often the physician knows that the beaten, suicidal body
he is restoring will come back to him in a few months in exactly the
same, or a worse condition.

 

The positive results of Alcoholics Anonymous are inexplicably high. It is
usually estimated that nearly 75 per cent of alcoholics who try A.A.
therapy come through to success. In some cases it is fantastically
simple. At the end of their own resources, they ask for A.A. help, and
from that day on never take another drink. In other cases they are "on
and off" the program for months. I know of one young woman who tried for
three years to make it. Even some of the A.A.'s who worked with her lost
faith in her chances. But she stubbornly believed she would finally be
able to stop drinking. One night last week I went to her third" birthday"
party and I saw her blow out the candles on her cake.

 

She was unrecognizable as the person who struggled so hopelessly through
many twilit years. When she first heard of A.A., she had been drinking
for eight years, since she was nineteen. He family had finally given her
up, for she had drifted lower and lower until she was beyond their reach.
At the age of twenty-seven she looked forty - fat and sloppy and maudlin.
It was almost impossible to look at the tall slender girl in a smart
white frock, blowing out the three candles, and believe she had any
connection with the blowzy, fat woman who took her last drink three years
ago. She has lately married a wonderful, substantial man who understands
her perfectly and admires her wisely. They say they have the prize
marriage in captivity, and I must say it looks just that.

 

One of the miracles of A.A. is that it transforms bodies as well as
emotions and minds. The very substance of flesh and hair seems made over.
Women whose bodies have been degraded by neglect and abuse now value
their appearance, because, as one said to me, "God just seemed to paint a
new portrait of me."

 

That wasn't mere wishful thinking when I said you could find more than
average happiness in the lives of A.A. members. Of all groups on earth,
the people who have rescued themselves from the undersea horrors of
alcoholism are the most exuberantly joyous ones I've ever found. They are
not indifferent or bored now; all living has quickened to importance for
them. Does it seem unbelievable to you that you could ever be so
conspicuously happy - without anything to drink? You'll learn new
meanings for the word "happy."

 

When you stand outside a room where a group of Alcoholics Anonymous is
meeting, the most frequent sound you hear is laughter. Mellow laughter,
which can come only from people who have looked destruction and
catastrophe in the face, not once but continuously over long years, and
now are free and unafraid. The laughter, in short, of people who hold
God's hand and feel safe.

 

That is the basis of Alcoholics Anonymous, the fact almost incredible to
a world that is half-afraid to expect much of God in everyday life. The
single thing that decides whether or not you will find your sobriety, the
A.A.'s say is your willingness. Willingness to admit that you are
powerless over alcohol and that your life has become unmanageable. Then
willingness to turn your will and your life over to God, as you
understand Him. This is not glib willingness, by any means. It is not
achieved until you have passed your last outpost of helplessness. It is
at the point where "Man's extremity is God's opportunity."

 

It is such a deep cry for help that sometimes you yourself do not
recognize it as prayer. Until after it has been answered, that is.

 

For example, let me tell you about how a friend of mine found A.A. I'll
call her Nora because that is not her name. A.A. provides absolute
anonymity; one need not hesitate about trusting the privacy promised.
Nora had been an unhappy child in an unhappy home. Not much had ever gone
right for her, and she did not believe it ever would. As she grew up, one
tragedy after another happened, and she tried to escape by drinking.

 

The first good thing that came into her life was the love she and her
husband had for each other. Soon after they were married, Nora realized
she was an alcoholic. Before marrying she had believed she drank because
she was unhappy; now that she was happy she found herself unable to stop
drinking. She did everything possible to keep her husband from realizing
the truth about her. But her craving for alcohol was so uncontrollable
that as soon as he had left in the morning she gulped down several
drinks. (Alcoholics drink faster than most people.) She lay in bed most
of the day, hating herself. When her head felt as if it would split, she
put an ice pack on it; and when her husband came home, she quickly slid
the ice pack to her cheek, saying she had a toothache.

 

Gradually, of course, he found out the truth. He begged her to promise
not to touch alcohol, and she eagerly did. But the next time she was
alone, she was powerless to resist. Her husband got medical help for her,
but it did no good. She spent many sessions in sanitariums; those too
failed.

 

Nora told me about this period a few nights ago as she was driving me to
an A.A. meeting at our county jail. She said, "I've never been in jail
myself, but I know about solitary confinement. An alcoholic has prison
bars inside his own skull. He exists behind those bars in solitary
confinement."

 

This wretchedness continued for many years without a ray of hope. Then
one day she had an accident while driving. The doctors told her husband
she was going to die. Amazingly she recovered, and this seemed to her one
more evidence of her tragic bad luck, for she was sick of existence.

 

On the way home from the hospital, her husband told her he was going to
put her permanently in an institution, for both their sakes. She said she
would be committed willingly, because she loved him too much to keep
killing him by inches.

 

At home she was put immediately to bed, and she tells me that for the
first time in her life she cried out within herself to God. "If you can
hear me, help me," was all she said. She went to sleep for a while, and
when she woke up, she asked her husband to call a doctor. He said," Which
one, dear?" for many doctors had drifted in and out of her muddled
existence. She said the first name that came into her mind, a doctor she
had not seen for years.

 

In half an hour he was beside her bed. Since he had worked unsuccessfully
on her case, he had become interested in A.A. Immediately he phoned the
local A.A. office, nd within an hour a woman member arrived at Nora's
house.

 

Nora has never taken a drink since. She is convinced that the moment her
very simple prayer was said, it was answered. She never doubted that her
outcome was therefore safe. She is now a gentle and beautiful woman, full
of happiness and freedom. The fear and insecurities and her superstitious
belief that she was marked for "bad luck" have completely dropped away.
Her life is filled with activity and interest. But she never for a day
forgets that she has surrendered herself and her life to God's managing.
She remembers she is an incurable alcoholic and that one drink would
plunge her back into darkness. She tells me that every night before she
sleeps she says, "Thank you, God, for keeping me sober today."To show you
how complete is the allergy in some alcoholics, I'd like to tell you the
story of a grandmother, whom we'll call Jane, who took the first drink of
her life when she was fifty-nine years old. It was at a bridge party with
some new neighbors. The other guests had only a glass or two of punch,
but Jane couldn't seem to get enough of it. In fact, before the party
broke up, the hostess mixed her several cocktails, for it seemed most
amusing to see the proper little middle-aged woman suddenly so crazy
about drinking. By the time Jane's husband, Jim, called for her she was
hilariously making a nuisance of herself. Jim got her home and into bed,
and she fell immediately to sleep. But just as she was dropping off she
said, "Jim, we've missed the best part of life. Tomorrow I'm going to mix
you some nice cocktails."

 

The next morning Jane went boldly into a package store and bought a
bottle of rye. Her intention was to have one drink, for medicinal
purposes, and to save the rest for cocktails to show Jim what they had
been missing. But the one drink led Jane straight through the bottle. She
was an alcoholic, completely and fully developed, just waiting for the
first drop to set her off.

 

From that day on she was a problem drinker, completely out of control. At
first it seemed screamingly funny that this could happen to such a little
homebody. But before a month had passed, both Jim and she knew she was in
real trouble. Her sons couldn't believe what had happened; it sounded too
fantastic. But there was no doubt about her alcoholism, for nothing else
mattered to her but her day's quart. Her minister prayer over her; her
daughters-in-law kept the grand children out of her sight; her physician
gave her a drug, Antabuse, which creates an aversion to liquor. But that
neatly killed her when, in spite of warnings, she drank alcohol
immediately afterward.

 

Six horrifying years followed. When she couldn't get money any other way,
she went out on the street and begged for it. She sold her clothes, stole
from her husband, and even got a job cleaning up a cocktail lounge, "for
drinks." The day she was picked up by the police as drunk and disorderly,
she hit bottom. Then, all by herself she went to an A.A. meeting. It was
the beginning of the way back.

 

An Alcoholics Anonymous meeting is a tremendous experience I for anyone,
even for a nonalcoholic like me. First of all, you are surprised to
discover that it is not a solemn occasion. You find a cross section of
types present, and except for those who are attending for the first time,
everyone is laughing and talking. Only first names are used, for purposes
of anonymity. The only distinguishing mark of the group is that everyone
is unusually kind and affectionate toward everyone else. It is as if all
shyness and shame and pretence have been stripped away and people are
acting spontaneously - from within themselves instead of from the
cautious exterior.

 

A.A.'s have told me that they felt at home for the first time in their
whole lives when they attended such a meeting. This is understandable,
for here no one criticizes, or blames, or is disgusted or shocked at
anything. Here is utter understanding, because each person present has
suffered through the same purgatories. Here also are people you cannot
fool with the alibis and dodges and deceits the alcoholic always has at
hand. Here are people who know 'em all and cheerfully tell you so. It is
a relief to be among such people after you have lived for years in a maze
of lies and subterfuges. It is as exhilarating as if you discovered a
whole new race, with meanness and false pride omitted. It is as
comfortable as if you were in a room full of people who all turned out to
be yourself in different guises. You know you can trust them to see you
as good - and as bad - as you are, without blame or shame.

 

Meetings follow a simple pattern. In California, for instance, an A.A.
meeting would proceed in much this way: A chapter called "How It Works"
is read from the Alcoholics Anonymous "textbook." A member volunteers to
act as chairman to conduct the meeting. The chairman may begin by saying,
"Good evening, friends. I am an alcoholic." After telling a little of his
own history, he introduces speakers he has selected to tell about
themselves. Each speaker, man or woman, tells what he was, what he is
now, and how he made the trip between the two states of being. They tell
their stories with complete frankness and often with much humor. An
alcoholic attending for the first time id often shattered with relief at
hearing the horrors, which all his life have been mentioned in
self-righteous whispers, now being talked about in plain words and with
laughter. Inhibitions and self-condemnation too painful to admit collapse
like walls of wax under this quite simple therapy.

 

When I ask A.A. how they can laugh and joke about their old sufferings,
they say, "Well, you see, all that happened to my worst enemy. Not to me,
certainly." It is the most wholesome kind of divorcement from the past
that any therapy has ever achieved. The past was a series of hangovers;
but when that past departs, it leaves neither hangover nor scar.

 

At the end of the meeting there is a moment of silent prayer; then
everyone rises and repeats the Lord's Prayer in unison. I defy anyone to
take part in this and remain untouched. Then there is coffee and cake and
an hour of friendly companionship. Many alcoholics have become bankrupt
in their social live, and A.A. offers them comfortable and easy
opportunity to make friends again and to "belong."

 

There are meetings every day; in Los Angeles alone there are thirty-five
meetings nightly. They are usually attended by slightly more men than
women. There are also stag meetings for men who feel freer when no women
are present, and all-woman groups, some of which meet in the morning or
the afternoon.

 

Besides the usual meeting places, in many cities clubrooms are
maintained, where friends may have a meal together, play a little bridge,
read magazines, or just talk (one of the alcoholic's favorite enjoyments
after years of evasiveness). Actually alcoholics are gregarious people
who have deeply hurt themselves by destroying human relationships. Now
they return to trusting and being trusted with utter sincerity.

 

Alcoholism is an incurable disease; one suffering from it can never
return to social drinking. The allergy is present for a lifetime, but
with A.A. there is no fear about it. One does not have to hide from
alcohol or avoid normal drinkers. One need only be on guard against the
first drink - always, as long as life lasts. A.A.'s say cheerfully,"
Don't take the first drink, and you'll never take any other." This is
possible one day at a time, A.A.'s keep close to the presence of God, and
through this closeness the multiple problems that once tore down every
department of their lives are finally solved, and the rebuilding goes on
almost effortlessly.

 

If you have come this far in my letter to you my unknown friend, you must
know how uncondemning I am about you. And the love I have for you is
multiplied by thousands. All you need do now is reach out and touch that
love, for it is waiting to put itself into action for you. Help is as
close to you as your telephone at this moment.

 

Your telephone directory holds the number; look it up under the A's -
Alcoholics Anonymous. Ask for a woman to come to see you. No need for you
to tell anyone else that you have taken this step. When she comes, you
won't have to tell her anything painful about yourself; you won't have to
tell her much of anything. She knows all about you - more than you know
about yourself. For she has gone every step of the way you've gone, and
even farther. And she has come to sobriety and usefulness and a life she
never could have imagined possible for herself.

 

If you find what is there for you, maybe you'll write and tell me. Or
better than that, find another woman who needs it and tell her. God bless
you now.

 

Source: Good Housekeeping, March 1954



-- Edited by Sobrietyspell on Monday 26th of April 2010 12:24:11 AM

-- Edited by John on Thursday 19th of August 2010 07:17:53 AM


 



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S. Moeton


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Posts: 1
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very great reading. I am trying to quit (again) this time for good. I had a job that was stressful and I literally would run home and get drunk every night, until I blacked out and finally crashed in bed only to do it over and over. I find anything stressful.... drink is my answer to stopping the stressing so it became a bad pattern. Alone, I drink nightly almost fighting with my brain no then yes and yes always seemed to work.

I would like to find a sponsor and go to meetings again.I live in Boynton Beach, FL now, alone, and worry that one day I may really do something bad. Does anyone or does anyone know of any groups or a sponsor that I an speak to about finally doing this Been drinking hard 30 years almost and its just getting old and taking a toll on me, with no rewards or happy memories only to worry about what I said or did to make a fool of myself. on the other hand, I consider myself a business woman that takes pride in my work, I did make great money (when I am working as I got fired from my jobs along the journey{waking up hungover, not showing up due to being sick the next day not being coherent enough to perform my daily duties.

Hoping someone can reach out and give me some advise on how to begin being sober again. ready for meetings but afraid to go alone, the first time anyway.

If you want to write me or know of anyone in Boynton beach, FL that I an connect with and talk, I need a good sponsor which I never really had.

thank you for listening.

Terry in Boynton Beach, FL my email Is teryberyoco@gmail.com

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Terry


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Thank you John

 



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