when I acknowledged publicly that I was powerless over alcohol. But joining AA
involved more than admitting I was an alcoholic. In many ways, that was easy. The other
part—realizing that I thought like an alcoholic— was really difficult.
It wasn’t simply giving up my addictive behavior that was required. I needed to
change the way I thought about life, which has been more challenging. Drinking caused
me problems—no doubt about it; but it was thinking like an alcoholic that made my life a
wasteland. It produced chaos, dysfunction, and insanity—each requiring years of sobriety
to transform. At the time, I had no idea what would be necessary to make me whole; I
just knew I needed help and lots of it.
My surrender was also an admission that I needed God to heal me and restore me
to sanity. Every successful AA story is a God story. Even though I had been a Christian
for years, it wasn’t enough. I couldn’t solve my problem with alcohol on my own—most
people can’t. I needed recovery—not abstinence.
***As I end my story, perhaps the best place to do so is where it all began— at an
A year after my meeting with Mona, I went to a 5:45 meeting at Triangle, where I
have been a regular for years. I brought Jordan with me. She had just graduated from The
University of Georgia with a degree in psychology. She was getting a graduate degree so
that she could counsel children who have been sexually abused. Obviously, I’m very
proud of her and the choice she has made.
As the AA meeting ended and the chips were being given, Jordan stepped up and
said, “Hi, my name is Jordan.”
“Hi, Jordan,” several hundred people responded in unison.
She continued, “I’m not an alcoholic, but my dad is. This is his fifteenth
anniversary of sobriety, which is a special milestone for him. That’s why I want to give
him his chip.” Turning her eyes to me, she said, “I’m very proud of you, Daddy.” With
that, she gave me a blue chip, as tears started to fill her eyes.
Accepting the chip with misty eyes, I looked at the crowd and said, “Hi, my name
“Hi, Jack,” came the familiar response.
“I’m an alcoholic, and it’s been fifteen years since my last drink.”
The audience, which was filled with familiar faces, all clapped, smiled, and
hooted their approbation. It was a wonderful moment.
As the applause subsided, I said, “I remember the day I picked up my white chip
like it was yesterday. I was determined to stop drinking, but I had no idea how to do it. It
took about a year for me to come to the point where I no longer craved alcohol. I thought
that was all I needed.”
When I said this, most people laughed. Like me, they knew my journey to
sobriety had just begun.
Continuing, I said, “By the time I picked up my five-year chip, I no longer
thought like an alcoholic. It took that long for me to become sober—completely sober.”
Several newcomers groaned when I said this, recognizing the daunting task that
lay before them.
“When I picked up my ten-year chip,” I said, “I had finally learned how to
incorporate my recovery tools into other areas of my life. And from then until now—my
fifteenth anniversary—I’ve learned how to live day-by-day in recovery, especially the
value of honesty.”
Looking at Jordan who was beaming, I smiled. “Most people don’t learn to live
until they are told they are dying,” I said. “I want more for my life than that. From this
point forward, my goal is fulfillment, which is achievable, as long as I remain sober in
body and spirit—one day at a time. Thanks for being there for me when few others were.
It means the world to me.”
As I sat down, I realized I was no longer a prisoner of my past. My chains have
been broken, and I’m free to go forward, embracing the truth and the light. I’m free to
As the meeting ended, Jordan and I drove off in my Volvo convertible. The
weather was lovely, and everything felt in sync.
With the top down and the wind gently blowing, Jordan turned to me and asked,
“Dad, do you think you’ll ever get married again?”
It was a great question. After so many failed attempts, sobriety and counseling
had taught me that I was okay the way I was and didn’t require a woman to feel good
about myself. Perhaps Humpty Dumpty would have to remain broken forever.
At the same time, I knew I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life alone; so I
answered, “I’m not sure whether or not there will be a caboose to this train, Jordan.”
Smiling, I added, “I’ll keep you posted.”
Knowing me as well as she does, Jordan just grinned mischievously; so did I. I guess we
both knew the answer.
Book Quotes that I felt were important (few among many)
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