I had some sense that things would be different this time. But given the false promises/starts I’d made before, I just kept it to myself.
Don’t know what made me pick up my Boston office phone late that morning — 30 years ago today — and dial the number. Even after three decades to make sense of it, I don’t know. I just did it.
A female voice answered, “Hello.”
Me: “Is there a meeting right now?”
Her: “You mean today?”
Me: “Actually I was thinking now, as in… Right Now.”
Her: “Lemme check the schedule.”… Pause… “The Golden Slumber group in Somerville has a lunch meeting today.”
Me: “Is that for old people? Would they let me in?”
Her: “Yes. And I doubt they’ll turn you away.”
I hung up the phone… grabbed my raincoat… walked out of my office… headed out into a classic Boston drizzle… got on the T… and made my way to Somerville where a friendly white-haired guy welcomed me, offering me a cup of coffee and a chair.
I sat down amid a sea of white-haired folks. I haven’t had a drink since.
In the early going, especially that first year, lots of people helped me, many of whom were nameless. (I came to discover that oddity as a big part of the whole idea.)
The months clicked by. The craving began to wane. Before long I liked the new me. I wanted to keep being that new guy. I reveled in the Year #1 Pink Cloud. Then I transcended it, realizing two things: 1) I still had a lot of the same problems and shortcomings I had when I drank; 2) Except now they somehow seemed more manageable.
I met lots of wise men and women from all walks of life. I drew strength from some of their sayings:
– “Stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything.”
– “Every time I drank I didn’t get in trouble, but every time I was in trouble I’d been drinking.”
– “If you start having problems that you didn’t have before you started drinking, then the drinking’s a problem.”
– “Humility doesn’t mean thinking less of yourself; It means thinking of yourself less.”
– “AA’s for the people who want it, not the people who need it. If it was for the people who needed it, they’d have to hold the meetings at Fenway Pahk.” (That guy was from Boston.)
The big lesson was that I couldn’t quit. I had to surrender. Each time I’d try to control it, I’d discover that it had been in control of me the whole time. So, I copied people who seemed to get it. I did what they said to do. Before long, I got it.
Some people say it’s the higher power that gets you there. Some say it’s the people themselves. I don’t know. I just don’t know. But I’m grateful.
Onward, Malcolm Gauld