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"Growing Up All Over Again"
(p. 418, 3rd edition.)
Stopped in Time
"A 'good boy' reached adulthood
and success without achieving maturity or fulfillment.
Defeated by alcohol and pills, he found the way to a new
Harris's date of sobriety
is believed to be 1960.
He was a second-generation
A.A. member, taken to A.A. by a woman whom his father had
taken to A.A. thirteen years earlier.
He neither drank nor smoked
until he was nineteen years old. He was an honor graduate
in high school, and the "good boy" to whom mothers pointed
when their sons went astray. He was awarded a scholarship
to a famous old eastern college, but began to drink at the
end of his freshman year. By junior year he had to transfer
to an easier state university to keep his grades up.
He entered dental school,
his admission, oddly enough, arranged by the dentist who
started A.A. in Amarillo, Texas. During his first year there,
He went through dental school
sober, for the most part, except that he imitated his father's
periodic drinking pattern by getting drunk at a few parties
and on vacation. He graduated with honors, but could feel
no real responsibility as a father or a husband.
Then he served a four-year
tour in the Navy, two of which were spent in the Philippines.
He described his life there as "a nightmare of periodic
binges on alcohol and pills, adultery, unhappy hours at
the dental office, seeing my wife give birth to our second
child and have several miscarriages, living in a turbulent
household, and making continual attempts to be the respectable
dentist, husband, father, and community leader."
His return to the united
States proved effective as a geographical cure, and he was
sober for a while, with the help of the church. He had another
brief period of sobriety when he went back to his hometown
to go into private practice, but it did not take long for
the pressures to bring out his immaturity and his insecurity.
By the age of twenty-eight
he was well established and had been elected president of
a civic club, was a deacon and a Sunday-school teacher,
and had a lovely wife and three children. His wife was in
the Junior League, and he was on the board of directors
of the local center for the mentally retarded. But he had
a queasy feeling in the pit of his stomach, which hinted
to him that everything was phony. He had no real peace of
mind, nor any gratitude.
In less than two years he
had lost his practice, his home, his wife and children.
He tried the church and psychiatry and finally came to A.A.
He was twenty-nine when he had his last drunk. During that
last drunk, which lasted four days, he threatened to kill
his children, beat his wife at home and on the church steps,
mistreated a child in his office, and ran to a hospital
for mental illness to avoid jail.
He came to A.A. simply because
there were no other doors of help open to him in his hometown.
After coming to A.A. he
was divorced, lost his practice, was legally restrained
from seeing his children, went broke, and the dental society
threatened him with the loss of his license. Only A.A. kept
him from running away.
He went to meetings frequently,
listened to tapes and attended A.A. conferences, worked
on the Twelve Steps and with other alcoholics and their
A.A. gave him a new wife
who was also an A.A. member, a beautiful stepdaughter, a
new practice, a new home, and a new relationship with his
four children. Most important, it enabled him to go back
and start growing up all over again in all areas of his
He asks at the end of his
story, "Why am I alive, free, a respected member of my community?"
And he answers his own question: "Because A.A. really works
It appears that Harris is
still living. I was given his full name and hometown. His
name is still in the phone book there - twice actually,
the second perhaps his son - so I have not revealed his
full name or hometown.