| print this
might have been the time
too needed spiritual development
by Lois W.
Grapevine, Inc, February 1950
is hard to say just when Alcoholics Anonymous began. It
may have been at the time a friend came to see my husband,
Bill. Or it may have been at the moment of Bills spiritual
experience. Most AAs feel it is the time six months later
when he met Dr. Bob in Akron and, together, they started
to help other alcoholics who wanted to be rid of their addiction.
But for me it was the day I first saw the released expression
on my husbands face. We had been married 17 years,
and were compatible and companionable. Our interests were
similar and we both deeply desired and strove for the others
welfare. The only, but considerable block to our happiness
was Bills uncontrolled drinking. In early years he
said that he could stop when he wanted and I thought Id
soon be able to make life so complete for him that he would
wish to quit drinking entirely. Much later when he really
did want to stop, he was absolutely unable to do so, and
we both then became terribly confused and frustrated. Oddly
enough he had been in other matters a person of strong will
power, but his will seemed to melt away where alcohol was
concerned. In his remorse and disappointment he was a tragic
and heart breaking figure. I too felt myself a failure,
for despite every endeavor, I had not been able to help
him in time, nor could I aid him in the least in his final
struggle for freedom.
Today I can talk and write about these intimate details
of our life together. While Bill was drinking, I dared not
even speak to my family about it and tried to hide the fact
of his alcoholism in every way possible. Now that I have
learned that Bill was actually a very sick man, that awful
feeling of disgrace has left me. I have also learned how
much help the telling of such experiences can be to those
who are going through similar ones. After fifteen years
in AA the old trying times are so far away and foreign to
Bills and my present way of life that it seems like
the experience of someone else.
After Bill left the hospital for the last time, he began
to think of the thousands of alcoholics who wanted to be
rid of their malady. If they could be made to feel desperate
enough, they might have a releasing experience just like
his. He would hold before them the medical verdict that
alcoholism was hopeless. So tirelessly, day and night, we
worked. Our home was filled with alcoholics in various stages
of sobriety. As many as five of them lived with us at one
time. But none of them stayed sober for long. Then started
a long process of trial and error, certain ideas were retained,
but many discarded.
It was in June 1935 that Bill went to Akron, Ohio on a business
trip. The venture failed. He finally contacted Dr. Bob,
an Akron surgeon soon to become cofounder of Alcoholics
Anonymous. Bob too wanted above all to stop drinking. He
and his wife, Anne, had done everything they could.
Something passed between these two men. There was real mutuality
this time. By example they showed how it worked. Thus AA
spread like a chain letter.
Bill had learned a great deal. At first he had tried to
put every alcoholic he met in the way of a spiritual experience
just like his own. As AA grew, he realized that what had
come to him in a few dramatic minutes usually dawns on others
in months or years. Sometimes the alcoholic himself does
not even realize his own development, though his words and
actions soon speak for him, for he is doing now what, of
himself, he was unable to do before. He is staying sober
and helping other people as never before. He is gaining
a serenity, a joy in living.
Watching Bill and the other men at the meetings, I noticed
many of them had begun to grow by leaps and bounds. This
made me look at myself. I had been given a sound religious
upbringing and felt I had done for Bill all a good wife
could do, although this was strangely mixed with a sense
of failure. At first it never occurred to me that I too
needed spiritual development. I did not realize that by
living such an abnormal life I might have become twisted,
losing a sense of true values. After awhile I saw that unless
I jumped on the bandwagon too, I would be left way behind.
The AA Program I found could be most helpful to the non-alcoholic
as well, a fact thousands of alcoholics relatives
and friends now apply to their own lives. Those Clinton
Street days are full of memories. Some of them are humorous,
some tragic. But most of them bring back a warm glow of
hope and courage, of friendship and rebirth. For the fellowship
in AA is unique. Ties are made overnight that it would take
years to develop elsewhere. No one needs a false front.
All barriers are down. Some who have felt outcasts all their
lives, now know they really belong. From feeling as if they
were dragging anchor through life, they suddenly sail free
before the wind. For now they can be of tremendous and peculiar
use to others having a dire need like their own.
© The A.A. Grapevine,
Inc., February 1950
practicing our Traditions, The AA Grapevine, Inc. has neither
endorsed nor are they affiliated with Silkworth.net.
The Grapevine®, and AA Grapevine® are registered
trademarks of The AA Grapevine, Inc.
W. Grapevine index | Grapevine