EARLY youth I believe I had some of the tendencies which
lead to alcoholism. I refer to attempted escapes from
At fifteen and sixteen,
although free at home to drink small amounts of beer and
wine, I drank considerable quantities of stronger liquors
at school and other places. Not enough to cause serious
worry, but enough apparently to give me occasionally what
I thought I wanted. Escape? A feeling of superiority?
I do not know.
I then decided I'd
had enough of school, which decision was probably shared
by the schools. The next few years were spent in civil
engineering work, travel, sports, and a little idleness,
and I seem to have avoided alcoholic difficulties of the
more pronounced kind.
marriage and in the short time before sailing for France,
alcohol began to take a real part in my life. A year and
a half in war time France postponed the inevitable and
the post war period of hopes and plans brought me nearer
and nearer to the point where I eventually found myself
to be an alcoholic. Not that I would have admitted it
then, having the alcoholic's usual facility for deception,
both to self and others.
suspecting that drinking was the basis for most of my
troubles but never admitting it, I had enough left in
health, interests of various
and luck to carry on with considerable success.
About this time I
stopped all social drinking. I became a periodical drunkard,
the sprees lasting from three days to three weeks and
the dry intervals lasting from three weeks to four months.
During one of the
best years, I made a happy marriage and the age of thirty-five
found me with the following: a beautiful little home presided
over by a kind, understanding, and lovely wife; a partnership
in a firm I had helped to found years before; more than
a comfortable income; many luxuries and many friends;
opportunity to follow my interests and hobbies; a love
of my work; pride in my success; great health; optimism;
and hope on the credit side. On the other hand, I had
a growing, gnawing fear of my recurring trouble.
I slipped by far too
easy stages to the bottom in less than eight years. Not
a pleasant place, the bottom. Sometimes I slept in a cheap
hotel or rooming house, sometimes a flop house, sometimes
the back room of a police station and once in a doorway;
many times in the alcoholic ward at a hospital, and once
in a subway toilet. Sometimes decently fed, clothed, and
housed, I worked at my business on commission with a large
firm; sometimes I dared not appear there cold, hungry,
with torn clothes, shaking body and muddled brain advertising
what I had become. Helpless, hopeless, bitter.
Sometimes I was apparently
on the way back, and sometimes writhing in bed for days
at a time, terrorized by the fear of insanity and by the
spectres of people without faces, people with horrible
faces, people grimacing and laughing at me and my misery.
dreams from which I would awake with a scream of agony
and bathed in cold sweat. Tortured by day dreams of what
might have been, dreams of the kindness, faith and love
that had been heaped upon me.
Due to this last however,
and to what little remained of my former self and perhaps
to some lingering power of spiritual faith, I became somewhat
better. Not well, but better.
This helped me to
take stock and to try to do some clear thinking. I found
my inventory somewhat mixed, but as my thoughts became
clearer, I grew much better and at last arrived at that
point where for the first time in several years I could
see some light and hope ahead of me. Through a haze of
doubt and skepticism I began to realize, partly at least,
many things in myself which had greased the path I had
pursued, and some vague thoughts and ideas came to me
that are now crystallizing with the help of the men I
have been happy to join.
What thoughts and
ideas? The answer is short, although the road to it is
long and tedious.
My intelligence, instead
of drawing me further away from spiritual faith is bringing
me closer to it. I no longer react in quite the same way
when my will and desires are apparently frustrated.
The simple words "Thy
Will Be Done" and the simple ideas of honesty and of helping
others are taking on a new meaning for me. I should not
be surprised to find myself coming to the astounding conclusion
that God, whoever or whatever He may be, is eminently
more capable of running this universe than I am. At last
I believe I am on my way.