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"Me an Alcoholic?"
419 in 2nd edition, p. 432 in 3rd edition, p 382 in the
Stopped in Time
squeezed this author - but he escaped quite whole."
This author's date of sobriety
is believed to be November 1947.
He reveals little of his
childhood years or his origin, just the hint when discussing
his seven years in psychotherapy that someone had coddled
him and built him up, and then turned and beat him savagely.
He was a father, husband,
homeowner, athlete, artist, musician, author, editor, aircraft
pilot, and world traveler. He was listed in "Who's Who in
America." He had been successful in the publishing business,
and his opinions were quoted in "Time" and "Newsweek" with
pictures, and he addressed the public by radio and television.
He drank heavily as was
common in the literary circles in which he traveled. "Evening
cocktails were as standard as morning coffee," and his average
daily consumption ran a little more or less than a pint.
This did not seem to affect his work. He was never drunk
on the job, never missed a day's work, was seldom rendered
totally ineffective by a hangover and kept his liquor expenses
well within his adequate budget. How could he possibly be
But he occasionally went
on binges, usually one-night stands. In twenty-five years
of drinking there were only a few occasions when he took
a morning drink. He usually had excuses for the binges and
tried several methods of controlling his drinking. These
plans seemed to work for short periods.
Inwardly unhappy he turned
to psychoanalysis. He spent seven years and ten thousand
dollars on psychiatric care and emerged in worse condition
than ever, although he learned a lot about himself, which
would be useful later. His binges got closer and closer
together and with more and more disastrous results. Soon
he was in suicidal despair.
After his last binge, during
which he did considerable damage to his home, he crawled
back to his analyst and told him he thought he was an alcoholic.
His doctor agreed. He said
he hadn't told him because he hadn't been sure until recently.
The line between a heavy drinker and an alcoholic is not
always clear, and that he wouldn't have believed him had
he told him. The doctor admitted that there was nothing
he could do for him, and that there was nothing medicine
could do for him. But he suggested A.A.
Many times in the years
that followed the author thanked God for that doctor, a
man who had the courage to admit failure and the humility
to confess that all the hard-won learning of his profession
could not turn up the answer.
In A.A. he found the power
he needed. In the seven years since he had come to A.A.
he had not had a drink.
He still had some hell to
go through. His tower of worldly success collapsed, his
alcoholic associates fired him, took control, and ran the
enterprise into bankruptcy. His alcoholic wife took up with
someone else and divorced him, taking with her all his remaining
But the most terrible blow
was when his sixteen-year-old son was tragically killed.
"The Higher Power was on deck to see me through, sober.
I think He's on hand to see my son through, too. I think
He's on hand to see all of us through whatever may come
Some wonderful things had
happened, too. His new wife and he didn't own any property
to speak of and the flashy successes of another day were
gone. But they had a baby "who, if you'll pardon a little
post-alcoholic sentimentality, is right out of Heaven."
His work was on a much deeper and more significant level
than it ever was before, and he was, at the time he wrote
his story, a fairly creative, relatively sane human being.
"And should I have more bad times," he wrote, "I know that
I'll never again have to go through these alone."