Thank You So Very Much

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Thank You So Very Much

Postby BookWorm » Wed Jun 22, 2011 9:34 pm

I believe it would be good to tell the story of my
life. Doing so will give me the opportunity to
remember that I must be grateful to God and to those
members of Alcoholics Anonymous who knew A.A.
before me. Telling my story reminds me that I could
go back to where I was if I forget the wonderful things
that have been given to me or forget that God is the
guide who keeps me on this path.
In June 1924 , I was sixteen years old and had just
graduated from high school in Sherbrooke, Quebec.
Some of my friends suggested that we go for a beer. I
had never had beer or any other form of alcohol. I
don’t know why, since we always had alcohol at home
(I should add that no one in my family was ever con-
sidered an alcoholic). Well, I was afraid my friends
wouldn’t like me if I didn’t do as they did. I knew
firsthand that mysterious state of people who appear
to be sure of themselves but are actually eaten alive
with fear inside. I had a rather strong inferiority com-
plex. I believe I lacked what my father used to call
“character.” So on that nice summer day in an old inn
in Sherbrooke, I didn’t find the courage to say no.
I became an active alcoholic from that first day,
when alcohol produced a very special effect in me. I
was transformed. Alcohol suddenly made me into
what I had always wanted to be.
Alcohol became my everyday companion. At first, I
considered it a friend; later, it became a heavy load I
couldn’t get rid of. It turned out to be much more
powerful than I was, even if, for many years, I could
stay sober for short periods. I kept telling myself that
one way or another I would get rid of alcohol. I was
convinced I would find a way to stop drinking. I didn’t
want to acknowledge that alcohol had become so im-
portant in my life. Indeed, alcohol was giving me
something I didn’t want to lose.
In 1934 , a series of mishaps occurred because of my
drinking. I had to come back from Western Canada
because the bank I worked for lost confidence in me.
An elevator accident cost me all of the toes of one foot
and a skull fracture. I was in the hospital for months.
My excessive drinking also caused a brain hemor-
rhage, which completely paralyzed one side of my
body. I probably did my First Step the day I came by
ambulance to Western Hospital. A night-shift nurse
asked me, “Mr. B., why do you drink so much? You
have a wonderful wife, a bright little boy. You have no
reason to drink like that. Why do you?” Being honest
for the first time, I said, “I don’t know, Nurse. I really
don’t know.” That was many years before I learned
about the Fellowship.
You might think I’d tell myself, “If alcohol causes so
much harm, I will stop drinking.” But I found count-
less reasons to prove to myself that alcohol had noth-
ing to do with my misfortunes. I told myself it was
because of fate, because everyone was against me, be-
cause things weren’t going well. I sometimes thought
that God did not exist. I thought, “If this loving God
exists, as they say, He would not treat me this way.
God would not act like this.” I felt sorry for myself a
lot in those days.
My family and employers were concerned about my
drinking, but I had become rather arrogant. I bought
a 1931 Ford with an inheritance from my grand-
mother, and my wife and I made a trip to Cape Cod.
On the way back, we stopped at my uncle’s place in
New Hampshire. This uncle had taken me under his
wing at the time of my mother’s death, and he worried
about me. Now he said to me, “Dave, if you stop
drinking for a full year, I will give you the Ford road-
ster I just bought.” I loved that car, so I immediately
promised I wouldn’t drink for a whole year. And I
meant it. Yet I was drinking again before we reached
the Canadian border. I was powerless over alcohol. I
was learning that I could do nothing to fight it off,
even while I was denying the fact.
On Easter weekend 1944 , I found myself in a jail
cell in Montreal. By now, I was drinking to escape the
horrible thoughts I had whenever I was sober enough
to become aware of my situation. I was drinking to
avoid seeing what I had become. The job I’d had for
twenty years and the new car were long gone. I had
undergone three stays in a psychiatric hospital. God
knows I didn’t want to drink, yet to my great despair,
I always returned to the infernal merry-go-round.
I wondered how this misery would end. I was full of
fear. I was afraid to tell others what I felt lest they
would think I was insane. I was terribly lonely, full of
self-pity, and terrified. Most of all, I was in a deep de-
pression. Then I recalled a book given to me by my sister
Jean about drunks as desperate as I was who had
found a way to stop drinking. According to this book,
these drunks had found a way to live like other human
beings: to get up in the morning, go to work, and re-
turn home in the evening. This book was about
Alcoholics Anonymous.
I decided to get in touch with them. I had much
difficulty in reaching A.A. in New York, as A.A. wasn’t
as well-known then. I finally spoke to a woman,
Bobbie, who said words I hope I never forget: “I am
an alcoholic. We have recovered. If you want, we’ll
help you.” She told me about herself and added that
many other drunks had used this method to stop
drinking. What impressed me most in this conversation
was the fact that these people, five hundred miles
away, cared enough to try to help me. Here I was,
feeling so sorry for myself, convinced that no one
cared whether I was dead or alive.
I was very surprised when I got a copy of the Big
Book in the mail the following day. And each day after
that, for nearly a year, I got a letter or a note, some-
thing from Bobbie or from Bill or one of the other
members of the central office in New York. In
October 1944 , Bobbie wrote: “You sound very sincere
and from now on we will be counting on you to per-
petuate the Fellowship of A.A. where you are. You will
find enclosed some queries from alcoholics. We think
you are now ready to take on this responsibility.” She
had enclosed some four hundred letters that I an-
swered in the course of the following weeks. Soon, I
began to get answers back.
In my new enthusiasm, and having found an answer
to my problem, I told Dorie, my wife, “You can quit
your job now; I will take care of you. From now on,
you will take the place you deserve in this family.”
However, she knew better. She said, “No, Dave, I will
keep my job for a year while you go save the drunks.”
That is exactly what I set out to do.
As I look back on it now, I did everything wrong,
but at least I was thinking of somebody else instead of
myself. I had begun to get a little bit of something I
am very full of now, and that is gratitude. I was be-
coming increasingly grateful to the people in New
York and to the God they referred to but whom I
found difficult to reach. (Yet I realized I had to seek
the Higher Power I was told about.)
I was all alone in Quebec at that time. The Toronto
Group had been in operation since the previous fall,
and there was a member in Windsor who attended
meetings across the river in Detroit. That was A.A. in
its entirety in this country.
One day I got a letter from a man in Halifax who
wrote, “One of my friends, a drunk, works in
Montreal, but he is currently in Chicago, where he
went on a major binge. When he returns to Montreal,
I’d like you to talk to him.”
I met this man at his home. His wife was cooking
dinner, their young daughter at her side. The man was
wearing a velvet jacket and sitting comfortably in his
parlor. I hadn’t met many people from high society. I
immediately thought, “What’s going on here? This
man isn’t an alcoholic!” Jack was a down-to-earth per-
son. He was used to discussions about psychiatry, and
the concept of a Higher Power didn’t appeal to him
very much. But from our meeting, A.A. was born here
in Quebec.
The Fellowship started to grow, most particularly
following the publicity we got in the Gazette in the
spring of 1945 . I will never forget the day that Mary
came to see me—she was the first woman to join our
Fellowship here. She was very shy and reserved, very
low-key. She had heard of the Fellowship through the
Gazette .
For the first year, all the meetings were held in my
home. There were people all over the house. The
wives of members used to come with their husbands,
though we didn’t allow them in our closed meetings.
They used to sit on the bed or in the kitchen, where
they would make coffee and snacks. I believe they
were wondering what would happen to us. Yet they
were as happy as we were.
The first two French Canadians to learn about A.A.
did so in the basement of my home. All French-speak-
ing meetings in existence today were born out of those
early meetings.
At the end of my first year of sobriety, my wife
agreed to leave her job after I found some work. I
thought that would be easy. All I had to do was go see
an employer and I’d be able to support my family in
a normal fashion. However, I looked for work for
many months. We didn’t have much money, and I was
spending the little we had going from one place to the
other, answering ads and meeting people. I was get-
ting more and more discouraged. One day, a member
said, “Dave, why don’t you apply at the aircraft fac-
tory? I know a fellow there who could help you.” So
that was where I got my first job. There really is a
Higher Power looking after us.
One of the most fundamental things I have learned
is to pass on our message to other alcoholics. That
means I must think more about others than about my-
self. The most important thing is to practice these
principles in all my affairs. In my opinion, that is what
Alcoholics Anonymous is all about.
I never forgot a passage I first read in the copy of
the Big Book that Bobbie sent me: “Abandon yourself
to God as you understand God. Admit your faults to
Him and to your fellows. Clear away the wreckage of
your past. Give freely of what you find and join us.” It
is very simple—though not always easy. But it can be
I know the Fellowship of A.A. doesn’t offer any
guarantees, but I also know that in the future I do not
have to drink. I want to keep this life of peace, serenity,
and tranquility that I have found. Today, I have
found again the home I left and the woman I married
when she was still so young. We have two more chil-
dren, and they think their dad is an important man. I
have all these wonderful things—people who mean
more to me than anything in the world. I shall keep all
that, and I won’t have to drink, if I remember one
simple thing: to keep my hand in the hand of God.
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