“My name is Bob and I’m an Alcoholic! I had my last drink on October 1, 1976 at about 2 a.m. It was a beer. If I would have known it was my last drink, I might have had good Scotch. But as it was, it was a beer.
The night before, when my wife came home from work, I told her I needed help. She jumped all over that and said, “Let’s go!” I replied, “I didn’t mean right this minute.” Well, she said we had to go right then. When I said we’d go tomorrow, she took he kids and went to her sister’s house. She called me in the morning and said that either I go to treatment right then or she would go see a lawyer and file for divorce. So that day I went to St Catherine’s Hospital in Kenosha, Wisconsin and began my sober life.
I was born in Chicago in 1944. My dad was a supervisor at American Can Co. Mom was a housewife. She was also an alcoholic. She drank at home – always at night and straight booze. She was a very good mom. All my friends were jealous and said they wished they had a “cool” mom like I did. But none of them knew the secret about the night. My dad was a big guy and a great man. It was hard to live up to his expectations of me. Both of my parents loved me and I never was hungry or lacking anything. I went to Catholic schools and my grades were above average. But my teachers always said, “He has so much more potential.” I always felt I wasn’t quite good enough. But I always got by. I was a skinny kid and never learned how to fight until I got in high school.
Other than a sip of dad’s beer, my first drink was at a Christmas party my senior year of high school. I drank a little bit of everything that night and got sick on the way home. I was really sick the next day. My dad asked me if I got drunk and felt like I wanted to die. When I said yes, he said, “go ahead and die!” that was prophetic because by the end of my drinking I wanted to die every night.
There were lots of drinks and drunks between that night and my last night of drinking. Nothing spectacular happened. I was arrested one night while I was in the army for being drunk. I lost several good jobs. I never got into a bar fight because I didn’t usually drink in a bar. I had told myself that I’d never drink like my mom. But, I did. I became a daily drinker – always at night and almost always at home. So I inflicted my alcoholism on my family – the people I said I loved the most. Alcoholism makes us do things we never wanted to do, and feel things we never wanted to feel, and become something we never wanted to become!
At my wife’s urging I tried Alcoholics Anonymous about 4 years before I got sober. But it didn’t last long. For some strange reason, they thought I should quit drinking all together. So I took advanced drinking studies for 4 more years – and did it all in my home in front of my family.
By the time I finally did get sober, I had pretty much lost contact with God and Church. I didn’t like it when people talked about God in Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. Early sobriety was hard. Of course it was! I wouldn’t let God in and was doing it out of anger. But even then, it was better than being drunk. After a few months back in Alcoholics Anonymous, I began to get this “sense” or “feeling” that God wanted me back. Might have been all the spirituality talk at the meetings. I was going to at least one meeting every day. So I asked God to show me a sign.
My sponsor taught me that if I ever have a problem or feel stuck, I should jut open the Big Book and start reading and a answer would come to me. I had tried it and it had worked. I was resistant to trying it with this problem. But one day, I had a Bible next to me and wondered if it would work with the Bible. So I tried it. I opened the Bible and closed my eyes and put my finger down on the page. My fingers were under the words “Seek and you will find.” I felt that God had touched me at that moment and said, “You keep looking, kid. And I’ll show you where to go. That moment changed my life. I believe with all my heart, that God has always shown me where to go from that moment on. God has led me places I never would have dreamed of.
In my professional life, I became a counselor. I was the director of a small halfway house in Wisconsin. I founded a program for recovering women. I became a counselor in a program for priests. So I, who wanted nothing to do with God, became a therapist for His priests and helped them to be sober and to grow spiritually. Unbelievable – but true.
I wish I could say that October 1, 1976 was the last time I made a big mistake. But that wouldn’t be honest. I’ve made quite a few. A friend told me that we’d never be better than human. And it’s so true. When I work the 12 Steps in my life and keep Conscious Contact with my God, things work themselves out and get consistently better.
I have been blessed with many friends and sponsors in my recovery. I’m retired now. Because of some financial mistakes I made while drinking, I never thought I would be able to retire. But my wife and I are comfortable in Arizona where there is wonderful Alcoholics Anonymous and Alanon. It’s beautiful there. I am so blessed.”