AA: The Early Years
Welcome back my friends to the big book podcast. My name is Howard and I'm an alcoholic sober since nineteen eight day at a time in this double story episode the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Stories from the personal stories section of the first edition of alcoholics anonymous published in nineteen thirty nine the seventeenth stories entitled the. Fearful one and the eighteenth is entitled. Truth freed me. These two short stories appeared only in the first edition of the big book. So this may be the first time you hear them both stories paint an extraordinary picture of a in the first few years after bill. W and Dr. Bob. Met well before the big book was written. They recount the critical role of early. A A members who carried the message of recovery to still suffering alcoholics who wanted to get sober and now the original story the fearful one followed immediately by truth freed me the fearful one. When I was twenty one I was taken suddenly. And violently ill and was ill for seven years. As a result of this illness I was left with a porsche nervous system. And a curious phobia as this has a large place in my story. I will try to explain it clearly. After I had been ill for some months I grew strong enough to GET OUT OF DOORS. A little each day but found. I couldn't get farther than the nearest corner. Without becoming totally panic stricken. As soon as I turned back home the panic would vanish. I gradually overcame this particular phase of the trouble by setting myself longer distances to walk each day similarly. I LEARNED LATER TO TAKE SHORT STREETCAR. Rides than longer ones and so forth until I appeared to be doing most of the things other people do daily but the things I did not have to do each day or at least frequently remained unconquered and a source of great but secret embarrassment to me so I went on for years planning always to sidestep the things. I was afraid of but concealing my fear from everyone. Those years of illness were not all total invalid ISM. I made a good living part of the time but was continually falling down and having to get up and start over again. The whole process gave me a licht feeling especially when toward the end of my twenties I had to give up the presidency of a small company which was just turning the corner to real success shortly after this I was successfully operated on and became a physically well man but the surgeon did not remove the phobia that remained with me during the period of my illness. I was not especially interested in liquor. I was not a teetotaler but I was just a social drinker. However when I was about thirty my mother died I went to pieces as I had become very dependent on my parents through my illness when I began to get on my feet again I discovered that whisky was a fine pain. Relief from terrific nervous headaches I had developed long after the headaches were gone however I kept discovering other difficulties for which Whiskey was a grand cure during the ensuing. Ten years I once by sheer willpower remained drive for five weeks. I had many business opportunities during those ten years which although I tried to keep them in. My grasp slipped through my fingers a lovely wife came and went. She tried her best. And our baby's birth put me on my medal for all of six months but after that worse and more of it when my wife took the baby and left. Did I square my shoulders? And go to work to prove to her and to the world that I was a man I did not. I stayed drunk for a solid month. The next two years were simply drawn out process of less and less work and more and more liquor. They ended eventually at the home of a very dear friend whose family were out of town. I had been politely but firmly kicked out of the house where I had been boarding and although I seem to be able to find money to buy drinks with. I couldn't find enough to pay advance room rent anywhere one night. Sure my number was up. I chucked my pride and told this friend a good deal of my situation. He was a man of considerable means and he might have done what many men would have done in such a case. He might've handed me fifty dollars and said that I ought to pull myself together and make a new start. I have thank God more than once that that was just what he did not do instead. He took me out bought me three more drinks. Put me to bed and yanked me. Bodley out of town. The next noon to city two hundred miles away and into the arms of one of the most extraordinary bunch of men in the United States here while in the hospital men with clear is and happy faces came to see me and told me the story of their lives. Some of them were hard to believe. But it didn't take a lot of brain work to see. They had something I could use and it was so simple. The sum and substance of it seemed to be that if I would turn to God. It was very probable that he could do a better job with my life than I had. When I got out of the hospital I was invited to stay in the home of one of these fellows. Here I found myself suddenly and uncontrollably seized with the old panic I was in a strange house in a strange city and fear gripped me. I shut myself in my room. I couldn't sit down. I couldn't stand up. I couldn't lie down. Couldn't Lee because I had nowhere to go and no money to take me any attempt at reasoning accomplish nothing suddenly in this Mellstrom. I grasped at a Straw. Maybe God would help me. Just maybe mind you. I was willing to give him a chance but with considerable doubt. I got down on my knees. Something I hadn't done in thirty years. I asked him if he would let me hand over. All these fears and panic to him. I lay down on the bed and went to sleep like a baby an hour later. I awoke to a new world. I could scarcely credit my senses but that terrible phobia which had wrecked my life for eighteen years was gone utterly gone and in its place was a power and fearlessness which is a bit hard to get accustomed to all that happened nearly six months ago in those six months. A new life has opened before me. It isn't that I have been cured of an ordinarily incurable disease. I have found joy in living. That has nothing to do with money or material success. I know that incomparable happiness. That comes from helping some other fellows get straightened out. Don't get me wrong. We are not a bunch of angels. None of us has any notion of becoming such but we know that we can never go completely back to the old ways because we are traveling upward through service to others and in trying to be honest decent and loving toward the world instead of slipping and sliding around in a life of drinking cheating lying and doing what we like truth freed me in. May Nineteen Thirty. Six after a prolonged period of alcoholism. My friends my associates my superiors and those people who really loved me in spite of embarrassments. Too many to mention finally left me because they had come to the conclusion that I didn't have any idea of doing or trying to do the right thing I was a spineless individual who didn't care a rap for anyone or anything I was hopeless and knew it and then in my extremity the divine comforter truth came to me in a bar room where I had spent the major portion of six weeks the divine comforter in my experience came in the guise of a former drinking companion whom I had assisted home on several occasions because of physical infirmities brought about by alcoholic excess. He had been unable to walk a distance of three blocks to his home unassisted. When I last saw him now he approached me and to my amazement he was sober and appeared greatly improved in physical condition. He induced me to take a ride with him. And as we rode along. Told me of the marvellous thing that had come into his life. He had more than a practical idea of my difficulties. He also had a logical and practical idea as to how they might be overcome.