Today’s Hole News comes from Toivo’s Front Porch Musings, George Nordling’s occasional blog. Though it violates our short-post rule, the message merits the infraction. George’s book, Walking to the Light, tells the full story. Respond to this post with your address and I’ll send you a copy.
My 25th A.A Anniversary
I am an alcoholic. I haven’t taken a drink in a long time. (My sobriety began on Oct. 1, 1989, the day I tearfully left the rehabilitation center at Memorial Hospital in Ashland, Wisconsin.) I was also full of trepidation for the future, rooted in lectures by counselors, “After five years only one in five will still be sober. Alcoholism is a disease characterized by relapses.”
I arrived at the aforementioned facility, in a state of tremors and a mental blackout. I remember the tremors, holding a Styrofoam cup (filled with coffee only halfway) with both hands. I was brought there directly from Grand View Hospital by my wife, Lois who had saved me from swallowing my tongue and by a dear friend, Judy Schulze.
My brain began to operate beyond the reptilian level the next day and I was astonished at my surroundings. The windows were reinforced and the place was spotless. I had no idea how I had arrived or where I was. The nurse came in to monitor my hand tremors, take my temperature and blood pressure and watch me wash down several pills with a glass of water. “Relax, George. No one is going to harm you,” the nurse said in a soothing voice. I had heard the term, ‘detox’ and thought this must be where I was.
Boredom set in and I had a book about the Twelve Steps of A.A. I had read it and it was boring at the time. It would come alive later as I progressed in recovery. At the end of the book were several blank pages. I was thinking about an algorithm to get me out of this mess. The whole universe is defined by mathematics and the solution was there! I just had to solve it. I went to the desk and asked for a pen. I wrote what I thought to be profound mathematical discoveries revealing the process of becoming sober. I would come to dismiss these great discoveries as delusional scribbling.
After being released from detox and integrated with the 17 other treatment patients my thought processes began to clarify. I no longer dismissed the treatment program as a foolish waste of time. God had removed the hostility and fear that had held me hostage. One day I came to the realization that the awful, grinding craving for booze had left me. Was this possible? Other patients confessed that they still had cravings. I declared that the cravings had left me, bringing a sharp rebuke from one of the counselors. I yielded to this counselor but I knew that the cravings were gone.
Before the dawn of my recovery I could not go without a drink of vodka for more than about two hours. That meant taking drinks during the night to ward off the poison dreams that would have me sit up screaming. It also meant that I would need several hearty swigs from a pint bottle when my legs failed to work. I couldn’t move them. I would crawl to my stash of booze and with shaking hands put the bottle to my lips. In a few minutes I could walk again. It also meant furtive trips to the liquor store, driving while I was drunk.
I told a doctor that I had been the recipient of a miracle and the doctor dismissed this, saying, “The alcohol must have burned out the brain cells that caused your addiction.” This postulate that I had cured myself by drinking was laughable, I thought, but out of respect I did not argue with the doctor.
On October 1, 2014 twenty-five years will have passed since the dawn of my recovery. I have not had a craving for a drink in all that time. I still attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, which help me to remember that I am still an alcoholic and will be until they shovel dirt on my coffin. The meetings also help me remember the power of alcoholic craving, the hopelessness that I felt, and the welcoming spirit and acceptance of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Psalms 18:17-20 came to be my favorite Scripture, “He delivered my from my strong enemy, from those who hated me, for they were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the Lord was my support. He also brought me out into a broad space.” Verse 20 is the amazing part, because I had thought the Lord was through with me, a quivering booze hound who passed himself off as a born-again Christian. “He delivered me because He delighted in me.” My twenty-five years of sobriety have been ‘God stuff.’
Thanks, brother George
Old Grandpa Lloyd