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Maxiblue : I'm an alcoholic and my problem is Chuck. It's good to be here and it's good to be sober. I have not had a drink today and the miracle is that I didn't want one.Thank you for the birthday wishes.

    Let's get started. My name is Chuck and I live in southern calif. I have got to know many of you in this room to those I don't know welcome. At the moment I am full of fear. FEAR. To get over the fear I have to talk about fear.

    I have 4 definitions of fear.

1. Future emergency already realized

2. False evidence appearing real

3. My daughters definition of fear in fuck everything and run. lol

4. My favorite is Face Everything And Recover.

  I am not going to worry about typos. I will just do the best I can. I can't possibly tell you about all that has happened in 17 years,but if I can I will try to give you all a message of hope. Traditions say that I should share what it was like, what happened, and what it is like today.

    I move those around a bit.b I like to share what it was like, then how it is today. Then how I got from point a to b, so here goes:

    I believe that if a person was to drive a stake into the ground  and then walk a distance from that stake they can tell how far they have come. Many people in AA use their sobriety date as a stake in the ground.

    My stake in the ground actually is two years before I got sober. It was a November evening about 11 at night. I was sitting on a park bench and looking up at the sky. I was trying to make up my mind "do I want to kill myself" or do I want to go on living. At that moment in the evening my young 16 year old daughter rode up on her bike and found my on that bench.

     She says to me "Dad, will you please come home, Mom and I are worried about you." I got up off that bench to follow this young girl I loved. As i did so, a gun fell out of my pocket and on to the ground. The look of hurt and disbelief in Tami's face showed me that I had given my daughter one more scar to carry the rest of her life.

   So i know what it is like to be a failure as a father. I follow Tami home to a house where I had destroyed the love and trust of a 20 year marriage. So I know what it is like to be a failure as a husband. I know what it is like to be a failure in all areas of my life. To feel like an absolute zero.

    Not know why I was born or why I should keep living. Now feeling like that I continued to drink for the next two years. That is my description of incomprehensible demoralization. God, I can spell oh well.

    How it is today. 13 months after I got sober, My wife, my daughter and I were walking home from a movie. It was a beautiful spring day and we were laughing and holding hands. As we walked home, we walked by that park bench. We all stopped and looked at that bench.

   The bench had not changed. The surroundings around that park bench had not changed. But that whole entire family had changed. When I got home I was in tears of graditude.I called my sponsor because he would understand.

    So what I would like to share with you this evening is what happened between that bench the first time and the bench the second time. By the way, I mentioned the stake in the ground. If I'm having a rough day, I just look at where I came from That's all I need.

   I had met a guy at work who everyone said was an alcoholic. He sat next to me and he seemed like a real nice guy. But I heard the office gossip about him, That he would come in all beat up or disappear at lunch and not come back. Yet when I knew him, he was a responsible employee. So as you can guess my drinking was getting worse I went up to this man and said. "Howard, how does it feel to be an ex alcoholic?" to which he replied, Chuck I am an alcoholic, I just choose not to drink.

   Well....I had never met an alcoholic before. So about a year goes by and I am getting drunk every nite. I go back to Howard and said. "Howard, how did you quit drinking?" Howard replied, "Chuck, I gave my drinking problem to God and I gave my living problems to God, I am only responsible for the first drink and I am only responsible one day at a time."

    I didn't understand what he was saying. I went back to him about 3 months before I got sober and for the first time mentioned I might have a problem. He told me he would bring in the Big Book if I would like to read it. He did, and to this day I believe I read it. I say that because when I said I would do something generally i did.

   The reason I can't be sure, is I was drinking while I read it. April 19th 1984 rolls around. At 10:30 in the morning I am in the middle of a business meeting. I was only there to answer questions on a computer system I worked with. No one was asking questions and my committee in my head was talking to me. I had four thoughts go through my mind that morning. There were: 

If I continued to drink the way I drank I would lose the wife.

If I continued to drink the way I drink she would divorce me and take me for all that I had worked for.

If I continued to drink the way i drank I would lose that job.

   I some how knew the job would be last to go&lt for it supported my drinking. The 4th thought that went through my head that morning was..... If I continued to drink the way I drank, I would die. Right behind that thought I had 4 fresh new thoughts.

   1. I didn't care about the wife any more.

   2. i didn't care about the material things anymore.

  3. I didn't care about the job anymore.

  4. I just did not want to die.

    Not like an alcoholic dies. Slow and alone. I got up and walked out of the meeting and went looking for my friend Howard. My HP my God, has a sick sense of humor on his good days. I walked back to the bull pen where I worked with 50 others. I was about to come apart at the seams. I was shaking so bad I couldn't get in my car and drive. I get back to my desk and Howard had taken a days vacation. I was going to put on a scene at any moment. I was going to break down and start crying in front of everyone as a last resort, I turned to the lady that sat to my right for about 3 years and told what was happening to me.

   For those of you that don't believe in miracles. That lady I poured my heart out too, was 14 years in alanon. She got me to talking and got me some coffee. She got on the phone and called Howard at home. The love of this program showed from the start. In 10 minutes Howard was back over to the plant and put me in the passenger seat of my own car.

    Now I put my self into a recovery unit because I knew that AA would not work for me. I had been to two meetings of AA and did not stay sober between the meetings. Now I will have to admit that the two meetings were 4 years apart. lol. So I went to a recovery unit. I remember after detox that Howard came down to visit me.

   I knew that some where in recovery, that God had to play a part. But I didn't have a God.  And If there was one I would be afraid of him. I told Howard,  "I can't find God" To which Howard replied, Quit looking God ain't lost. He went on to say that maybe if I quit looking, God would find me. So I just said the most profound prayer of my sobriety. "God please help me."

   I don't remember steps 1,2, and 3. I was in to much of a fog. I knew I had to get a sponsor to do steps 4 and 5 I knew what that was about, So this recovery unit was busing us patients to AA meetings everyday and two on Sundays. I had to find someone I could relate too. Now this is how sick I was at 15 days sober. I saw a guy show up at a speaker meeting wearing a 3 piece suit. I could relate to a 3 piece suit. So I asked him and he accepted.

  Now this guy doesn't know me from anyone. So I tell him, wouldn't you like to get together so you can get to know me? He said, no he already knew me. Today, I understand what he was saying. I was an alcoholic and therefore he already knew me. For those of you that are new to the program I will tell you a way for taking the fear out of Fearless moral inventory.

   I was handed two pieces of paper for doing my 4th step. One had Guilt at the top and the other Had resentment at the top. It had 3 columns like in the BB. I was told that Guilt was the thing I had done to others. And resentments were what I thought others had done to me. So I was trying to figure out what I was going to put on paper and share with another human being.

  Well somethings in my Life were Big Deals and I wasn't sure I wanted to share these  things Like:  I wet the bed until I was 18 years old,  I wasn't sure i wanted to share about that. And small things Like: I stole money out of my Mom's purse, put what the heck, every kid does that why would I want to share that?

  Then I had a thought. It is a saying we have in programming. In programming we say "Garbage in,,,,Garbage out." With that thought I decided that if it entered my head it was going on paper. No fear at all.  Just if it entered my head it went on paper. When the 5th step was done I almost floated out of the room.

   When i got out of the unit and back to work I celebrated 30 days with out a drink. I will tell you now I will remember my 30 day chip better than my 17 year chip. They say there are no big deals in AA. Well for a daily drunk to go 30 days with out a drink was a big deal to me. The unit told me that if I wanted to stay sober to go to meetings. To get my self into the center of AA and not move. They told me to go to 90 meetings in 90 days.

   I was so desperate that I did exactly that. One meeting and day and two on Sunday for 90 days. Now i had made a few friends and some of them figured out That if you went to 3 meetings a day that in 30 days they would have their 90 in. well after 30 days they went out and drank. me, i just plugged along going to my meeting a day and calling my sponsor every day. God in his wisdom, made my marriage so bad that at the end of 90 and 90 I continued to go to a meeting every day for a year.

  I would rather be in a meeting with you all then at home with "Her" I knew that the happy people in AA worked the steps. So I sat down in my living room, like a good college student, and read step 6 out of the 12 and 12. I hit that first paragraph and hit a brick wall. This is the step that separates the men from the boys. I was 46 and didn't know how to be a man.

  I sat down on 3 separate occasions during the first 9 months on the program and could not work step 6. The only thing that saved me was going to a meeting every day and not drinking between meeting. My sponsor told me I was so dry I was a fire hazard. At 5 1/2 months on the program my sponsor told me to find another sponsor. He did this with love. He told me that he would still be my sponsor until I found another He told me to find someone a bit older and who had been married before.

    You see, that guy in the 3 piece suit was 10 years younger than me and had never been married. He simply could not relate to some of my living problems. I went shopping for a new sponsor like a used car sales man. I would listen to guys talk I would go back to the meeting and sit next to them and never say a word.

  I was looking for someone who walked like they talked. I asked a Charlie St Drunk to be my sponsor. Now Charlie St is a half way house where they pick up drunks off the street and dump them My sponsor was a "real" alcoholic He use to live in a deserted auto in an alley way behind a bar. He use to think he was in charge of his life because he was renting out the back seat.

   I asked my sponsor, one time, If he thought I was a high bottom drunk? He asked me a question that I have yet to answer. he said, "Chuck, what is worse, going out and living in a gutter or going out and getting a gutter and running right down the middle of a nice living room. And then trying to drag your love one's into to the gutter with you.

  I had me a sponsor! I mean this guy was as tough as nails and the most loving man I have ever met. I had Jack for 11 1/2 years until he died. To back track for a moment. On my 57th day of sobriety I went to an AA dance. I was walking across the parking lot to the dance when my now, 18 year old daughter comes bouncing out of the dance. She walks up to me and says...Guess what Dad&lt; I'm an alcoholic and a drug addict.

   I am sorry to say that I didn't even know my daughter had a problem. That was the 15th of June 1984 and my daughter was loaded when she told me. On June 16th of this year that little girl of my (now 35) will celebrate 17 years clean and sober. Back to my story.

  I went to meetings and I didn't know how to change. I wanted to change I wanted to do the step I was going nuts and just not drinking.&lt Finally at 9 months sober the miracle happened. One day at work the committee in my head was killing me.

  The marriage was still a mess I just could not go on living the way I was living. I hit a bottom just as hard and as painful as the 19th of april. But I had a few things going for me that I didn't realize. I knew how to use the phone. I called my sponsor.

  I told you my HP has a sick sense of humor on his best days. My sponsor was not at work or at home But I had a couple of friends at work and I called them But they were to busy, but if I could wait until noon they would be there for me. Well, if you are an alkie like me and you want help, you want it right now.

   So I remembered what the recovery unit had said. If all else fails come down here and sit on your hands. So at 9 in the morning, one more time I walked off the job and drove the 25 miles to the hospital. During the drive (and this is important to me) I was thinking of suicide. I thought i could get the car up to about 140 MPH, hit a bridge embankment I would be killed instantly The wife would no longer have to put up with me

   She would be out of the pain, I would be out of the pain Then my keen alcoholic mind says to me, "You driving a real nice automobile and you really don't want to hurt it."lol. So I ended up in the hospital They somehow got a hold of my sponsor They put my on line with him and Jack says... "Chuck i will be down at that hospital at 3:30 and your ass better be there."

  I stayed in the hospital for the next 6 hours out of fear of sponsor. I mean I was worried about physical harm Jack showed up at 3:30 And My life changed! My life changed so much that it was like becoming someone different. So what change my life that day?

  My sponsor and I went back into a little room and we had a talk. To this day, and I have thought about it many time, I do no remember a thing that was said in that room Not a word. yet something happened in that room This is what happened. I looked across the table at this man with the salt and pepper beard The man with thick glasses and deep gravely voice.

  For some reason I knew that this man loved me. Beyond a shadow of doubt I knew that he loved me. It was the first time in my life that I "allowed" some one to love me. Because i was unloveable. This man wanted nothing "from" me He only wanted something "for" me. Two days later in the middle of an AA meeting something occurred to me.

That day, the drive down the freeway, I wanted to die. It never entered my mine to drink.That was the miracle. I came into AA to learn how not to drink. I never even thought of it. I got excited.  I had program. Everyone else had a program and I just discovered I had a program. Things in my life started to change They started to change fast.

   I sometimes call them spiritual experiences some times i call them attitude changed. The first occurred 2 weeks after that day i wanted to die. I was driving home from a beginners meeting and I had a thought go through my mind. Tomorrow is none of my business, Tomorrow belongs to God." I just gave my tomorrows to God.

   You know how much freedom there is when I no longer worry about tomorrow. I still have that today, most of the time. two weeks later, I'm coming home from that same beginners meeting I have a thought go through my mind. I can't fix my marriage, it is either going to work or it not going to work and it's God business not mine.

I gave my marriage to God. I had no idea that what i was doing was the 3rd step I knew she was going to divorce me, but I didn't worry about it anymore. And (this is important) I started to do something that my sponsor told me to do. He said,  "Chuck you contribute to that marriage so that if it should end, That you can walk away with the least amount of guilt and the least amount of resentment.

  Guilt and resentment will get you drunk." So I start to"contribute" to my marriage, not to save it, but so I wouldn't get drunk. Well as most of you know, at 11 1/2 months on the program that marriage of mine turned 180 degrees. I mean that on Wednesday it wasn't working and on Thursday it was. I remember at 6 months sober I asked my wife what she would like for our 20th annivesary She said to me, "Why would you want to celebrate a failure." one year later I got a anniversary card from her. The first one in 5 years.

   On Oct 10th 1989 that lady that I am married to, wanted to get new wedding rings. We did that. We went on a cruise and renewed our wedding vows For those of you that don't believe in miracles,.... On that very day that we renewed our vows, I celebrated 2000 days even with out a drink. Last October we celebrated 36 years of marriage.

    To tell you the power of God and the 12 step program every time I think my marriage can't get better it gets better. So I want to go back to 13 months on the program and wind this talk up. I was 13 months sober and sitting in my living room when I had one of those thoughts. I realized that I had an incurable disease.  Alcoholism Incureable

  I don't like that word 'incurrable' I got mad at God. I proceeded to tell God exactly what I thought of him. I mean I was angry. Then all of a sudden right in the middle of this out burst. I got to laughing. You see, 13 months earlier I didn't have a God to get mad at. I knew i had a God of my very own. I didn't look for him and he found me.

   Today I am 63 years old and retired. I live in a retirement community and enjoy the life I lead. I still go to 5-6 meetings a week. I still work with others. I came into this room about 3 months ago and fell in love with the people here. The 12 step program works in my life just wonderfully.

I will close with a couple of remarks. I have placed my email address in my profile for just today. If you have any questions or want a more in detail account of something I shared, write me. I would love hearing from you.

   Now i will close by telling a story. I was  in a meeting of AA with about 5 months of sobriety when I heard a man share That if he was to make a list of everything he wanted in sobriety he would sell himself short. Now I am the type of guy that loves a challenge. So I sat down and made a list of everything I would like to find in sobriety. I know this guy was lying and i was going to prove it by being very intellual about it. Here is what i wrote.

   What I'm looking forward to in sobriety I would like: To share a poem or a picture To share a sunrise or a sunset to share the warmth of the day to share the cool of an evening to hold the hand of someone in need to help carry the load of others To believe in God and not ask why To accept the beauty of nature to give away, what I have found To write my story to laugh to sing to feel good to walk beside, not ahead of or behind to build something and have it look nice to understand that today is okay to be honest with myself and others to learn not to fear to walk in the woods and kick leaves to listen to a brook or wind in the trees. to go to a concert or a play to work in the yard and watch it grow to remember where I came from to remember where I'm at to live live to the fullest, for I only have today.

That man was right, I sold myself short. There is no where on that list i asked for a little self respect today I have that. No where on that list did I ask for a marriage to be put back together Today I have that But most of all there was no where on that list that I asked for the lonliness to be removed from my life It's been a long long time since I felt lonely. I can be by myself and I am not alone. Where ever I am, God is.

I got all this by going to meetings by 'appllying the steps into my life. by not drinking one day at a time. I love you all.  thanks for being part of my life.
Chuck H.
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