Tag Archives: power of choice

Charlie Y., Savannah, GA

Just heard a wonderful story from Charlie Y. of Savannah, Georgia full of colloquialism, flashbacks, and dialogue.

He has been sober for 18 years.  He told about the day he “quit drinking” and how that lasted about a month…then how he “quit for good” and that lasted a few weeks…and then how he “quit for real”…  Eventually he was crawling around in a 9 x 7 jail cell floor and it occurred to him that he couldn’t quit drinking.

When he got out of jail, his wife took him to a mental institution where it sounded like they pumped him full of Thorazine.

He told us of his early childhood – how mom left him – and his days in Vietnam – by describing how he answered the questions of the counselor who wanted to discuss his “issues.”  But every time he told the counselor his issue was that he couldn’t quit drinking, the counselor tried to direct him back to the symptoms of his problem – not the real problem – which was, of course, he couldn’t quit drinking.

At a certain point in the drinking of every alcoholic, he passes into a state where the most powerful desire to stop drinking is of absolutely no avail.  This tragic situation has already arrived in practically every case long before it is suspected.

The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet obscure, have lost the power of choice in drink.  Our so-called will power becomes practically nonexistent.  We are unable, at certain times, to bring into our consciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago.  We are without defense against the first drink.

Luckily, he was given the opportunity to go to an AA meeting and there he met a man who understood his problem and said, “That’s my problem too!”  He went to two more meetings, got a sponsor, and got a job making coffee that same day.  He was told to say, “It’s good to see you,” to every person who walked through the door.

He took us through his journey through the steps and continued to stress how “Just don’t drink and go to meetings” is enough to kill an alcoholic “like Charlie.”  That might work for the heavy drinker or the person who hasn’t yet lost the choice, but it won’t work for the alcoholic “like Charlie.”  We have to work the steps to develop a relationship with a power greater than us that will one day be the only thing that stands between us and a drink.

Charlie had us all laughing until he told us about the day that relationship he had developed with his creator through working the steps was the only thing that stood between him and a drink.  It was the day his son died – you could say of alcoholism – when his son rolled his jeep over.  At this, the girls around me passed around tissues.  The amazing part of that story was the way his sponsor and grand-sponsor supported him through it.

Eighteen years later, if you go to his group in Savannah on Mondays or Thursday nights, you’ll find Charlie there, making coffee, and he will say, “It’s good to see you.”