My name is Jack Games. I am a former AA member.
I went to my first AA meeting in January 1995. I don’t remember the last meeting that I went to. It was in the late winter or early spring of 2012. In April 2012 I moved from Philadelphia Pennsylvania to New Orleans Louisiana. I know that I have not been to an AA meeting in New Orleans
The event that catapulted me into AA was the death of my son, Michael, in October 1994. Late in 1994 I started seeing a therapist. I was told that I was going for help with my ‘grief’ issues. The therapist was a recovering alcoholic and a member of AA. It did not take long for the direction of my therapy to change from grief issues to my abuse of alcohol. It was recommended that I attend AA.
So on a Saturday in January 1995 I went to a meeting. On my own. I simply picked a nearby noon meeting and walked in. I remember that first meeting. It was strangely compelling. I knew that I had problems. I knew I drank too much. I knew I was lonely and hurt. There were people there and they welcomed me. Was I an alcoholic? I didn’t know. I didn’t know what an alcoholic was. I got a sponsor pretty quickly and went to a few meetings with him. I dibbled and dabbled in the program for about the next 4 years. Sometimes in, sometimes out. I was not allowed to drink at home. I continued with various therapists, a couple of psychiatric admissions, and attempts to hide my occasional drinking.
In the summer of 1999 I separated from my wife and we were finally divorced in 2001.. I moved to a horrid little apartment in Bridgeport Pennsylvania. From 1999 through 2003 I drank. I didn’t really do anything except work and drink. Weekends were a blur. I drank heavy from Friday afternoon until the wee hours of Monday morning and then went to work. Maintenance drinking during the week was a 12 pack every night. It became a 12 pack every night and then a couple more beers and or shots in the morning to get my hands to stop shaking so that I could get to work only an hour or so late.
In the winter of 2003 I was really starting to lose it. Panic attacks were coming frequently. I Was in a perpetual cycle of withdrawal symptoms and finally, later in the day, some relief when I could really drink.
On Sunday November 2, 2003 I walked into the 6pm meeting at the Flourtown Center in Flourtown Pennsylvania. Something had to change. I never forgot about AA during my 4 years away so I went back. I got a sponsor, I did a short stint in rehab, I did a 90 in 90. I got a home group. I made friends.
I got into service. I was the coffee guy for a beginner’s meeting. I became the annual co-chair. I became the annual chair. I got involved in intergroup as the treatment facilities coordinator for Montgomery County PA. I became the Zone Coordinator for Montgomery County PA. I was on the steering committee at Philadelphia Intergroup. I chaired meetings, took commitments, hosted a weekly meeting at a rehab, was a volunteer van driver at a local rehab facility, and started a new meeting.
I did the steps twice in a men’s AWOL group and also worked on them with my sponsor one on one. I sponsored a few guys myself. I know what to say in a meeting and when to say it. I can speak AA. I have read most of the AA-approved literature. I can front AA pretty well. I just don’t believe in it.
That was how things continued for about 6 years. Was I sober? Was I happy, joyous, and free? Well I didn’t drink. I was unhappy. I liked everything about AA except for the 12 steps and the meetings. I didn’t believe that I had a disease and I was certainly not powerless. The meetings were boring affairs with the same people either mouthing the same platitudes or the same complaints. I liked shooting the shit in the parking lot before and after the meetings with a couple of the guys and that was about it.
I came into AA as an agnostic and through the help of the rooms became an atheist. I didn’t much care for the god who cared about drunks and not about children with cancer or children who were starving. I read and thought and became very comfortable with the idea that there simply was no god.
I don’t think I made it to 7 years without a drink. I drank. I drifted away. I drifted back in. I got a new sponsor and made some new friends. But I never really made it back. I just could not buy into the program anymore. But I hung around a few years mostly because I liked a few of the people and enjoyed seeing them. The program to me was complete horseshit.
Eventually, as I said, I moved to New Orleans Louisiana and started a new life here. I am happy. Do I sometimes struggle with a drink? Yes. But I am getting better. I am free. I can make choices and they are my choices. Neither a disease nor a god has anything to do with them. They are my choices and I own them, both the good and the bad.
My best thinking did not get me into AA. My worst thinking got me into AA. My best thinking is that I am a capable and responsible adult who can control his own behavior and do something positive for himself and those whom I care about.
I took the 14th step into the clear light of reason and that is how I choose to live today.