More – H.Le_Jan 2018

In my early experience in AA I heard the expression, “My favorite drink was MORE.” I knew in that moment my problem was not alcohol, it was life. Whatever made me feel good, I wanted more of it. Before my first taste of alcohol it was food. But alcohol was a bit different. Oh, don’t get me wrong. A good pie or candy bar would soothe me alright but once I tasted hard liquor, that warm glow and feeling of comfort was unique. My father walked out on my mother, sister, and me when I was 3 years old. That started a longing in my gut that would last a life time. I wasted many hours wishing to be with him, but as I have found out, God has a plan and I don’t necessarily know all the details. By the time I was 9 years old I had become such a discipline problem for my single mother to deal with, the county child services department forced her to send me to live with my father in the country. I guess they thought I would cause less trouble for the community if I was out in the less populated rural farmland. The move was both good and bad. It did curb my juvenile delinquency but it exposed me to the adult world of alcohol. My dad was a drinker, and I still remember the night he and my step mother were having a party. I lived in the basement and as the night progressed I sneaked upstairs and watched all the fun they were having through a crack in the door. With no one watching the kitchen with all the supplies, I slipped in and grabbed a mostly empty bottle of Wild Turkey Kentucky Bourbon off the counter and headed back to my room in the basement. I was 10 years old. I stared at the bottle for the longest time because it was so beautiful, with a picture of a turkey on the label. What happened next can only be described as an awakening of the grand paradox. I took a drink and its taste was the most awful thing that burned my mouth and throat. Yet it began a tingling in my soul that finally made that pit in my stomach go away. I now knew what all the hubbub was about for alcohol. For the next 8 years I drank everything I could get my hands on as fast as I could drink it, which wasn’t all that often since I lived in a predominant Mormon culture, yet often enough to establish a pattern of alcohol abuse. At 18 years old, I enlisted in the Marine Corps. Now my fun with drinking turned into fun plus trouble. As a marine, I was expected to drink with restraint but I had no ability to do that. Many times, I awoke to find myself in trouble from what I had done the night before. Back from Viet Nam in 1968 I had no life skills and now as a civilian it didn’t take long to cross over from fun plus trouble to just plain trouble when I drank. I still drank like I had to sneak it and drink it as fast as I could. That had never changed. I never took a social drink in my life. As a matter of fact, I hadn’t even heard of social drinking until I came into Alcoholics Anonymous. I had my last alcoholic binge 21 November 1975. I was still trying to find that drink that actually tasted good. I saw an advertisement in a magazine for Hennessy Cognac that looked so appealing I thought I would try it. It still tasted like what I thought battery acid must taste like, however it didn’t stop me from consuming the whole bottle. I was sick the next day but my neighbor stopped by and invited me to come back to church. I had one of those “Come to Jesus” moments and I went. For the next 4 years I was a devout member of a church but I was hurting inside like never before. I had gained 100 lbs. and was failing in all aspects of my life. Suicide was a fairly dominate thought. A friend 12 stepped me into the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. Food was kicking my ass and I didn’t know why. I had lost weight before but for some reason no diet could relieve the sense of doom I felt in my chest. My first AA meeting was a breath of fresh air. Well actually it wasn’t fresh air at all. I couldn’t see across the room because of the cigarette smoke. But the feeling of belonging was instantaneous and I began to learn. The concept of more finally hit home when I realized that feeling good using more and more was not helping, no matter what more was. It took a while for me to actually admit to being an alcoholic because I only came in to stop binging on recreational food. When I got to the part in the big book that refers to alcohol as not being the problem I was surprised that I related so strongly. I had to get down to the causes and conditions of my malady. After 6 years of being sober (2 years in program) I finally did my 4th and 5th steps. I had to actually be tricked into doing them by my sponsor. We met one afternoon to do some chatting about my day and he said out of the blue, “It’s time you did your 4th and 5th step.” He took a lined piece of paper out of a spiral notebook and a pen and said, “Now write your inventory down and hurry up because I have things to do.” He said it in such a matter of fact way that my defense mechanism was unavailable. I wrote what I thought was a lengthy moral inventory in all of 10 minutes. I then read it to him and we tore up the paper together. What a relief. I had finally crossed over to the other side of the 4th and 5th step. The world didn’t collapse around me and I felt a burden lift from my chest. To this day that hole in my soul I suffered with all those years has never returned. I still feel the pains of getting it wrong. It hurts when life gives me problems. It hurts when I do stupid things. But I now know that I don’t have to run from these problems with alcohol or recreational food. I can’t make the feelings go away but I do know that God can and will if I seek him by placing my ass in a chair in an AA meeting. Every time I do, I feel God’s influence in my life. God works on me through other people. I have come to rely on people physically close enough to me so that I can interact with them. I believe God has placed them close to me to be able to learn something. It relieves me of the need to judge others, and It focuses my attention on things I don’t want to go to the grave feeling like a victim. Alcoholics Anonymous has taught me how to stand up for myself. I already knew how to run from uncomfortable events and people. The 9th step promises have taught me to rely on my instincts. “…you will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle you.” I have learned to walk away from situations instead of engaging in actions that result in resentments. The bonus is that I have learned to stand my ground in situations where I need to act strongly. I owe that to myself. I had to be taught how to not run. Interesting lessons for a former combat US Marine. Now the MORE I seek is to more fully understand God’s will for me today. It’s a challenge most of the time but if I begin my daily journey with an AA meeting my chances of getting it right today just increased. May your heart be comforted. Semper Fi -H. Le

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