When I first came into the AA Fellowship I did not know what to expect. I just knew that I had to do something. I was 54 years old and had been drinking for 39 years. My drinking started normally, kegs in High School, weekend parties in College and drinks after work. In my generation drinking at lunch was accepted. I had an old boss of mine tell me if I was going to drink at lunch to drink scotch not vodka. He wanted customers to know I was drunk and not stupid. Drinking was the norm in my business environment. It was the glory years of telecommunications, cellular phones, the internet etc. Every accomplishment or failure we had was celebrated with drinking. I was expected to entertain either customers or out of town visitors with great dinners and booze. When I was out of town, roughly 50% of the time, more dinners and more drinking. And all on expense account. What a great deal! It never dawned on me that I was going down a slippery slope to becoming an alcoholic. I had put myself on a pedestal because I wasn’t doing drugs. I didn’t know that coke helped you drink more until I came into AA. My sponsor told me I just would have been here sooner. I had done well enough that I retired at 48. I had some great plans, get my Master Degree, teach, travel, hunt more and enjoy myself. Those were all things on my “to do” list. All hard to do from a bar stool. I just thought I was a heavy drinker that I would start my great plans tomorrow. Surprise, surprise tomorrow never came. At some point in time I knew I was out of control. I was drinking from when I got up in the morning to when I passed out at night. No matter how hard I tried to stop I couldn’t. I hated myself, every morning I swore I wasn’t going to drink that day but by 10am I was off to the races again.The real eye opener was going on a fishing trip with three lifelong friends. My buddy said he would buy the booze for us for the trip. He called me the day before we left and said I owed him $20.00 for my share of the alcohol. I thought BS that amount wouldn’t cover an entire day for me so I brought my own. I had hit bottom, I was morally, spiritually and emotionally bankrupt. So now what? Luckily my son had been in recovery for five years from heroin.I asked him what I could do and he said “Dad go to an AA meeting with me.”What did I have to lose I thought. Maybe the program would work for me. I asked my son at my first meeting what I was supposed to do. ‘He said sit down and shut the f#$@ up. These people all know how to drink and use. You have absolutely nothing they need or want to hear” As hard as it was I did. The first person that reached his hand out to me was Gentlemen Jim. He said “Son if you follow the principals of AA you’ll never have to drink again.” I thought yea right but what did I have to lose? I had already lost my soul to alcohol.Even though I wasn’t incarcerated I was locked up in alcohol hell. The advice given to me sounded too simple: 1.Go to meetings 90 meetings in 90 days. 2.Get a Sponsor – a. Listen to your Sponsor 3.Work the steps. 4.Change your playgrounds and playmates. 5.Talk to a non-practicing alcoholic every day. It couldn’t be that easy. And it wasn’t. I had to embrace the fellowship and the people in it. I attached myself to the people who were successful. The experts in sobriety. Step one was easy. I knew I was an alcoholic and my life was definitely unmanageable. Step two was a bit tougher, to believe a power greater than myself could restore me to sanity. But Step three was a struggle.“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of god as we understood him.”Even though I was raised in a religious home I didn’t buy off on this organized religion stuff. So now what? My Sponsor explained to me that I could define my own understanding of a Higher Power. I told him I struggled with that. His advice was to pray about it. I did and it was a real struggle to connect. Two things changed that. A dear friend of mine in the program told me to stop praying and start talking to God. Talk to him like he is a friend not an unknown. I call that a Lonny-ism. Another friend had me read the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions. One paragraph really stood out for me in the chapter on the third step. “Practicing step 3 is like the opening of a door which to all appearances is still closed and locked. All we need is a key and the decision to swing the door open. There is only one key and it is called willingness. Once unlocked by willingness, the door opens almost of itself and looking through it, we shall see a pathway beside which is an inscription. It reads: “This is the way to a faith that works” I was making a connection, I had the willingness and the desire to ask God to remove my obsession to drink and help me work the program. Unbeknownest to me because it was happening so gradually I was having a psychic change. Sometime between my 60th and 90th day of sobriety my obsession to drink was gone.Unbelievable!!! Every day God and I have a chat at least in the morning and at night. I thank him for keeping me sober and to remove my obsession to drink and to use. (I never did use but what the hell let’s cover all the bases) I also pray for all the other alcoholics and addicts in and out of AA. If I need it I can talk to God anytime I want, he’s always there to help me through anything.And I do mean anything. I have never experienced anything He and I can’t handle. Regrettably my son that brought me into AA stopped following the principals. He thought he had this disease figured out. He started drinking, smoking pot and it eventually led him back to heroin. He was killed almost four years ago because of this hideous disease. I didn’t drink over his death (it did cross my mind for a second) because I had a solid AA foundation and more people that I can count that put their hand out to me to offer condolences, hugs and cry with me. The AA fellowship was my rock in the worst moment in my life. God bless those people that helped me through his death. I learned there is nothing you will ever go through in life that someone in AA hasn’t experienced and survived. One thing I know is that as an alcoholic or an addict we have three options: 1.Get and stay clean. 2.Be incarcerated. 3.Die. The only way I can repay the people that helped me is to help someone else. Oh that’s right, that’s step 12. Thank you for letting me share.