I could always relate to the story of the Jaywalker on page 37 of the Big Book. That's because at the age of 13, my friend and I were on our way to the park after visiting Del Taco. We jaywalked at an intersection and were immediately pulled over by the local sheriff. I had a little bit of weed in my pocket so on top of a ticket for jaywalking, I was arrested.
The judge sentenced me to attend a place called IADARP, as well as Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
I will never forget that first meeting. The first thing I was told was that the meeting hall used to be a courthouse and they had hung people from the rafters. Then I met a few of the regulars who told me I had a disease and I was in the right place. That scared me. One guy asked me how old I was. “Thirteen” I said, “I'll be 14 in November”. He said, “I wish I would've gotten it when I was your age”.
I had been stealing beers from my parents garage fridge for a few months before the pot bust, so what I heard and read in AA, I could relate to. Especially page 37.
I would manage to put together a year here, 90 days there, six months here ,etc.Sometimes I would lie so as not to raise my hand in shame at the meeting.
I really believed in the jails,insanity,or death stuff that AA teaches.
When I was in High School, my friends and I would throw outdoor parties for fun and profit. We would pitch in about $400 to buy 10 kegs, rent 2 generators, and 1000 fliers. We would have 2 or 3 bands and usually 2000 people would show up and pay $3 to enter. $6000 wasn't bad for a bunch of high schoolers.
Anyway,I share this with you because it was during those parties that I developed an interest in stage lighting and sound. This became my career. My other career was as a hopeless drunk and member of AA.
I went on to be a stagehand at clubs around the valley, worked at a hotel for awhile, then went to work for a performing arts center as a lighting technician. During the summers, I would travel up and down the state, helping with the grandstand concerts at fairs and festivals.
I would go to meetings in strange towns, proud to raise my hand as a visitor from out of town. I sometimes lied about how much time I had at these type of meetings. Not only did I like being “Mr.Rock and Roll” to these people, I had been in AA so long that I knew how to avoid having to hear oldtimers tell me to “keep coming back”, etc….
The only reason I went was so I wouldn't be at the hotel showing my drinking abilities to my fellow stage techs. The Golden rule in this business is: Be on time, sober. I always knew that when I drank beer, I couldn't stop until it was gone or I passed out. AA taught me that.
I got involved in the Round-ups, conventions, dances, and other events that needed lighting. Since I was “being of service”, I never charged for my labor. I got special discounts from lighting/special effects houses and saved a boatload of money for the mysterious hierarchy of AA.
The years passed, and I started taking traveling jobs(tours). I would arrange to go to meetings in other states by calling the central office, etc. I got burned quite a few times, people never showed up to my hotel.
I never told my group back home, what would the newcomer think? I was propositioned more than once out on the road, once by a dude! I chalked that one up to“some are sicker than others”and again I never told my home group.
I could go on and on with my story. You figure, I was in that mindset for 24 years. I write these words because I spent many days hating myself, thinking I was “one of those unfortunates” who was “constitutionally incapable”, and even though I had worked the steps, I was never “thoroughly honest”. This was because after one of my 5th steps to a “trusted servant” (and I mean I Really spilled my guts to this person), I found out through the grapevine that a lot of people knew my innermost secrets.
In conclusion, I am not powerless. And neither are you. How did you manage to click on this story? The same way you control your hands when bringing a drink to your pie hole. How did I manage to be powerless, but still choose to work with some of the biggest names in music and theatre, instead of drink? The answer is that I was never powerless. Bad choices do not constitute a disease.
How did I finally leave AA? Two reasons.
I attended a funeral for a friend from the program. He died from heart failure, 3 years sober. At the funeral, his family allowed people from the program to get up and say a few words. It was astounding! Like any Friday night speaker meeting (but without the “and I'm an alcoholic”. I get upset just thinking about these people who barely knew my friend, indirectly pitching the program.
Shortly after that, I was sitting in a meeting.
I noticed a teenage kid throw his court card in the basket. After the meeting I asked him how much time he had. He said“17 days without a drink”.
I will never forget what I said to that kid. I said:
“Wow, I wish I would've gotten it when I was your age”.