I had faith, I had belief at one time I could speak Latin, Greek, Spanish and English, yet I was still drunk. My problem was there was just no hope. I had faith and belief, but no hope at all. I want to talk about this for a little bit and maybe explain it to you, and I think some of you will understand. See here’s my deal. I am a unique and I am special. I am different, and I know the program can work for you, because you all are simple people. But the rules that apply to you, don’t apply to me. Now this is called despair. That’s what it is called. I’ve always believed that, but I have so many ways where anything that would help you, could not apply to me. I sure brought this twisted thinking into the program when I got here. You people would promise me that if I did all the meetings, did all the books, and did all the inventories with a sponsor, you promised me it wouldn’t get worse. At that point, I at least had some hope, but I thought I would never get better because I was different.
I went to a lot of meetings, and the spirit that lives in the rooms got a hold of me, not right away, not fast, but little by little. At about ten months of sobriety, I realized I was identifying with people in the rooms. I quickly realized that the program was available to anybody in the room, and there I was, in the room. I can still struggle with hope if I get too hungry, too angry, too lonely, or too tired. When this happens the hope just disappears and I don’t notice that it’s gone usually. I just suddenly feel trapped like there is no way out. When this happens, I have to ask God for help. I forget especially if things are smooth for two or three days in a row. I have a religious practice that I do, and I have many very good habits, but I sometimes don’t remember to ask God for help until halfway through the morning.
I was talking to somebody about how to ask God for help. I said, “If you don’t want to use words, take out your nice white hanky and just wave it in a public place. Help will come!” Anyways, the joy we have of being together and knowing help is always there is a great thing. I remember an experience with my friend Gil. I wanted him to come to Oakland to talk to my home group. My group is absolutely full of young people. I don’t know how that happened. We are filled with young people who are tattooed and wearing clothes. I wanted the Gil to come so they would have a chance of hearing this wonderful example of recovery and human being. When Gil stood up to speak, he was like ninety-one at the time. He started by saying, “I hope I am facing the right way, I cannot see you”. Then he said, “I hope I am not shouting, I cannot hear.” After that he states, “My name is Gil” and he started sharing. In those first few minutes, all the differences between Gil and the young people melted away. It was gone. They were with him, the entire group. He told his story as simply as any of us tell our stories, and the group fell in love with him.
Note: This is one of the best Al-Anon speakers ever; it is a powerful and moving workshop. Father Tom is a very personable speaker and he has some funny stories as well.