I’ve heard a speaker one night say, “Hi everybody, I’m going to tell you my story is divided into two parts. What happened during the years that I drank and what I thought happened during the years that I drank.” It was very funny. But we can say that about our entire lives. For me, I could say it about my childhood, what I thought happened during my childhood, and what really happened. I could say the same thing about my marriage, my school years, etc. Looking back, it is possible you have two stories for everything, the one you told yourself, and the one that really happened. As we get rid of the old ideas, the truth is then revealed about what it really was. We begin to see God’s world, not ours, and we start getting comfortable there; life starts making sense. So I owe that man a great deal for bringing that book and telling me what really happened; setting me free from some very hateful old ideas that weren’t true. It was a huge spiritual lesson that just happened last year.
Back in my drinking days, I became an air traffic controller of all things, especially for a guy who was about to die of alcoholism. The senior enlisted guys kept me away from a lot of the important things and I just was in a survival mode. I drank all the time overseas and I lost fifty pounds due to malnutrition and alcohol poisoning. I even had a seizure where I almost bit off my tongue. Back then, they put me in a military hospital. There was no alcohol treatment. After about five days I went into the delirium tremens and I freaked out. I thought the CIA was trying to break me mentally and they were tricking me with moving walls. I was just going nuts and evidently I screamed and yelled, “They captured me!” The hospital had to put me in a straitjacket and locked me up for six months in a psych ward. While I was there, in impatient treatment, myself and three other guys who really did not think we were alcoholics, were allowed to go to an outside meeting. It was okay, but when I got released I drank again. I did know about Alcoholics Anonymous though, so on December 7, 1964 I called the AA inter-group and they sent a man named Bill over to my house. That’s how you got sponsors in those days.
They came to your house to get you. It was real easy because you didn’t have to pick a sponsor for yourself. Bill and I were both captains in the Marines and there comes a time when you either get picked for promotion or you have to leave. He got picked, and I had to leave. After two years sobriety, going to a meeting every night, my wife and my six kids were dirt poor and out in the street. I had lost my job and I had the biggest resentment about the Marine Corps. I used to bring it up at meetings whining about it; I thought I had really gotten the wrong end of that deal. Three months after I was out there, a story in The Washington Post a very simple story that said the Marine unit I was in were all killed in a plane crash on the way to Denver. If I had been promoted like I should have been, I would have been on the plane. I remember reading that, and at the time I was always complaining to God. But after that, I said, “Thank God. Boy, now I trust you.”