Welcome to another entry of Grateful Heart Monday, where I express a piece of gratitude to begin my week on a positive note, which for today is for a guy in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) who was assigned to meet with me due to my excessive binge drinking, back when I was put on academic probation during my college years.
The year was 1994, and I was a senior at Rochester Institute of Technology, studying to get my Bachelor of Science in Business Information Systems. I was a good student, but a terrible drinker. Alcoholic to the very core, yet unbeknownst to me at the time, I continued to drink to excess on just about every night of the week. That is until I got into some serious trouble on campus one evening and was put on academic probation with a few stipulations that had to be met if I wanted to remain a student there.
The one stipulation that bothered me the most was the one I’m actually most grateful for today, yet back then I didn’t see it that way. The idea that I had to sit down and meet with a representative from AA for three several hour-long visits, felt totally absurd. My mind rationalized that everybody drank like me and I had plenty of examples of that in my fraternity to cite out. Everybody got drunk, pretty much all the time when alcohol was around, and that was exactly what I told this AA individual in each of his visits.
Yet, this man never batted an eye, never made me feel less than, never told me I was an alcoholic, or accused me of anything. He only did what Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith began such a long time ago when AA was founded, by sitting with me, and sharing his own story of alcoholism and asking if I thought I might have a problem. While I repeatedly denied that I did in each of his visits, what this man shared with me sat with me quite deeply, even long after his visits had been completed.
I’m not sure I ever actually drank in the same way again after that, as his words, his kindness, and his unconditional love and desire to help another suffering individual remained with me in every single drunken binge until June 10thof 1995, when I took my very last drink and admitted to myself that I had a problem and was indeed an alcoholic just like him.
I wanted so badly to contact this man at that point to let him know what I had discovered about myself. Unfortunately, other than the image of his face being the only thing I could remember about him and the alcohol and drug representative not having a way to contact him anymore either, I assumed I wasn’t meant to see connect with him again.
Ironically though, God in all His profound ways, saw fit to bring the two of us together one final time and by chance at that. On a random trip about six months later, my mother and I were in the middle of Texas, heading to Austin, when I asked to stop at a grocery store to get something to drink before we continued on our way. There at the entrance, as I walked in, was the very AA guy who had sat with me almost two years prior, who had given me his life story and all his humility in the process.
I knew God put him there at that very moment for one reason and one reason only, and that was for me to thank him for his words that he had imparted upon me several years prior. We embraced while I thanked him for being a conduit for God and for getting me on a Higher Path, one that I’m not sure I would have ever found if it hadn’t been for him.
I’m still sober today and while I don’t even remember this AA guy’s face anymore, his spiritual presence, unconditional love, and genuine light continues to live within me, as I now carry the same torch that he did, doing my best to pass on my experience, strength, and hope to others who may be suffering, just like I once was. And for that I’m truly grateful for a guy God put in my life to help me begin my path to sobriety and eventually recovery…
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson