Two men recovering from alcohol addiction saved one another that day.
Posted in , Jun 13, 2019
One cold winter morning as I looked out my bedroom window at the gray, bleak landscape. I wondered, What is my life worth? Where do I fit into the scheme of things? I felt completely overwhelmed by rejection. I couldn’t see any hope in my future. And when I considered my past, I didn’t like anything I saw. I was 45 years old, and had recently lost my job. I was getting no response to the dozens of resumés I sent out.
The idea of taking a drink occurred to me, but I had already been down that road. Alcohol had wreaked havoc on my life, but I’d been sober now for eight years. For what? part of me sneered. Alone in my house, I sank deeper and deeper into despair. My head ached as I fought one black thought after another. Am I losing my mind? I kept picturing the 12-gauge shotgun in the attic. Over and over my mind took me back to that loaded gun.
Suddenly a new thought came out of nowhere: Go see Joe. I had met Joe at Alcoholics Anonymous. A straight-talking trucker and farmer who was as opinionated as people come, he was as different from me as could be. But I admired his frankness, and eventually asked him to be my sponsor, another recovering alcoholic I could always talk to one-on-one. “Sure,” he had agreed. “Helping you helps me.” I had no idea what I could possibly offer him.
Afraid of what I might do if I stayed alone, I forced myself to get into my car. I drove the three miles to Joe’s and found him in his barnlike garage, standing near his wood-burning stove. He acted as though I was just the person he wanted to see. Soon he was telling me about things that were hurting him, trying to sort them out. He must have gone on for two hours, with me just listening, both of us sitting by the stove, tossing in a log every once in a while. Finally we hugged good-bye.
On my drive home I realized I had made it through the day. My troubles weren’t over, but hearing about Joe’s struggles had really helped me. I almost had to smile. Joe, you don’t know it, but you saved my life today.
At an AA meeting about a week later, I nodded to Joe across the room. The group recited the Serenity Prayer, then we took turns talking. Joe said, “A week a go my life seemed hopeless. In fact, I had decided to end it. I picked out a rope and the beam I was going to throw it over. But then, unexpectedly, another recovering alcoholic came by.”
I almost fell out of my chair. I had no idea!
Joe looked at me. “God used that alcoholic to save my life.”
This story first appeared in the January 1995 issue of Guideposts magazine.