Monday, May 23, 2011

The Wisdom of Old-Timers.

I'd forgotten, when writing yesterday's post, about an old-timer I knew from an open AA meeting, in a place we once lived. He was one of those gruff old guys who put on the facade to try to hide a very soft heart; when he was a young man, men were supposed to be tough all the time.

He had a phrase he used, for those people who were really involved in AA, in sponsorship, and meetings, and for one reason or another, decided to pull out, pull away, and stop showing up. It was a shorthand way to describe the very real danger they were in, when they decided to go it alone, without the support of AA, and other alcoholics, to maintain their sobriety.

In his almost 50 years in AA, he'd seen many  people who'd stopped attending meetings, drank again, and never managed to make it back. There was no judgement in his eyes when he spoke of this, only a resigned sadness for the human ability to deny reality, and sometimes, his eyes would well up, as he talked of someone lost again to the disease of alcoholism.

He'd been to countless funerals, for those who once sat beside him in meetings, and the pain showed when he spoke of this. But somehow, he never lost his ability to believe in sponsorship, and he had an unquenchable belief that "it works if you work it.

I wouldn't have thought I'd ever have forgotten his term, because it gave me the shivers, and still does now.

He called them "dead man walking."

1 comment:

  1. That makes me sad too. Indeed, those who go back out are often dead too soon. It is a brutal disease.