This week’s “Here’s To Your Health” is a continuation of Sister Ruth’s story, we ended her story last week with…My evaluation said that I had another problem besides depression and that I should go to a place on the East Coast where they specialized in treating people with drinking problems. All I could do was cry and I looked out at the Pacific Ocean and said to myself, “That ought to be enough water to do it,” but even though I felt cursed and couldn’t stop crying, I promised Sister Superior I would call her when I received my evaluation. But, I also made up my mind if she said one negative word I was going to end it once and for all.
When I called Sister Superior, I was crying so hard I could hardly talk, and she asked me, “What did they say?” I told her they suggested I go to a place on the East Coast where they specialized in people with drinking problems. Sister Superior said, “Why don’t you give it a try, you might learn something, and besides you don’t have to stay if you don’t want to.” “Whatever you decide, we’re standing behind you one hundred percent and no matter what the cost you’re worth every penny of it.” So, I thought to myself, the least I could do was go to Maryland and get another evaluation.
So ten days later I was on a plane headed for Suitland, Maryland which is about 100 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, it’s called the “St Luke’s Institute” and it’s especially for priests and nuns. When I got there I was given another evaluation that lasted about four days and my diagnosis was that I was an alcoholic, who suffered acute depression and was also brain injured. When they told me I was an alcoholic, I thought “Ok God, I always thought you’d zap me some day and now you finally did, you’ve made me an alcoholic nun!”
I’ve never forgotten that day, I thought it was the worst curse God could give me and all I could do was cry. It was the end of the line for me, I couldn’t look anybody in the eye, all I could do was look down and cry. This was in 1983 and I stayed in Suitland’s 4-month program for six and a half months; some are sicker than others.
The first thing they did was ship us out to local A.A. meetings. They loaded us in two vans and sent us around the Washington, D.C. area to meetings. When I walked into my first A.A. meeting, I was shocked to see so many people there and I tried to hide behind the others. And, when it came my turn to speak, I could not say a word and I was not able to say, “My name is Ruth, I’m an alcoholic.” At first I was too ashamed to talk and I did everything I could so I didn’t have to. I sat quietly in the corner and wanted to disappear and so that’s what I did for days on end.
Glenn. C. and Frank N. invited Barleycorn and Mickey B. to Frank’s home on Lake Papakeechee for a taped interview with Bill C. and Raymond I. Bill is a retired nuclear submarine commander and although Raymond’s career on the South Side of Chicago was seemingly less respectable, both men’s stories are historically significant to A.A. Bill and Raymond’s stories were recorded by Glenn for another of his soon to be released books. Both Bill and Raymond are often quoted in two of Glenn’s other newly released books, “The Factory Owner & the Convict” and “The St. Louis Gambler & the Railroad Man.” Bill and Raymond were sponsored by the late Goshen Bill and Brownie ( Harold Brown) who are important chapters of A.A. history in and around the St. Joe River Valley.
“The Factory Owner & the Convict,” and “The St. Louis Gambler & the Railroad Man,” are without doubt the most important books about alcoholism and spirituality written this century! Glenn’s books have enough spiritual light emanating from their pages to force the devil, screwtape and wormwood to reach for their dark glasses.
On 06-08-05, Professor Chesnut invited Barleycorn, Mickey B. (next State Convention Chairperson) and Jerry S. (Leo, IN) to a reception at his home in South Bend. The reception was held for Sgt. Bill S. who’s a retired Air Force Sgt. from Los Angeles, CA and author of “On the Military Firing Line.”
Besides the above people from the Fort, Professor C., Frank N. (AA archives), Bill C. and Raymond I. were among his other guests. Barleycorn tallied up the years of sobriety for the 9 people present and it totaled 187 years of sobriety. Sgt. Bill accounted for 57 of those years, and his sobriety date is July 5, 1948. And, last but not least, Sue Chesnut and Sgt. Bill’s wife graciously baked and served a variety of pastry delights for the reception.
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