This week’s guest columnist is Steve C, who is a friend of Alcoholics Anonymous. Steve’s story could not be adequately covered in just one issue of The Waynedale News so to be fair, we’ve condensed it into a series of short articles; here then is the beginning of Steve’s story.
My name is Steve and I am a recovering alcoholic. Fifteen years ago when I first darkened the doors of Alcoholics Anonymous, my lips could not utter the words “I am an alcoholic.” For reasons I never understood, from my earliest recollection, I felt different from everybody in my family. I was born in a town of about 3,000 in central Indiana, into a family of eight children. It seemed normal that my parents were drunk almost every night because that’s all I knew. And, it also seemed normal to be physically, emotionally and mentally abused because from my earliest memory that’s all I remembered. Real or imagined, it seemed my father seized every opportunity to admonish and punish me for my many shortcomings. Father said, “You’re stupid, you’ll never amount to anything.” Mother threatened me with a punishing God, of hell, fire and brimstone, she said, “If you curse or look at girls, God will send you straight to hell!”
By the tender age of 13, I detested alcohol and anybody who drank it, but that suddenly changed after I sneaked a drink of it from my parent’s ready reserve. Suddenly alcohol became my saving grace because when I was under its influence the constant abuse didn’t seem so bad. With the help of my new-found friend, alcohol, it was much easier to tolerate my parents.
However, it all came unraveled at the age of 17 when my father attempted to give me one last beating. After that incident, I quit school and joined the Army. After basic training I did a tour in Germany where my drinking escalated and I started finding myself in constant trouble. I believe that’s when I crossed the line and progressed from heavy drinking to chronic alcoholism. All my “off” time was spent intoxicated; a black–out drinker whose life spiraled out of control and so I volunteered for Vietnam. I arrived in Saigon, Vietnam during January of 1967, and was sent from there north to the Central Highlands.
My out-of-control drinking continued and I started using drugs. At the end of that tour I re-upped. My second tour was considerably different because it began during the Tet Offensive of 1968. Friends got killed; I hurt some people and my skewered alcohol and drug induced reality raved on.
At this point in time I believed there was no God because if there was, He wouldn’t allow this sort of thing to happen. I remember belly crawling through a dark, dank, poignant jungle, gently probing in front of me for anti-personnel traps and those who didn’t, returned home by a path they’d never walked before.