Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Thank you and God bless you, Jerry B.

It has been forever since my last post, but I felt the need to write about this and the thought of reporting this as a blurb as facebook made my stomach hurt. I couldn't mixing this in amongst reports of the latest shoe purchase, or what was good on tv (not much) or what I had for breakfast.

Last night, AA lost a wonderful guy and a man who carried the message of hope and recovery, literally, until he died.

Jerry B traveled from Wilmington, North Carolina to speak at an the first anniversary meeting for an AA group in Concord, NH. He had not been feeling well, but he didn't let that stop him- maybe he should have, I don't know. But what I do know is all the things Jerry said in years past that stayed with me. How he had the humility to talk about being 10 yrs sober, free from alcohol, but without a solution and suicidal.

People with the humility to share the stark reality of dry time without recovery saved my life. I was never tough enough to handle that kind of emotional pain without a drink, or some substitute, none of which worked all that well. I would hear Jerry, and be horrified initially, then steeped in gratitude when he shared how he had done the work known as the 12 steps and "recovered" from that seemingly hopeless condition of alcoholism.

Jerry had such humor, and such a genuine, down-to-earth way of putting things that made you know he was sharing actual experience and giving it to you straight, blended with a self-effacing humor that made it less painful for you to absorb.

I will never forget how Jerry described writing the names on his resentment list, described throwing his notebook across the room hundreds of times while writing that 4th step, and how he had exhausted all the names, and in telling his sponsor this, was asked. "what are the last two names on the list?"

Jerry replied, "Madonna and Jim Plunkett."

His sponsor replied, "You're done."

It was a hilarious, but poignant example of being thorough without getting too silly.

I will never forget the bleak picture Jerry painted of his suicidal depression, because it matched mine. I can't put into words how hope was born when I identified with the suffering, but saw that the man was now on a different plane, living a different life, and enjoying it, to boot.

It wasn't that exhaustive 4th step that had set Jerry free, he said, it was working with others. he talked about how he stayed depressed and enveloped in self, until "some poor bastard" asked him for help.

Upon working with the man, his depression lifted.

I never forgot that. Though prior to this week I hadn't seen Jerry since he moved to North Carolina about 10 years ago, I never forgot his shared experience, his self-effacing humor or his dedication to carrying the message of Alcoholics Anonymous.

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