“I’m an alcoholic. My name is Dan.”
I’ve gotten into the habit of saying those two simple phrases. They fit the curves, the angles and surfaces of my mouth now like a well-worn article of clothing fits my body. They have come to define me, just as my sweat-stained Marlboro hat and ripped jeans with dog-eared paper back in the back pocket defined me in college.
I am comfortable now, with the admission of those two defining sentences. Such was not always the case, however.
Like any good, real alcoholic I had spent a long time building up an image of myself that did not include powerlessness. I had sewn from my self-deceptions a coat of intentions and planless dreams that left me wondering why others did not see how good I was and how hard I was trying.
When my wife, newly the mother of our beautiful son, finally asked me to leave, to just not come home from work, I was drinking every day. I would go to the pub near my office in downtown Boston on my lunch break and drink a liquid carb repast of IPA while sitting alone, devouring classic works of fantasy/sci-fi by Edgar Rice Burroughs. After work, I would stop in at the pub on my way to South Station and my bus north to South Berwick, Maine, where we were living. I would inevitably stay at the pub a few minutes too long, and miss my usual bus home. This setback would, of course, afford me the opportunity to go back to the pub, or to go to the new pub located right in North Station where I could catch a later train to Dover, NH, where my wife could pick me up.
Somewhere in that meandering trek home, I would stop and procure a bottle for the ride in to work the next morning.
Nothing not my wife’s pleas, not the overwhelming miracle of my little boy waiting for me at home, not the quiet fear of losing my job could open my eyes to the fundamental wrongness of stowing away a bottle of brown liquor for breakfast the next day.
To open my eyes to the problem, it took my wife telling me on a Friday morning, “Dan, I don’t want you to come home today. I want you to get on the train after work and take it all the way to the end in Portland. I want to take a weekend apart. I can focus on the baby, and you can go to your brother’s and focus on you.” I didn’t want to hear that, but I went. That was in November of 2007, and we’re now legally separated, talking together and working together as partners only to discuss our son.
Since I came north, I quit my job in Boston, and have started to go to AA regularly. At 36, I now live with my parents in Raymond, Maine. I’m unemployed and have been living off of and supporting my wife and son with my savings from the last 12 years. In some ways, things look grim, but in another, things look better now than they ever have. You see, I’ve surrendered now, and can now, therefore, make a beginning. One place stands out in my history, as it does for so many of us in this area, as a beacon of hope and fellowship. That place is the Clyde Bailey Drop In Center in Casco, Maine.
I was so afraid when I first moved up here, so confused and befogged, that I panicked at the prospect of finding meetings to attend. It seemed such a hassle to have to thumb through my district 17 meeting book and track down the different churches and community centers where I would supposedly find my cure. Eventually, I stumbled upon the Clyde Bailey Drop In Center and found, to my comfort and delight, a group of people who seemed connected like a large and variegated family. Even better, I was told, most of them met at the Center every morning at 9 for the various formats of meetings offered. Here was a place I knew would always be there. Here was a building, inside of whose walls I felt safe and able, with the help of my new-found friends, to confront the demons I had been nourishing all these years. Here was fellowship. Here was a solution.
To this day, I make just about 5 meetings a week at the Center. It has become a home to me at a time in my life when I don’t have a home; unless you count my parents’ couch.
The Clyde Bailey Drop In Center is so important because it offers people like me a safe and consistent haven to feel at home, to feel like I have a place to hang my hat among my fellows. It is where I learned that I was an alcoholic, and that I was not going to “find my cure” anywhere, but could secure a daily reprieve with the help of a higher power and those other alcoholics around me.
I thank God for the Clyde Bailey Drop In Center and the family I’ve found there every day. The Center has made such a difference in my life, lighting my road to recovery with a beacon of hope.
Review from Guidestar