The next morning I woke to another freezing cold St. Louis day. I took a shower having decided to go to the Sunriser’s AA meeting at Edgewood treatment center were I had just been released. I put on my best Brooks Brothers suit. After all it was Sunday morning and my ego was still with me and I was going to show these AA’ers who I was.
After chugging a hot cup of coffee I jumped into my old beat up work truck, Big Red, and drove to the meeting. What a sight I must have been. Jumping out of a work truck in a Brooks Brothers suit and immediately failing right on my ass in the parking lot due to ice. A couple of meeting goers came over, asked if I was okay and then helped me up.
No one else in the 7 am meeting was in a coat and tie.
Off to a funeral? My soon to be friend Paul asked.
Something like that. I replied.
I took my seat in the back as close to the door as possible. This was only my 6th day sober and 5th AA meeting so I was still very new and completely out of water.
Are you a Lipscomb?
Are you a Lipscomb? An older lady by the name of Fran asked.
Yes, how did you know? I asked.
I waited on you and your family at the club.
Hello Lippo Jr. Came from an old friend of Dads whom I had no idea was in AA.
Hello Mr. Smith. I said.
Welcome and if there is anything I can do for you please let me know.
Hi Johnny, came from a tall man.
Fred? Wow, I didn’t know that I was that sick! Came out of my smart-ass mouth.
Fred and his partner were the florist to the elite in St. Louis and my family had been using him and their service for many years.
Well, I guess the secret is out of the bag. I made it through the meeting but I still had the DT’s in a bad way. I got in my truck and left. At this point I wasn’t getting to much out of the meetings but it was a place for me to go and be with others fighting to stay sober.
I remember telling myself that I will give this a few days and if it doesn’t get better then I am going to buy some beer, my drug of choice.
I drove to Exodus for my 8:30 am meeting and entered the non descript brick red square office building. I certainly didn’t remember this building from a few days ago but then I was basically in a black out when I went on my father’s suggestion.
There he is, the Chinese speaking man! Came from a complete stranger.
I looked around to see if someone was behind me but only my shadow followed.
You were speaking Chinese when you met me he other day.
I never met you and I certainly do not speak Chinese. I replied
I was wondering if you would remember. You must have been in a black out. You were here for an hour pacing and going in and out to smoke and it was almost impossible to understand you.
Wow! I vaguely remembered being here.
Anyway, I am John Lipscomb and I have an appointment.
Hi I’m Angela and I will be your counselor.
Angela was small in stature, a little older than I and walked with authority.
Come back to my office please.
Where are you going all dressed up?
I just came from a meeting.
An AA meeting?
Okay, we have a detailed plan for your recovery planned out. She said.
We want you to go to 90 AA meetings in 90 days, get a sponsor, work the steps, come to aftercare 3 nights a week for 12 weeks, read the Alcoholics Anonymous book, commonly referred to the Big Book, get a sponsor and don’t drink.
Let’s back up. I don’t have time for 90 meetings, there is no way I am coming here 3 night a week, already read the Big Book and there is no way I am going to get a sponsor and work steps.
What are you willing to do? She asked.
A blank stare. I had no idea what I was going to do about anything. I had a mountain of problems and everyone was out of my life.
I don’t know but all those things you said are not going to happen.
So you want to personalize your plan? Make it Johnny’s Anonymous.
She’s a quick learner.
Not going to happen.
I am staring in awe at the audacity of this little 5-foot counselor trying to tell me what to do.
I look around and my Father’s friend Dick Sattler who started Exodus is standing in the doorway.
How’s everything going?
He directed the question to Angela, not me.
John and I were just going over his program plan.
Is that right Johnny?
Good. Glad to hear. I just got off the phone with your Father and he is looking forward to coming for the family part of outpatient for the next 12 weeks.
I never thought in a million years Dad would come to an aftercare program with me. In fact he did, and he made 11 or the 12 weekly meetings. It really helped our relationship and it gave him an understanding of what I faced ahead of me. We were riding the same wave.
Angela continued, so we have a deal?
Good boy, Dick Sattler said as he left the doorway.
What did I just agree to do?
I went home, called my Father and thanked him for his willingness to attend the family part of outpatient.
Since it was still to cold to work outside which my job demanded I decided to take a look at the financial disaster I had created and figure out what to do about it.
I made it through the day and night but funny thoughts were starting to creep into my head and I decided to go to bed at 8 pm just to get the day over.
The next morning I jumped out of bed ready to go to the 7 am meeting but this time I wore jeans and a shirt with a sweater.
The meeting went well and the day slowly went by. My first outpatient meeting was that night and I really didn’t know what to expect.
To be continued