Despite all we can say, many who are real alcoholics are not going to believe they are in that class. By every form of self-deception and experimentation, they will try to prove themselves exceptions to the rule, therefore nonalcoholic. If anyone who is showing inability to control his drinking can do the right- about-face and drink like a gentleman, our hats are off to him. Heaven knows, we have tried hard enough and long enough to drink like other people! – Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 31
Back in the 80s I worked the phones Friday nights at the Ferndale office. Even though I was giving up one of my favorite meetings to do it, I was more than compensated by the great times we had. My old friend Willene G. was my partner, but we always had a lot of folks dropping by to sit and talk program. It was there that I met “Indian” Tom and Arnie and many more whose names escape my aged brain.
We didn’t get many calls from desperate alcoholics. It was mostly people who needed rides to meetings or were new to the area and wanted to find a meeting. The people who called for help most often were family members of alcoholics. I got to be pretty good at sharing the Alanon program and probably helped more people than I hurt.
One night we got a call from a man who wanted us to tell him whether he was an alcoholic. He proceeded to explain in minute detail all the reasons he was not an alcoholic. He did not to believe he was “in that class.” I listened to him go on and on, all the time thinking that I could be sitting at a meeting where people at least knew who they were. He finally finished and asked my opinion. Bad idea. I said to him “There are thousands of people in the Detroit area with phone books, and AA is on the first page of every one of them. Not one of them felt a need to call me and ask if they were alcoholic. Except you. What do you think?”
When we were drinking, we did not want to believe we were in that class. But everyone who loved us knew we were, and often said we were, and it drove a wedge between us. We knew there was a fellowship of alcoholics, but we wanted no part of them. And then we wondered why we felt so alone.