There is a chapter in the Big Book titled “A Vision for You.” A paragraph in that chapter talks about the jumping-off place. I reached that place one night in a bar after hours. I was twenty years old, and I had three children, a recent hysterectomy, and was on my third failing relationship. I also had done some jail time for a drunken escapade and was on the run from a violent ex-husband.
I couldn’t imagine life without alcohol. Sick as I was, I really believed that I couldn’t live with it or without it. I also couldn’t imagine life without my children, and I feared that if I kept drinking the way I was, I would either really mess up their lives or lose custody of them. At that time, the eldest was already living with my folks. On a geographic to their home state, my daughter had stayed behind in order to attend school regularly.
So I decided that I was at the jumping-off place. It was the only choice I could see at the time. I took a taxi home at sunrise, took one of the girls to school and the other to a sitter, then went back to the bar to think about it for a while. When I finally got up and walked out, someone asked where I was going. “To jump off a bridge,” I answered. Everyone laughed. I went out, hitched a ride to the river, and tried to jump off the bridge.
A man was concerned about the way I looked when I walked by him in the bar, and a few minutes later he decided to drive up to the bridge–just in case. At the same time, a highway patrol just happened to take the back road to the station. They managed to stop me from going over, but not without injury.
Later, I was aware enough to realize I was in a hospital, naked, tied down, and hooked up to an IV and oxygen. It felt as if my hips were broken, and they were telling me I had to stay. I had no legal choice–I was not emotionally stable and my alcohol blood-level was dangerously high.
I spent most of the next twelve hours in the emergency room. I was humiliated beyond words, hopeless, scared, and angry. I was sent to the psychiatric ward for seventy-two hours of observation.
They told me I was an alcoholic. I don’t think that I had ever heard of AA before, but I went to some meetings. I didn’t think it was for me. I wasn’t even of legal drinking age; I had never had a DUI; I still had a house and kids. I was feeling better but promised to go if they let me out. A few weeks later, they released me, and I went to a few meetings–stopping at the bar first, sitting impatiently through the meeting, and returning to the bar afterward.
In a few short weeks, I was again at the jumping-off point. I was heading home drunk after a many-day, multiple-city blackout. Unfortunately, there was no bridge over water this time. I was in a truck going sixty-five miles an hour when I jumped. I just didn’t want to face my kids or myself. I honestly didn’t know I had any other choices.
It was days before I woke up in the trauma hospital. I couldn’t remember very much about my life. But one thing I did remember was that I had a card in my purse, and I told them to call anyone on that card. They did, and someone from AA came and spoke to me. Unfortunately, it was a guy with just three or four months sobriety. When I got out of the intensive care unit, and physical rehab, and the psychiatric ward, I went to live with my knight in shining armor (the guy from AA). Although we did attend meetings, we did it my way. Before long we were both drunk again and went our separate ways.
The seed of AA had been planted. What I had heard there spoiled my drinking fun and enhanced my humiliation. But somehow I recognized safety and sanity there, even though I was not ready to accept them.
About eleven years later, I jumped from a moving vehicle again. And having been in and out of AA all through those years, I went back as soon as I could walk and talk again.
A couple of months after that, I had my last drunk. This time, I reached my jumping-off place in one day. I begged someone for a ride back to my cabin up in the mountains. Everyone was against it, especially the guy driving, but I cried and begged until he agreed–as long as he could take my gun and someone else came along to sit between me and the car door.
That night I jumped again. Only this time, I jumped into faith and recovery. I was alone on the mountain top. The children were in town at a party, as were my nearest neighbors. All night, I screamed and cried and begged God to help me. I lay naked in the fetal position on the cool dirt of the forest floor and watched the night sky turn to dawn, and I knew in my heart there was hope. I knew that hope was in AA.
About eighteen months later, I was again reading “A Vision for You,” and I realized it was about me! I knew what that jumping-off place was, and I had not only survived it, I was eighteen months sober and sane enough to be free. Suddenly, I experienced a new hope and joy, and I knew beyond any doubt that with AA and God, I could live sober. Thoroughly involved with the program, the Fellowship, and service, I ordered myself an eighteen-month medallion–the only medallion I carried the first five years of my sobriety.
I have been sober thirteen years so far. They were not easy years, but absolutely the best years of my life. I got to live with my three kids through their years in high school, juvenile halls, treatment centers for teens, jail, the incarceration of their biological father for crimes against us, and counseling–as well as their first dances, first dates, first break-ups, first jobs, and their graduations, marriages, divorces, and the births of six beautiful grandchildren.
There’s been poverty, chronic illness, chronic pain and disability, four spinal surgeries, even cancer. There have been the deaths of family members, including my mom and a young grandchild, several old friends, my last love in active alcoholism, and my first love in sobriety. There have also been a new town, a new home, new home groups, and a safe and caring relationship.
Through it all–high and low times, happy and sad times–I have been sober, not always proud of the way I acted, but nonetheless, sober. And it does get easier to practice the principles and apply the Steps in all my affairs.
I still do service work for my home group. In fact, it was opening a recent order of eighteen-month medallions that reminded me of all this and of what a good life I have today.