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We Walk This Way

After nearly ten years of sitting on bar stools, backing away from jobs, and running from people, I brought me and my drinking problem to Alcoholics Anonymous. It was not the most thrilling end that I could think of for a newly married young woman, but I had to admit that an unmanageable life would not be helpful to the baby I was expecting.

Still, since my husband had joined A.A. before we met, life seemed to be really complete once I became part of the Fellowship, too. I had been sober three months when our first child was born. One year and one month later, the second child arrived. Our third “A.A. baby” was born one year and four months after the second. So my progress in A.A. was marked by three little girls. I couldn’t 6 6 imagine anyone feeling more fulfilled than I did on the third anniversary of my sobriety.

Then came a turning point. All of a sudden, I felt completely at odds with the A.A. way of life. A doctor confirmed our worst fears when he announced that something was seriously wrong with our youngest child. Muscular dystrophy was suspected, but hospital studies disproved that diagnosis. We were left with a vague definition of our little girl’s problem; the doctors who had been called for consultation categorized her disability under the heading of cerebral palsy. None offered hope for her recovery, and an orthopedic specialist told us flatly that our daughter would never walk.

In the face of one pessimistic prediction after another, I wilted. Certainly, I knew that this was a time when my daughter needed whatever strength her mother could muster. I seemed to have none. My husband retained his faith; he had a positive belief that the doctors would prove to be mistaken. He never doubted that our daughter would walk.

Our A.A. friends also had this positive belief in the child’s recovery. They did their best to revive my fast-dying energies, and these positive forces of loving faith caused me to reassess my progress in the A.A. program. I was sober, but had I turned my will over to the care of God as I understood Him? What was I doing about “conscious contact” with my Higher Power? Was the Tenth Step part of my daily life or only a once-tried effort?

Most of the answers were negative. This meant that, while my daughter might be in a hopeless situation physically, I was functioning in a way destined to retard any progress she might make spiritually and mentally. There was no other solution than to get out of the child’s way and work on myself.

In the years that followed, my A.A. activity was increased. I reached out for my Higher Power—God—as I had never reached before. Then, one day, our daughter walked! I had accidentally let go of her hand. Our reaction to this was the same as the reaction of the people in the Scripture to the lame man’s walking—’’wonder and amazement.” At this point, she is twelve years old, and medical authorities have called her progress “unprecedented.” I am still haunted by a neurologist’s statement that her coordination is controlled by her mental processes. So long as her spirit remains free and alert, her physical activity is enthusiastic and unhampered. When her spirit is dampened, activity falters. What better lesson could I need?

This child is my textbook on “How It Works.” From the day that I let go mentally to the day that I let go physically, she progressed beyond anyone’s fondest dreams and hopes. I now try to follow her lead in working my A. A. program. As a profound thinker once said, “Self-reliance is ultimately reliance on God.” How can this truth be denied when personal experience shows it to be so?

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


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