Thursday, August 27, 2009

My Name is Roger

A famed movie critic tells his story.

Excerpted from :
“My Name is Roger, and I'm an alcoholic.”
By Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun Times
Posted on “Roger Ebert’s Journal,”
August 25, 2009.
© Sun-Times News Group

In August 1979, I took my last drink. It was about four o'clock on a Saturday afternoon, the hot sun streaming through the windows of my little carriage house on Dickens. I put a glass of scotch and soda down on the living room table, went to bed, and pulled the blankets over my head. I couldn't take it any more.
At about this time I was reading The Art of Eating, by M. F. K. Fisher, who wrote: "One martini is just right. Two martinis are too many. Three martinis are never enough."
In my case, I haven't taken a drink for 30 years, and this is God's truth: Since the first A.A. meeting I attended, I have never wanted to. Since surgery in July of 2006 I have literally not been able to drink at all. Unless I go insane and start pouring booze into my g-tube, I believe I'm reasonably safe. So consider this blog entry what A.A. calls a "12th step," which means sharing the program with others. There's a chance somebody will read this and take the steps toward sobriety.
I know from the comments on an earlier blog that there are some who have problems with Alcoholics Anonymous. They don't like the spiritual side, or they think it's a "cult," or they'll do fine on their own, thank you very much. The last thing I want to do is start an argument about A.A.. Don't go if you don't want to. It's there if you need it. In most cities, there's a meeting starting in an hour fairly close to you. It works for me. That's all I know. I don't want to argue with you about it.
I've been to meetings in Cape Town, Venice, Paris, Cannes, Edinburgh, Honolulu and London, where an Oscar-winning actor told his story. In Ireland, where a woman remembered, "Often came the nights I would measure my length in the road." I heard many, many stories from "functioning alcoholics." I guess I was one myself. I worked every day while I was drinking, and my reviews weren't half bad. I've improved since then.
The God word. The critics never quote the words "as we understood God." Nobody in A.A. cares how you understand him, and would never tell you how you should understand him. I went to a few meetings of "4A" ("Alcoholics and Agnostics in A.A."), but they spent too much time talking about God. The important thing is not how you define a Higher Power. The important thing is that you don't consider yourself to be your own Higher Power, because your own best thinking found your bottom for you.

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Anonymous said...

Er, doesn't part of the 11th Tradition read: "we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films." He does not respect this tradition.

Dirk Hanson said...

An issue that comes up frequently, because it happens frequently. People break their AA anonymity, as one member put it, "when it is necessary to publicly share our stories and success in order to help the still-suffering alcoholic/addict." Whether that is a legitimate argument is always open for debate. Personally, I tend to think of it as an admonition against acting as an official SPOKESPERSON at the level of press, radio and films. But I do think that every AA member is under an obligation not to break any other attendee's anonymity without their consent.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but I cannot find the word SPOKESPERSON written in the 11th Tradition. You are, of course, entitled to your own opinion and action, as any member who does not respect any Tradition will say that they have a good reason for not doing so. We do agree on one thing: keeping someone else's anonymity is simply good manners.

Dr. Sinor said...

I for one, commend Roger for speaking his truth. If all the alcoholics decided to share their addiction stories, maybe our younger generations won't find drinking so tempting. Thanks Roger and thank you Dirk for sharing the Blog entry.

Anonymous said...

Speaking unashamedly about one's addictions, while respecting others' anonymity, is the only way to decrease the stigma and increase social acceptance of treatment. The more people in recovery, the healthier the society. Bravo to Roger!

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