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Follow the Winners Rochester in the Grapevine

Grateful for the Downtown Group in Rochester


"The Care of God", AA Grapevine, December 1999.
Copyright ©1999 by the AA Grapevine, Inc.; reprinted with permission.

Faith in a power greater than myself is something that I'm very grateful for today. but that wasn't true in my early sobriety.

For the first five years of my sobriety, I couldn't grasp the idea that something else was in control of my life. I really thought that I was in control. Just ask the people who were around me. I was the director that the Big Book refers to. I was really good at telling people what to do and how to do it. I had no idea how to just "let go and let God". Even though I tried to control every aspect of my life, the first few years in recovery went pretty well. My job was going well, I met and married my husband, and we started a family. Life was good.

Then my life started to crumble around me. I had quit my job to stay home with our son and to help my husband with our business. Within a month of being home, we found out we were going to have another baby. We were very excited. About a month later I realized something was wrong with the baby. To make a long story short, I lost the baby, hemorrhaged and almost died, and found out I had a rare form of cancer caused by an abnormal pregnancy. I was devastated. I found myself at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, not believing this was happening to me. I was going to have to go to the Mayo every week for chemotherapy -- indefinitely. If that weren't bad enough, my mother died of a rare form aof cancer two weeks after I started my treatments. I was lost. Why was God doing this to me? I thought he was supposed to be a loving, forgiving God. Even though I was surrounded by doctors, nurses, and the hundreds of people who walk in and out of the Mayo everday, I found myself alone, frustrated, and angry.

I remember sitting in the hospital bed getting ready for my first treatment. I was looking at my Big Book thinking "I need a meeting". I looked in the phone book, called the hotline number, and found a group that met every day at noon just three blocks from the Mayo. I went that day. What a relief -- I wasn't alone anymore.

I threw myself into AA. I had always averaged three meetings a week, and now I wanted to go to as many as I could. I wasn't sure why. I wasnt' afraid I was going to drink, because the compulsion to drink had been lifted from me after my first meeting. But I needed meetings. Something was telling me to go.

I was very honest with the staff at the hospital about my alcoholism and my desire to go to that noon meeting every day that I was there. With an IV in my arm, I was allowed to go, provided I was strong enough to be out of the hospital.

Between my home group meetings in St Cloud and the Downtown Group meetings in Rochester, I stayed sober and learned a lot about myself. I found that I was emotionally and physically stronger than I ever thought. I found out what true friendship is and what unconditional alove is. But the biggest thing I learned was that I don't control a damn thing. Everything that was happening to me was out of my control. In order to stay somewhat sane, I had to learn how to "let go and let God" and turn things over to the care of God as I understood him.

My doctor told me that I was doing very well dealing with everything -- my mother's death, driving three hours one way every week for treatments, being away from my husband and son every week, and the insurance hassles I was dealing with. She said my attitude had a lot to do with my speedy recovery from the cancer and the fact that the chemo hadn't made me very sick. That's when I realized that something else was in control of my life. There had to be, because there was no way I could deal with this on my own.

Today I'm able to live my life knowing that I'm not in the driver's seat. I can live with life on life's terms no matter what. I'm relieved. There's a lot less to worry about when I'm not in control.

I also have an attitude of gratitude. I am grateful for my life and family. I'm grateful for my life and family. I'm grateful for the AA friends who gave me rides to and from Rochester and the phone calls and words of encouragement they gave me. I'm grateful for the Downtown Group in Rochester for welcoming me and letting me share. But most of all, I am grateful to my Higher Power for giving me the faith, strength, and courage I needed to make it through that trying time.

Today I am seven years sober and cancer-free, and have just given birth to a healthy baby girl. And I can't take credit for any of it. I try to start each day praying for God's will for me that day and thanking him each night for another day of sobriety.

Liz B.,
St. Cloud, Minnesota

Grateful alcoholics don't go back out.
-- Big Book Ron
Founder, Downtown Group