The Wagon

- October 20, 2022

I recently had an experience that I found very insightful and perplexing at the same time.  I was having lunch with a friend, and they asked me “what if you fall off the wagon?” I was stunned!  I realized that this person had no idea of how Alcoholics Anonymous’ 12 step program worked.  We had been friends for years and I had talked extensively about the program with this “normal” friend.  I believed that they had gained some insight into the program through my conversations with them throughout the years.  Yet here I sat, totally bewildered by this question.

I thought to myself, “the wagon?”  What wagon?  Had I missed something in the Big Book or at meetings?  My response reflected my bewilderment to her.  I stated that I was not on any wagon, and I did not know of any wagon!  So, there was no way I could fall off of this imaginary wagon which my friend had brought up.  

I tried to explain to her that the Higher Power had removed my drink and drug problem.  This came about by working the 12 steps and applying them in my life.  I had had an entire psychic change and as long as I remained in fit spiritual condition, I would remain sober.  This fit spiritual condition does not include riding around on any wagon!  Still baffled I continued to explain to her how the 12 steps work.

The 12 steps bring about the necessary state of mind that is receptive to change.  I had learned that I had a physical allergy to alcohol and drugs; when I used them my body actually craved more of the substance I was using.  I couldn’t stop until I ran out of the substance or else ended up in a black out, usually passed out.  I had a strange mental twist that allowed me to believe that when I started a new round of drinking it would be different this time.  I would be able to control my drinking and drink successfully.  Well, this never happened as the phenomena of craving was so strong that I could not control and enjoy my drinking.  After crossing the line into active alcoholism, I was never able to control the amount I drank.  I also could not control my behavior and ended up in all kinds of precarious situations.  It took the power of God and a detox program to set me on my sober journey into life.  Literally I was struck sober.  On April 2, 1985, I had to drink until I passed out.  The next day I entered a detox unit and have remained sober ever since April 3, 1985.  Whatever happened between those two days can only be called a mystery.  One day a falling down belligerent drunk and the next day a shaky but sober person.  Of myself I did not have the power to stop drinking and using.  Some mysterious power intervened, and I haven’t had a drink since.  

So, you see I am not on any wagon.  There is no requirement in Alcoholics Anonymous to get on any wagon!  The wagon doesn’t exist!  To my friend this was news to her.  She finally got a small grasp of how the program works and how I stayed sober.  So, the bottom line is that there is no wagon, so I cannot fall off of an imaginary wagon.  I am sober by the grace of a loving and merciful Higher Power who does for me what I cannot do for myself.  For this I am ever so grateful.  


Written by Phillip