Saturday, July 9, 2011

Betty Ford

Betty Ford:a nice lady.
 I went to a desert town called Rancho Mirage to dry out.

Only July 16, 1987 I was led by the arm, literally, into the admission offices of the Betty Ford Center in the dry flat lands of Rancho Mirage, California, a community in the Palm Springs area. The center was famous for treating celebrity alcoholics and drug addicts and had , from appearances, a reasonable success rates for helping their famed clientele achieve a better existence. And sometimes they didn't. I didn't care much about that at the time, though, as I was a trembling, shot-out drunk who hadn't a coherent thought in his head who knew only one thing, that I couldn't stop drinking on my own and that  my life was a gruesome plate of self-designed misery as a result. A sympathetic manager at the company I worked at the time found a drug-treatment clause in the company insurance plan and, the day after my natal birthday, my sister drove me in my brother's BMW over the mountains and far away into the  egrigious heat of the desert, to that town called Rancho Mirage, to dry out. All  I wanted was to stop hurting and to stop causing hurt.

My prayer was answered. I have been sober since that nervous day.

Ten days into my 28 day stay at the facility, Betty Ford herself came to speak to the current crop of patients, something she did regularly. She was a small woman, surprisingly so, almost frail looking, but she had a sparkle in her eye indeed--I remember at the time that her cheeriness seemed chronic and irritated me to no end--and she had a way of lifting her head , chin up, as she spoke, as if rising from some bad news and tragic consequences to surmount , in large and small bounds and steps, what set backs befell her.  She told us her story, her drunkalogue, as it were, telling us how bad it became for her and then related the redemption and recovery, the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous that supported her when her sobriety was tested.  She related to the varied assembly that she had found a plan for living, something that I was in the market for.  She wished us well and godspeed on our respective paths to sobriety, signed our institution -assigned Big Books, and then left .

After my 28 days at the Ford Center I returned home and went straight back to the meetings I attended before ; as I've said , I have not had a drink since that time and now am mere days away from celebrating 24 years of continuous sobriety. I credit what I've learned and practiced in the already mentioned 12 step group for the relatively easy time I've had of it avoiding mischief, but the Betty Ford Center was something that was available to me at that precise moment in time; the only thing I did was to stop saying no to whatever  good opportunities presented themselves and went into the Center with my ears open and my mouth closed. I thank Betty Ford for the good work she did in establishing the facility. I thank her for helping me get the break I needed to discover something greater than myself.