My name is Phil, and I'm a recovering alcoholic.

Going to treatment and Alcoholic's Anonymous meetings wasn't exactly on my "To Do" list. I didn't get to my first meeting because I had a few rough weekends. I had 17 years of bad weekends, and for me, the turning point became a matter of life and death, near loss of my wife and family, business and my self respect. The disease was killing me everyday, but it wouldn't bury me. I was at the point where my head couldn't get enough, but my body couldn't take any more.

My very first meeting was at St. Joseph's Church in Fairhaven. As I was warmly greeted at the door, I felt like turning around and bolting. My blood pressure was off the charts, and I felt sick inside from the embarrassment and humiliation. My sponsor said to follow him to the front of the room. No, dear God, he can't be serious! It felt like I was doing the "walk of shame," passing dozens of people that I thought were all looking up at me. Talk about feeling guilt and remorse!

Let me ask you, what's the hardest thing you've ever had to do? For me, it was asking for help, the dirtiest little four-letter word, and relinquishing control. I had a stubborn, defiant mind with a platinum ego.

As I sat there listening to the woman speaking, I remembered the times I promised to stop and, of course, let everyone down time and time again. I couldn't do it by myself, and then her voice broke through my thoughts and she said something that would change my life. "If I could give you all the gift of recovery, I wouldn't do it!" Wow, I thought, what a witch! "And the reason I wouldn't give you the gift of recovery is because I wouldn't want to rob you of the journey."

Only now, years later, do I realize that she was saying my journey to treatment, recovery, surrender and a new life had to be a personal one. I had to get to a place where I was defeated and beaten down to find personal victory.

There's not enough money in the world to repay A.A. for my freedom and road map to spiritual success. If you're wondering about the truth of how alcoholism is fatal and chronic, just walk into an A.A. meeting. You'll most likely hear parts of your personal story being shared by others who've experienced your very same feelings. I've learned that you can't think your way into right living, but you can live your way into right thinking.

After 35 years of sobriety, I can honestly say my worst day sober is much better than my best day drinking.

Phil Paleologos is the host of The Phil Paleologos Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @PhilPaleologos. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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