Today I am able to bring you a very special audio download. It’s about one person’s long struggle with Alcoholism, and how they have managed to remain sober for 42 years through the help and support of AA, and a supportive family. The alcoholic in this interview is Prof. Ross Fitzgerald. He was interviewed for the ABC by Rachael Kohn, on the ABC’s program, The Spirit of Things.
I regard this very moving confession by Ross Fitzgerald as one of the bravest things I’ve ever had the privilege to listen to. He holds nothing back as he recalls all the tragedies and deepest emotions of his life.
It’s inspiring as well as informative. He explains about AA, and what it means to him in his life, and the lives of others. He is incredibly honest about the very painful and personal struggles he goes through almost daily as an ‘alcoholic who doesn’t drink’. I think this interview will inspire hope in many of the people who hear it, as well as respect for Ross Fitzgerald’s honesty and courage.
Sometimes, people say, “AA (or NA), isn’t for me”. Well, if you’ve tried it, and it isn’t for you, fair enough. But if you think you need help, and you haven’t tried it, you may at least want to check it out, after hearing this program.
You can download the audio from this website – there is also a written transcript of the interview.
Here are some excerpts from throughout the interview:
Ross Fitzgerald: I’m permanently at risk, because what most alcoholic men or women do is to drink, and I need to be aware that the most important thing in my life is that I don’t drink alcohol or take other drugs and that I attend AA and do the best I can about that program of recovery.
Ross Fitzgerald: In the past, I used to drink to and for oblivion, to try and block out all those dreadful feelings of self-hatred and lack of worth.
Ross Fitzgerald: If we didn’t forget the dreadful pain that we suffered, we wouldn’t get out of bed. But it’s not true for alcoholism. Alcoholic men and women need to remember organically where we’ve come from, otherwise we would soon forget, and soon forget the dreadful effect that alcohol and other drugs had upon us.
Rachael Kohn: But that remembering of failure, as it were, is really hard on the ego, and I wonder whether AA is teaching us something about the fact that vulnerability can actually be ironically the source of our strength. That is, weakness can be a stepping stone to strength.
Ross Fitzgerald: That’s absolutely true, and it’s really only by surrendering to the fact that we’re powerless over alcohol…and most alcoholics can’t get and stay sober through an isolated exercise of the will. Most alcoholic men and women need help. AA is by far the most successful agency, so I often tell people, well, why not avail yourself of the best.
Ross Fitzgerald: How fortunate we are as members of the AA fellowship to have other sober alcoholics who can understand us and to whom we can confide, and to have such a network of support to cradle us during the difficult times that we all face. What a contrast to the atomised existence that I led when in the grip of alcoholism and other drug addiction.
Ross Fitzgerald: At least once a day I recite the AA Serenity Prayer, ‘Please, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.’
Rachael Kohn: That’s a profound invitation to surrender. Who do you surrender to, or what do you surrender to?
Ross Fitzgerald: I suppose I surrender to the reality that I can’t stay sober on my own, that I need help. It’s very unclear to me what I surrender to, but it’s certainly true that the meetings that I go to, the AA movement as a whole is a power greater than myself.
And letting go is…you see, the isolated exercise of the will almost never works over the long term with alcoholism and addiction. Over the long term most alcoholics need to remember where we’ve come from and to realise that almost all of us need help.
Ross Fitzgerald: If I am to remain sober, I believe that I need to regularly attend AA meetings and to consciously do what I can about AA’s suggested program of recovery. That is to say, I’m only free of alcohol and other drugs not because I am smart or wilful or clever, but because I have accepted the need for me to surrender on a daily basis. In the words of Broken Hill Jack’s sponsor, the late Bobbie Delaney, who was Australia’s light heavyweight boxing champion, ‘I’m not a retired alcoholic, I’m a defeated one.’
And there’s much, much more – I encourage anyone with any sort of addiction, or potential addiction problem, to listen to this inspiring interview.
And thank you Rachael for allowing me to link to your excellent program from my website.
My biggest thanks go to Ross Fitzgerald for having the courage to give this gut-wrenching interview to the ABC. I’m sure it will help many people who are looking to find hope in their lives.
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