Tom H 00:00
A delicate chain of our lives and everybody's got one and they all link up at some point and free ours link up in a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. It didn't make any difference how low or how high we went apparently was God's perfect succession of events and moments. God moments and God things we avoided and things we experienced to get me here.
John M 00:25
Hello friends of Bill W and other friends you have landed on Sober Speak. My name is John M. I am an alcoholic. And we are glad you're all here, especially newcomers, newcomers that is both to recovery as a whole. And newcomers to this podcast. Sober Speak is a podcast about recovery centered around the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. My job here on Sober Speak is simple. My job is to provide a platform to the amazing stories of recovery all around us. Consider Sober Speak, if you will, your meeting between meetings. Please remember, we do not speak for AA or any 12 Step community. We represent only ourselves. We're here to share our experience, strength and hope with those who wish to come along for the ride. Take what you want, and leave the rest at the curb for the trash man to pick up.
John M 01:30
Hello, my little chickadees that was the voice of Mr. Tom. H, that you heard at the beginning of this here, Episode Episode Number DOS, uno tres 213. And you are going to hear so much more from him and just un momento. But first things first. This episode is being brought to you by Patricia and Laura and Tanya and Dell. So you ask what exactly John M did Patricia and Laura and Tanya and Dell do where they went to our website www.soberspeak.com. And they made a little a contribution. And I want to say thank you so much to Patricia, Laura, Tanya and Dell this episode is coming right out to humans. For those of you new to the pod. The reason I use the term humans is because my father is from Tennessee. And that is terminology that folks well at least folks like my dad who is a self proclaimed hillbilly uses up in that neck of the woods. Some times you unz it's just like saying y'all but it's even a little more southern than that. I, John M just another bozo on the bus will indeed be the chairperson for this meeting between meetings and I am truly honored and privileged to serve all of you listening is to take a seat if you will around this virtual table and let's get started. Now remember, four out of five sponsors surveyed recommend Sober Speak as a way to improve your sobriety I'm making all this up on the fly. I've never actually did a survey a sponsor, but I would just imagine they would agree four out of five of them. You know, I could be wrong, but nonetheless, here we go.
John M 03:56
Alright, so let me just say what's going on? I'm going to be probably not too long winded on this because the lovely Mrs. M is a cooking up some vittles down there in the kitchen. And I am hungry and you know this. I'll be honest with you all. I told her right before I'm coming up here. It's been a Oh, just a day. Okay, I'll just put it we all have stressful days, right? Mine has been. It doesn't even matter. Right? We all have stressful days. But here's what I told the lovely Mrs. M. I said you don't want I'm going to go record something on the podcast or work on the podcast a little bit because you know what? When I do that you guys are actually a stress reliever for me. In other words, I can come up here I can kind of get out of myself and all everything that's going on in my little whirlwind of a mind And, and be here to share some time with you guys. So thank you for for being there with me.
John M 05:08
I had a little experience this week I just was thinking about actually, as I was walking up here to make this recording. And so my daughter, my beautiful, wonderful, lovely daughter, she had a flat on the way home from work now turns out she kind of like rubbed up against the curb little because somebody cut her off or something like that. I don't know. But nonetheless, it made a flat tire, right? So I was like, hey, you know, hey, flat tires happened, no big deal. So I went down there and I got her. And then we brought her back to the house and called the insurance company and they said, hey, you know, we can come out? We could do this and that and this and that as well. All right, that'd be fine. So I got the lovely Mrs. M, when we left my daughter here at home and went down there to work with the guy there. This is probably 20 minutes away from the house, went down there to work with the guy who was gonna fix the whole situation, right from insurance, and got down there. And he said, Yeah, all I need is the wheel lock to your car, or just gives me to your you know, we're locked to the tires on your car, or to your daughter's car. I said, Oh yeah, no problem. And I opened up the trunk and there's no wheel lock. And so I call my daughter and I'm like, Hey, whereas the wheel lock, and she said, Oh, well. Remember when we had some troubles with the tire a few weeks ago? Well, that wheel lock, they left it in the they left on the seat of my car. And I picked that wheel lock up. And I really like how it felt in my hand. I really like the weight of it. I like how it felt on my hand. So I brought it up to my room.
John M 07:05
I said hold on, let me get this straight. The wheel lock is sitting in your room. Because you like how it feels in your hand. Like a little stress reliever or something I guess like that. She goes Yeah. I said okay, well, I'll be back home in just a moment. So I got back home we got the wheel lock, I got her down there we meet the guy with the tire again. It turned out to be like, I don't know, three, four hour night going back and forth with all this deal and all the insurance and all that sort of stuff. But you know what? I am here today and we're doing just fine. But and I don't know why I felt like sharing that but I did.
John M 07:47
Alright, so here is the big announcement again. We are gonna have a shin dig in what John M do you mean by a shin dig? Well, we're gonna have a Sober Speak LIVE! event. And that is going to be on December 3 Friday night at 7pm Central time in the estados de unite OHS Is that how you say United States in Spanish? You know what I'm talking about? I'm talking about the United States of America. Nonetheless we are going to be having that and where is it going to be John? Well, it's going to be at the Grace Avenue United Methodist Church in Frisco Texas and you say John M don't have to remember all this name. We do not have to remember all this. All you got to do is go to that website www.soberspeak.com and all the information is there for you. In fact I think the lovely Mrs. M put on one of those little you know annoying pop ups that come to a website when you go there but even if that is not there, just go to the tab I think you call this every column it you write a tab that says Sober Speak LVIE! event. So if you are coming to that event and you do need childcare, please email me firstname.lastname@example.org And we can have you childcare available but we don't want the folks to be there if there are no child's your children you know I'm saying so anyway, we're looking forward to having you we're gonna have food drinks music and like I said child care if needed, please email me at email@example.com.
John M 09:35
So you're out there in the Netherlands right and you're saying to yourself wow I really wish I could go to that event John but I'm a plane trip away or I just not going to be able to make it and I'm feeling kind of down. Well have no fear. Do you know why you should have no fear because you can join us? Virtually That is weird. We're going to be streaming this wonderful event. Oh, and I don't think I even told you who is going to be at this event, John. And well, that will be Reno John A who will be sitting down with me on an interview. And we will also have the one and only Mary Lyn B whose music Oh, you know what I'm going to do, I'm going to play one of her songs at the end of this episode. In fact, you know what, I just thought about something. I through the magic of recording and you know, audio editing and all that sort of stuff. I think I'm going to play one of her songs right after this, and then we'll go into the episode. So anyway, you're going to get to hear a taste of now you're going to get to hear an audio clip from Mary Lyn B coming up right after this little introduction here. And anyway, we've had her on the podcast before and she'll be playing all that music. But once again, back to where I left, I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry, I get distracted. So easy. If you are out there in I don't know, Finland, or you're in Minnesota, or you're in South America, or your Africa or wherever you are, and you want to join us. How would I do that? John M. All you got to do is be in the secret Facebook group. So you go to Facebook. And if you're not in there already, just search for Sober Speak secret group. And you can find us you can ask for admission and we'll get you on in there. And we will be streaming the event live both visual and audio. Yes, you can see everybody now we're just going to show the people on the stage not the people in the audience, but you get the general idea. And here's another piece to the equation. Say you I'm sure you've been listening to this podcast sometimes and you say to yourself, gosh, I wish John had asked this question. Well, that night in the Facebook group, you will be able to ask your questions of Mr. Reno John and we would love to have you there so if you're not in the secret Facebook group ask for admission and we'll get you in there and you can attend that event with us once again it's December 3 Friday night 7pm Live Central time.
Mary Lyn B 12:27
Oh and we're and then you say to yourself well what if I can't make the Facebook Live Event either John? Well you're in luck we are going to record the episode both the question and answer by me and the question and answer by the audience and we will release those episodes as a as an episode we will release those recordings as an episode at some point in the future. All right now I'm getting really hungry I'm gonna have to go down to see Mrs. M. I've been talking way too long. Alright, so now we are on though to our featured guest of the week. It is Tom age, Tom age and this one is called delicate chain of our lives. Tom has been sober for 37 years and he got sober on Christmas Day of 1983 He comes from a Midwest famished excuse me Midwest family. That was a bunch of Irish Catholic Democrat baseball fans as he says, we talk about Tom's moment of clarity that brought him in to Alcoholics Anonymous. The gift of desperation dealing with fear his what he calls husband in law is a quite an interesting story on that in his quote, not recommended unquote relationship in Alcoholics Anonymous, Zarin everybody sit back enjoy this one Mr. Tom ah and we will first I'm going to play that little song by Mary Lyn and then we will have Tom then we will have plenty Oh listener feedback at the end of this episode enjoy.
John M 17:38
Okay everybody, so today we are sitting here with Mr. Tom H is there Tom H, I'm going to go ahead and let you introduce yourself. Please give your sobriety date if you wish and tell people where you live in this great land of ours please.
Tom H 17:54
Thanks y'all. My name is Tom H I'm an alcoholic. My sober day because most high God did for me today like never do for myself. I haven't had a drink all day to day or any other day since Christmas Day of 1983. And I'm amazed and grateful for that. reside in Dallas, Texas, North Dallas. A home group is Dallas, North alcoholics.
John M 18:15
Tom H 18:16
Christmas day. What a gift.
John M 18:19
Right? I guess to your family or whoever was around the time I'm sure. But that is quite a gift. That's fantastic. So 1983 1983 Help me with the math there.
John M 18:31
37. And December if I make it till December, so far today is going pretty good.
John M 18:37
That's great. Fantastic, Tom. So the reason that we are together is because Bob s who has been on the podcast before he's got a couple of episodes, actually. And they were both entired oh, gosh, for our marine force
Tom H 18:56
force recon. Yes, exactly.
Tom H 19:00
And I got a lot of comments about that. As you know, he has SWAT teams and all kinds of drama in your story. But he reached out to me and he says, Hey, I got a guy that you have just got to have on the podcast and so we scheduled some time together. Tom actually came out here we're in what I call studio A.
Tom H 19:23
John M 19:25
As you can see, we're in the guest bedroom upstairs of my house. So um, but you're interesting. We were talking before this and you were say that you and Bob are a little bit different. In other words, Bob does have all the drama, but talk talk to us a little bit about
Tom H 19:42
Yeah, it's really interesting because Bob came into Dallas north, Alcoholics Anonymous and I had about a year sober matter of fact, we celebrate together we've celebrated 36 consecutive years together of Alcoholics Anonymous. And it's really interesting because Bob came in and you've heard the drama of his story. And mine's pretty just cut and dry just kind of, you know, get a little alcoholic from small towns in the Midwest and Catholic Irish alcoholic and grew up and alcohol in the family and didn't drink for a long time. But when I started to got problematic and ended up in AA. Bob and I became good friends and, and we've done many things together overall he's 36 years and, and the other day when he and I kind of did a tag team steps over at Harbor Group in Fort Worth, it occurred to me that between the two of us Bob's drama, and all the stuff he went through, and all the legal problems and my kind of just one step at a time, you know, and kind of a middle of the road kind of thing. If you think you haven't gone deep enough, I can tell you still qualify because that's me. If you think you've gone too deep, you still qualify because that's Bob. And so between the two of us, you have no excuse for not getting sober. That's right.
John M 20:51
And I do you know, I think about that sometimes when I'm recording these folks that we release it and in all the drama. Like, like I said, Bob had SWAT teams, you shoot it shales, he, I mean, oh my goodness, you know, all the Vietnam stuff. And yeah, and
Tom H 21:08
he was a real he's a real hero of Vietnam. Highly decorated Marine war hero, real war hero, if you haven't, if you don't know how to get to know him. Yeah,
John M 21:15
yeah, he is really such a good guy. And, you know, I think about that when I'm releasing these things where, you know, people who are just maybe kind of discovering the program about what they may think about, you know, have I gone down far enough? And like, I'm glad you're here, because the point you're bringing up Yeah, you don't have to go all that way down.
Tom H 21:36
Now, I used to ask God you know, do you know why did you let me go so far? Why did you let me get to where I got. And one day, I don't know, hear, you know, I don't see flashes of light. I don't get bills, hot flashes, like it says in the book, and but I get these little knowings. And suddenly, I just kind of knew, Tom, you could have gotten off that elevator anytime you want to you chose to ride it as far as you rode it. And I think that's as my my observation like, so my opinion is debatable. My experience is not my experience in a over the years is people get off when there's hurt enough that they want to stop. You know, and there's one of our guys and our men's we have a great men's group on Tuesday nights at COVID. When the COVID hit, we decided to go ahead and meet anyway, outside rather than not meet. There are about five or six of us. And now 19 months later, whatever it is anywhere from 35 to 50 guys every Tuesday night shows up in the parking lot. We're still out in the parking lot. Wow. Because we like it out there. What happens when it rains we've only been rained out two times, okay? And all these times we end if it gets cold, we have a bonfire we bring a fire pit and sit around the fire phenomenal meeting phenomenal meeting. And one of the guys that goes to that meeting says there is a step zero. And step zero this is this just has to stop and I cleaned that up a little bit from the way he expresses it. But he says this has to stop that step zero then you're ready to take some other steps.
John M 23:02
Do you ever have people walking by the meeting wonder what you're doing?
Tom H 23:06
Oh yeah, yeah, they go by and they're getting kind of used to us now for a while we had people calling the fire department because we had a bonfire out in the parking lot and the police came by a couple times and but they know us now and we're all settled and they know we're recovery group but we get guys brandwe give out desire chips there we get guys coming in brand new and and and we started off being all men's meeting and then some lady showed up so I need a meeting really badly. So we invited them to sit in so it still basically a men's meeting but a few ladies are coming in on a fairly regular basis. Now as long as you understand it's a men's meeting and the language is going to be man like
John M 23:45
like the guy who says all this stuff has to stop. Yeah, exactly. Step zero. Well, I I know some ladies that could probably do some of the men. Everyone I know you know, there's
Tom H 24:01
a strong women strong women in sobriety, very strong women.
John M 24:05
Alright, so let's talk about Tom and your story a little Tommy. So you mentioned the Midwest there. You grew up in the middle of
Tom H 24:12
Grew up in Illinois, little bitty farm town, Illinois of 150 people though farm town Broadwell, Illinois, right in the center of the state but halfway between Chicago and Springfield.
Tom H 24:21
And I grew up in this little town where it was Tom H, I'm Irish Renu my last name. It's very Irish. Yes. And my grandfather was Tom H, my dad's oldest brother was a Tom H and they were both very successful men. So they would pat me on the head and say you're going to be special because you're a Tom ah, and so I grew up with this manifest destiny of greatness that they imposed upon me because of my name. And Charles Schulz, the philosopher and cartoonist said there's no heavier burden thana great potential. So I grew up. I grew up with that potential. And so by the time I was five or six years old, I decided I was going to have to get to college. So I start planning college.
Tom H 24:59
I was a little obsessive compulsive when I was young. So I figured out how to get to college started working hard and and maxed out on my grades and concentrated on that and figured sports is going to be the only way I'd get there. So I concentrated on sports and ended up getting some scholarship the University of Arkansas had several scholarship offers in football and track and ended up at the University of Arkansas track scholarship here a hog that was a hog. Yeah, yeah, still at once a haul goal is a
John M 25:26
hog right. Called pigs. Yeah. Pig suey?
Tom H 25:29
Yeah. Initially, I didn't start drinking till I was my sophomore year college. I didn't have my first drink real 20th year yeah, just before my 21st birthday, because I was absolutely terrified of drink because it would interfere with my destiny. And the same thing with women, I stayed away from women and alcohol all the way through high school, never had a drink. Never messed around with women, because I, I knew that that back in those days, that was back in the 50s went to college and 64 back in those days, the worst thing you can do is, you know, get caught drinking beer, or get a girl pregnant, right? And then your life is over. And so I avoided those things.
John M 26:07
And so was there any particular reason that you were afraid of both the women and the alcohol? Or was that just something you just kind of knew from societal
Tom H 26:20
interesting question. As a matter of fact, I got thinking about that. Just the other day, I'd heard the stories about my father. He was a heavy alcoholic. But he never drank he stopped drinking when I was born. I never saw him take a drink the rest of his life. Just before my aunt died after my father passed away. Just before my aunt died. I asked her if dad ever went into any AA meetings and she said she thinks he might have because every once while he'd say something like it's just one day at a time and it's not last drink to get you. It's the first drink. He never didn't go to meetings that I know of. But apparently this is back in. I was born in 45. That's when he quit. So this is early, early, early in AA history. And apparently he caught a few meetings and it worked for him.
John M 27:01
Wow. Was there any other alcoholism or? Yeah,
Tom H 27:05
whole family? You know, you know, the Irish families, you know, they'll say only difference between an Irish wedding and Irish wake because there's one less drunk at the wake. You know, so there's alcohol everywhere. The old Irish families, as part of our culture, have also learned that the Irish have a physiological predisposition to alcoholism we process it just like American Indians and few other cultures have a predisposition for it. So not only is it cultural, but this physic there's a certain physiological component to as well. But my great uncle's real alcoholics, they were cooks, chefs. You know, one was a chef in Chicago when Al Capone's favorites one was a chef on the railroad between Chicago and the northwest and one was a chef out at the lumber yards in the Great Northwest and all of them were alcoholics. But my my grandfather did not drink that's because my grandmother was a stern little German woman she wouldn't let him.
John M 27:59
So the two Tom Hs before you the grandfather didn't drink. And we think that maybe because like you said the grandmother was involved.
Tom H 28:08
He made Apple Jack which sneak out to the barn every now and then. Apparently,
John M 28:14
Apple Jack not the cereal,
Tom H 28:15
no. Fermented apple juice, he would make
John M 28:21
Wasn't there cereal named Apple Jacks? Yeah. Good. So alright, so you have this kind of cat. I'm sorry. We Catholic as well. Yeah, yeah. Okay. Oh, yeah.
Tom H 28:34
We, you know, as it was, we were Irish Catholic Democrat baseball fans, my great uncle, the one that told Uncle Tom played professional baseball, and he made it to triple A and had a chance to go on down the majors and he got called up once, I think for a little bit. My other uncle, uncle, old uncle Pat was a baseball player out in the Great Northwest, he played against the old Negro Leagues, which was as good as the majors in those days. And so baseball was a big part of our family. My dad had a chance to play professional baseball and didn't go because he was drinking hard. And so the baseball was part of the athletics and the baseball was part of our family. That's why it was part of my plan for the future. Because my aunt and Helens house on Helen Uncle John, Dad's sister on the wall, there is a picture of the Pope Jack Kennedy and Jackie Robinson. Wow. So that was our religious, Irish alcoholic baseball fans.
John M 29:29
That's great. Okay, so so your girl and I also wanted to ask you real quick about your, your your athleticism in. So you went to Arkansas, you get a scholarship there for both football and track.
Tom H 29:42
I didn't go there and football went there on track. One of the things I talked about John, I'm glad you kind of brought that up and something kind of how we ended up together. I've come to realize that there's this delicate thread through our lives. And you know, that thread is a if everybody's listening to this. If they envision their life as A thread of a certain color. And that trails out behind our lives and takes us all over the globe and all over the world in our prisons and recovery centers and hospitals and, and divorce courts and halls of Congress and great stuff. But it all comes together at a point in a room at one time for a purpose. So I got then I realized one day it's a delicate chain, it's not a threat. It's a chain. What if one blink had been missing? What if I have missed one? One more drink or one less drink? One more marriage? One less marriage? One? What if one thing what if I'd taken that phone call instead of not taken it? What if I had not met Bob s but I did meet Bob s. And the story of how I got to Alcoholics Anonymous is so weird. And the same way the University of Arkansas because I had scholarships to four or five colleges in the Midwest football scholarships. Now my high school track coach went out to University of Colorado to get his master's degree. His roommate was a guy named Rodney Ryan, who is from University of Arkansas getting his doctorate degree. So he convinced my high school track coach to go to Arkansas the following year to work on his doctorate, Ronnie Ryan happen to be head of the phys ed department, University of Arkansas. And so when he went down there to get his housing put together he took me with him. We took a transcript of my grades, which were you know, obsessively, compulsively obsessively high. I'd score well on the AC T's and took some things of me high jumping. So we went in there on a Thursday by Friday afternoon, had a full scholarship, University of Arkansas. Wow. And they asked me what I wanted to do. And I hadn't thought about that. I just wanted to go to college. I didn't realize you had to do something at college. I said, Well, architecture, I guess because years earlier, I'd sent off on these little matchbook things draw me contest, yeah, to Milwaukee and a guy drove from Milwaukee down to sign me up for their art school. And I was only 14 years old. I was a freshman in high school, I was a little young to go to their college. But his T I wasn't even there. My mom had shown himself in my drafting classes, drawings and said though your son should going to go to college, if you can't go to college, I didn't come back and go to art school. He said he should major in something like architectural engineering. So I'm sitting in front of the Dean Admin University of Arkansas now on scholarship. Now I have to get enrolled. Sit in front of the Dean admin says, What do you want to be? What do you want to major in? I don't know why mine went back to that guy. And I says, Well, architecture, I guess, they took me over and enrolled me in the architectural school. And of all the scholarships I had. That was the only school had an architectural program. Wow. And so I'm an architect today. I still love it, it is my passion. And so I said, okay, so they signed me up. They usually only take 60 people, that was the only year time in the history of Arkansas, they took 61 people, I was the 61st person in the class that year. And so it was just astounding. And so I lost that scholership. I'm five foot 10 Slow. I'm a white guy. I was a high jumper. You know, and just God's sense of humor is amazing. I get a scholarship for high jumping. I mean, I did pretty good. I jumped six feet four and I was five feet 10 You know, but it just just high enough to get me into Arkansas. But it wasn't good enough to keep that scholarship, but I lost it to next year to some football players. And that's okay. But I went back on my own from then on. So it's just again, that delicate chain. What if what if, what if
John M 33:26
What did you call, the delicate thread?
Tom H 33:27
Delicate chain of our lives. Yeah, and everybody's got one and they all link up at some point. And free ours link up in a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. And so didn't make any difference. How low or how high we went apparently was God's perfect succession of events and moments God moments and God things we avoided and things we experienced to get me here.
John M 33:53
Let me do a little break real quick. We will be continuing our conversation with Tom ah, in just a moment, just to reminder, you are listening to sober speak, you can find us on the worldwide web at www.soberspeak.com. You can also find the donate button on our website which you can use if and only if the spirit moves you to do such please keep in mind this is a podcast funded by you the listener. So now back to Mr. Tom. I so another thing that you brought up there just a little bit ago and I have a tendency to sometimes sometimes we go linear sometimes not. But you had mentioned one less wife. Yeah. So it sounds like you've been married a few times,
Tom H 34:39
Two times. Yeah. Now married for the third time now. This young lady I met in Alcoholics Anonymous. There's a whole story there that we've been married 31 years but together 35 been married 31 So Wow. So I don't know if I figured out how to do it. She and I say you want to try to get one more day we say yeah, let's try to get today was pretty good. Let's try it again tomorrow. I suppose I should talk a little bit about how my moment of clarity and how I admitted I was now calling let's go there. Christmas Eve 1983. Anybody that's old enough to remember that here in Dallas was a bad ice storm blimp. And my, my mother was going to be alone on Christmas Day. And so she was five above zero in Dallas, and an ice storm had blown in. My dad had died a couple years earlier. And there's a story there. That out of that desperation after my dad died, I was walking home from another car wreck separated from my second wife and walking home in the rain from a car I'd borrowed and wrecked it. And I'd called out the God, Why did you take my dad for me when I need him so much right now. And I suddenly had this knowing I said, this knowing that whatever power loud dad to stay sober was now available for me what it didn't realize I'd taken step one and two. Walking home that night. I didn't know anything about Alcoholics Anonymous, it'd be three. So I had an honest, desperate desire to stop drinking only took me three more years to get to Alcoholics Anonymous, for those three years never took a drink I wanted was absolutely horror. Because I knew I was drinking against my will. Fast forward 1983 I was transferred down to Dallas by the architectural firm I was with to do work down here, right where there's a church on one corner and a group on the other one I you know, God just trapped me when he sent me down. So I was going home to see my decided I'd go home, I had this old white station wagon. That was an old AMC Woody, you know, I just had 95 or 100,000 miles on matter of fact, I sold it to Shaffers for $95 the next year's guide or group. And so I was driving home on that, and in the snow under the ice. And there's 60 mile an hour wind blowing at me and I was driving into at 60 miles an hour. And it was five below zero and I got to Oklahoma border and 12 below 15 below zero and I got to Illinois, I could drive for about 45 minutes or an hour I'd have to stop put gas in the car, get hot coffee, wrap my hands and feet because a heater wasn't capable. And being an old Yankee, I had plenty of clothes in the car. So I get there about one. One o'clock in the morning I pull into Lincoln, Illinois where I went to high school. And my mom was there and I went in and we sat down and you know I was you know, it was still super cold. So I went and sat down and went to bed and all of a sudden I had this knowing I got up and I thought I was going to explode. So I just said God, please don't let me die. Mom got up. I went out in the pantry tried to find something to drink. All she had was an old bottle of wine that had been there longer had dust on it, which just I don't comprehend dusty liquor bottle, your wine bottle. But I chugged that half a bottle of wine and did nothing rushed me to the hospital wasn't having a heart attack. They figured I just Odede on all that caffeine. I was drinking plus, you know, had been a couple hours several hours since I had a drink. So it came back home. You know, it's so cold. You know how cold was it? It was so cold between Christmas Day and New Year's Eve of 1983. But I didn't know is that drink I took at 130 in the morning, a Christmas Day of 1983 was going to be my last drink. I didn't realize that. So from there to New Year's Eve, I went up to see this girlfriend. I hadn't Peoria, Illinois. I've been lived with off and on. There's another whole story there too. And so we were at her house and we decided to go to a New Year's Eve party again. 15 below zero. It was so cool. I didn't go out and get any alcohol.
Tom H 38:31
And so we're sitting in her house. And she says I want to go to this New Year's Eve party. She happened to pick up my wallet started thumbing through it and found this name of a young lady. And I've been telling her I wasn't unfaithful to her and I hadn't been drinking and suddenly she knew I was lying. And all of a sudden, I just went into fetal position on the floor and I couldn't lie anymore. And I told her I was drinking and I was being unfaithful. And I knew it wasn't a good architect. I wasn't a good husband. I wasn't a good father wasn't a good son. I was just a drunk. And I knew it to the bottom I soul and everything just scooped out on me. I was just sitting there cold on the floor. And I was kind of in shock. And so the next day we get up needless to say, I slept on the couch that night. Next day she said you want to go to church. I said sure. So we go to this church, she'd never been there before. Just once she happened to go to she doesn't usually go to church on New Year's Day. She just wanted to go this day. We pulled up it was a church I had designed when I had my architectural firm in Peoria. And she didn't know that I didn't know where she was going. We pulled in. You know she was an Al Anon there's a story there. She's an Al Anon I'm an alcoholic who always get there. 10 minutes late every place we go. And so we pull in and St. Pastors, Phil Mayer was there and he stopped the sermon when we came in. He says, Oh, what a glorious day our architect is back there right turned around said Hi, Tom. Hi, Tom. You know what, I'm still in shock. You know, and, you know, just as emotion goes all over me and I just couldn't say anything. So I sat down he returned Do a sermon his sermon that day was the longest distance in the world is a distance from your head to your heart knew exactly what he was talking about. knew exactly and it touched me and, and I started to cry and I couldn't get out of it. I went to my car, how to my car drove back to Dallas, Texas. That was on a Monday and Tuesday, I went to my first AA meeting. Wow. And so just you know, just that what if the what if the what if the what if, you know, what is it different church, but it was a different time what it was a different sermon? I don't know.
John M 40:34
Okay, so you do your first AA meeting? Yeah. Was it just all peachy from that time on?
Tom H 40:41
I can't say it was peachy. It was deliberate and, and linear. I would take my big book they gave the very first meeting was a Tuesday night, it was a matter of fact, one up there for the 630 meeting the intergroup sent me to the wrong club they sent me sent me to Dallas North instead of the one that had the 630 meeting. So I went up there and there some kids in the office and I said I'm here for the 630 meeting and says we don't have a 630 we have a six but don't go away. We have another one at eight. They sat me down one kid ran and got me a cup of coffee. Another kid ran and got me a big book and here says read this until eight o'clock. And a read where says you know, alcoholics or men or women that like, like drink because they like the effect produced by alcohol. They're restless, irritable and discontented. That's my whole life story. So I stayed for the eight o'clock meeting, picked up, gave me a jelly set. Like I said, my name is Tommy Hanahan. I guess I'm alcoholic. Everybody clapped, you know, yay. Really bizarre. And so from then on, and for probably the first couple years, I would you know, I still had my job, you know, so I show up my little three piece suit, you know, young businessman, and I'd show up and I'd hide hold my big book across my chest because I was afraid if I laid it down, I get drunk. I was afraid if I missed a meeting, I get drunk. I was afraid if I didn't do what you told me, I get drunk. And I had the gift of desperation. So I was desperate to do this thing. The job continued to go okay. And you know, and some of the prayers just start sitting in there. But I just immersed myself in Alcoholics Anonymous. I didn't know too many people in Dallas. So if I had nothing to do I just go sit at the club by myself sometimes, because the club is always open and it was safe. That's where I spent most of my time.
John M 42:25
So that was in 1983. That was
Tom H 42:27
we went right in early 84. Christmas 83, January of 84. Gotcha. And so
John M 42:32
what? So were you talk to me about your relationships at the time. So had you been married at
Tom H 42:43
that arc been married twice, I was separated from my second wife. There's a story there on a men's that that probably don't have time to go into but I was separated from her at the time I was down here that relationship with that woman, though, the girlfriend back in Peoria. I would I was living with her. Basically back in Peoria, her boss bought his business in Peoria, because he was from New Jersey and made her pregnant so he could come back and be with her because she was his girlfriend too. So whenever he was coming back to town, I have to move out. And then when he went back to Jersey, I moved back in. So that was my permanent relationship at the time. That was about as good as it got. You know, and so and so those relationships, were just, you know, I used to say what for my second wife left me, and rightly so, it's probably saved my life. And she left me because it forced me to my bottom and I had got a chance to share that with her last year. Last year, yeah. Okay, well,
John M 43:44
let's talk about that.
Tom H 43:45
Okay, I was at my daughter, and I got down here. About six or seven years later, my wife who was working for a hospital in Peoria got transferred down here by a new job that she'd taken. So she and my daughter come down to Arlington. And so you know, I moved to Texas, all my exes live somewhere else. I'm in Texas. Suddenly, one of my exes gets moved, you know, an hour away from me. So we start having this kind of relationship. We were at my daughter's birthday party, and 2019 I think it was 2019. The last time we were together. And one of her friends was there. One of my wife's friends and her friend's son opened a bunch of restaurants called the keg. And so she said, My son opened a new keg today. And so I joked me, so I've done that a few times myself, got a little chuckle out of people. My ex wife said, Well, Tom used to drink a lot. He didn't drink anymore, which led to a discussion about recovery or recovery. And so my wife was real quiet. And so, and I looked at her and she just told me to know what to do with you did nobody my family ever had that problem? We had no idea what to do with you in those days. And I said, Sherry, you probably saved my life when you left because, you know, brought me to my knees and got me in recovery. And I saw 25 years of confusion and guilt fall off of her in an instant. And I think that's the day I made my final amends to her. So it's really special. Yeah. Sweet. Yeah, it was good.
John M 45:08
Okay, so then let's go a little bit more after you've gotten sober up to that point. And we take me through any highlights, milestones, whatever you want to talk to me about within the steps during that time.
Tom H 45:23
I started. I didn't get a sponsor until I was about nine, eight or nine months sober. I got Rino John, he spoken. Yes. And he my sponsor. I don't
John M 45:32
know if you know this, but he's been on this podcast probably five, six times.
Tom H 45:37
So I would, he would call me around with him till he goes to do steps and things. And so I was the second person who sponsored the other guy was Wally P from from California. He'd be a great guy to get on there to Wally P. And he and I are both sober, both still sober. And so I hang around with Rino John and, and so I started getting in the habit of prayer. And so my job was going terrible. You know, the guy that was in charge of our office down here, I felt didn't like me didn't appreciate me. So I talked to my, you know, to John, my sponsor told him about that he says, Tom, you don't have job problem, which was a god problem in the area of employment pre about it. Same thing with my car, you don't have a car problem, which was a god problem, the area of transportation. You don't have a woman problem, which was a god problem in the area of relationships, pray about these things and see what kind of solution God has. So I call my friend back in Illinois who had hired me to that firm that sent me down here and he said, No, it's not your imagination. The partner didn't like you. This is not personal. He just didn't like he didn't like artistic designers. He's an engineer. He thinks that we architects are worthless, there's no need to pay us, as is not your imagination. So I started praying about that job. And the next day, I'd always had a copy of the Serenity Prayer hanging over my desk for 20 years, didn't know where it came from. And so next day, I went in inside, I said, God, if you want me to keep this job, I'll keep it. If you want me to leave, I'll leave. The next day I went in, it was okay. Nothing changed, but I was better. About two weeks later, I get a call from a classmate of mine that I happened to run into somewhere. And he was working for a firm in park City's the hoity toity part of Dallas. And he's worked with this firm, they were doing these big houses. He should drive around Dallas again. I'd love to though sometimes that would be so fun. We call me and asked me if I'd like to do some Moonlighting. I said, Sure. So I went and started doing a little moonlighting with them. And within another couple weeks, they offered me a job to be head with their residential design department during those big houses here in Dallas. His name was Jim auger, the name of his company was augur associates, my business card had a on it.
Tom H 47:54
So I had this old car, that one that had got finally gave to Bob sold the bomb, had this old car and it was you know, raking up. And so I needed another car. And I had a job when one of my jobs gave me a car to drive so I didn't need it. So that's when I sold it to Bob. And then I got late I did so good. They laid me off at that job. You know, the guy told me you're going great, but we can afford to have it done out cheaper. And so I needed a car. It was a guy named Wade are in Dallas north and he owned a used car lot. And he was going to do this new little building. So I said, Well, look, I'll do some architecture for you if you'll sell me a car. He said, Sure. So I went out there and did the work. And he said how much you want to pay. I said cheap or less. And so we went out back and there's this old black 1978 Oldsmobile 88 black on the outside black blue on the inside. And it was just like a pimp. mobiel It was great. I just loved it. So I bought this car. And he wrote up the paperwork. And he had to do it twice. Because he made a mistake the first time. So I remembered to this day, I remember sitting at his desk and it came out to $1,672 I managed to save just a little bit of money. So I wrote him a check for $1,672 I've been praying about a car. So back to my house there in the mailbox was a tax refund check for $1,672 Wow. You know, that's not drama. You know, it's not SWAT teams, that's when God says Tom, I'm taking care of the little stuff too. You know, God's personal. He's not only public, you know, with work through those that he's personally take care of. That's when I'm really amazed when he parks the Red Sea and calls down fire from heaven. You know, you expect that I don't expect him to give me a business card with a I don't expect him within a few weeks to give me the car that I drove from or that I just loved. You know, I don't expect those personal things but that's that's when God becomes real god of eating Mondays. What if God's not an idea What if God's real and not just an idea and changes everything? So I started expecting God to be real expecting him to respond to my prayers and it started to happen. And the little things to this day it's a little things it's completely overwhelming when he answers my little prayers.
John M 50:13
I'm sitting here looking at you face to face as you know why you're telling me your your story. And we're talking and I just, you know, I'm really first of all, I'm wrapped up in the words that you're saying. But also, you look so Irish credible? Yeah. You've got the what do you call a ready together? Ready
Tom H 50:37
scan? One of my clients is a red faced Irishman. That's me.
John M 50:44
You look like a tall leprechaun. very complimentary way
Tom H 50:50
in the white hair. Yeah, we've had white hair, our family, you're here goes white early, and I couldn't wait to win the winner. When I wear my black turtleneck. I call it my Irish poet. Look, it'll
John M 51:02
look. Okay, so let's then talk about your Okay, so you have a you know, there's a lot of people that are listening to this, like I said, all four corners of the world. And there are people that are they're struggling. Yeah. You know, I mean, they don't have 38 years or, you know, sober or 37 years sober in. It in they're thinking to themselves, well, yeah, that guy can talk. But you know, he's 37 years sober now. But I'm out here struggling. And so and I'm thinking about it from that person, though, that that's listening. Can you can you share any experience strength and help in that arena?
Tom H 51:50
Yeah, I tell young guys who I work with. Now, it's a lot easier to get 37 years in 37 days. You know, it's just, it's tough in the beginning, you know, you just have to change everything. And I just hang on to your backside with both hands and wait for the day to get over. And you just do. But one of the things I found out in my inventory, my first four step about fears, and John took me through that I suddenly, I was afraid of tomorrow, a fear tomorrow. Because tomorrow was going to be like yesterday and yesterday sucked. You know, so I presume tomorrow was going to suck too. So it was hard to get through that. And suddenly, I had a few days sober. Suddenly, I remember when I had 10 days sober. I was in this little sauna, the office building I was at I was working out a little bit and trying to get my mind together. And they said to be grateful for 10 things make a list of 10 things you're grateful for. And all I could think of was day 1-234-567-8910. And I stayed grateful enough to get day 11. And so this, I suddenly realized one day at a time, I believe a new past. You know, I hang on to this date. Now suddenly, when I look I've got 17 years of drinking, and seven days of sobriety. But I got seven days from which to project into the future now. And pretty soon that seven becomes 30. Presuming that 30 becomes 90. And what I do every day that I stay sober, gives me more opportunity and a higher probability of staying sober tomorrow. I say today is tomorrow's yesterday. So if I put a good day together today, I don't have to regret yesterday. Because yesterday was a sober day. And there's only one way through it one day at a time. Just don't pick up. Don't say don't drink, don't shoot any drugs and don't run off with somebody else's wife. And you'll make it through the day.
John M 53:46
Don't drink, don't shoot any drugs and don't run off with somebody else's wife.
Tom H 53:51
Yes. If you avoid those things, you might have a pretty good day.
John M 53:57
You got a good shot at tomorrow. Got a good shot at tomorrow. That's great. Well, listen, this is I've absolutely enjoyed our time so much. And I know that you had you know you're saying you're not really a technology.
Tom H 54:14
I still hand draw my stuff. I'm a dinosaur
John M 54:18
in I know you had not done a podcast before in New York. Okay, whoa, what is this? What are we gonna do here? Was it fairly harmless? Oh, it was
Tom H 54:26
great. I loved it. Good. Yeah, I love the conversational aspect of
John M 54:30
right now and I was kind of telling you before we started is kind of like when you tell your story and somebody kind of just hops up from the audience. He goes Whoa, can you answer some more about that? It's kind of a back and forth and I know you and Bob do I guess you'd call him workshops
Tom H 54:44
that well I don't know it just the two of us together did the steps together. We just call it kind of a tag team. You know, we just went to steal and cook we know each other so much. We can tag team of each other and and you know our two stories dovetail. It's like my wife. And I will say it between, you know, she's she's a half a person, I'm a half a person, the two of us together make a full person. It's kind of Shaffers and I the thing, the experience he's had I did not some of the experiences I had, he did not. So between the two of us, we pretty much get the whole base covered.
John M 55:15
And one of the things I didn't ask, When did you meet your wife in sobriety?
Tom H 55:20
She came into Alcoholics Anonymous. She and her husband, her husband came out of treatment, he came into Alcoholics Anonymous. She came in a couple weeks later, and I was sitting in a meeting and she had just won the Farrah Fawcett look alike contest at a local pub, you know, about a month earlier, and she walked in all dressed to the nines. And you know, and I'm from a farm town of 150 people in Illinois, and she walked in, he says, Oh, my God, total, we're not in Kansas anymore. This is the real deal. And so we met in a and ended up you know, if you've got time for one quick, yeah, you know, that we met in a and and it did
John M 55:56
work. Let me make sure I understood that. You said she came in with her husband. Yes. Okay. So explain that.
Tom H 56:02
Well, she and her husband were in, you know, the cocaine days, you know, on the run on high in Dallas and all the high stuff. And they were part of that they both came in. And, and so I got to be friends with her and him both. Matter of fact, he asked me to do some, I mean, he's still good friend of mine today, we call him my husband in law, you know, because we're, we're so close. We're all big, sploded family. But she came in. And so we started hanging out together a little bit and, you know, started growing and growing and growing. And pretty soon we were in this full fledged, you know, affair. You know, one of the things that Alcoholics Anonymous talks about, you know, and it gave the club something to talk about for a long time. Renal John, I got Reno and he says, Tom, you know, you know what's going on there, and I don't want to talk about it anymore. Don't call me about that. You know what to do. Don't call me about it. And so she isn't she ends up going to Florida with her husband. He was a real estate developer in the 80s. When that crash yet he and his partner moved to Florida. And so I came into club one night, and she had moved to Florida. You know, when your girlfriend runs off with her husband, that is not a good day, and. And so, but so I've just cratered. I was in this little apartment. And I've cratered. You know, once I was, you know, not knowing the carpet again, like I was the night I got sober. And I just got you got to take this, I can't take this one more minute. You know, I'm not gonna, I'm going to get drunk, you've got to take this. And I had another one of those knowings that moment, and I just, I just knew God was saying to me, Tom, if I want you to have this, there's nothing you can do to screw it up. If I don't want you to have it, you don't want it. I think that's a night I learned to turn my will on my life over the care of God. And I just waited one day at a time she moved back to town. They ended up getting divorced. We got back together. We've been married 31 years now. Wow. How am I use that same thing now in my business by go make a proposal on a big job. I'm an architect and a planner. And if I go with a, you know, contractor, we make a proposal on a big thing. If God wants us to have it, we'll have it if you're done, we don't want it. And so much peace comes from that. Yeah, my goodness.
John M 58:13
That's a great way to end it. I absolutely love that. Thank you so much for being drawn or Thanks, John. Thank you so much. I'm going to read from page 164, the big book closes out. It says abandon yourself to God as you understand God, admit your faults to him and to your fellows. clear away the wreckage of your past. give freely of what you find and join us. We shall be with you in the fellowship of the Spirit. In your surely me some of us like me and Mr. Tom, as you trudge the road of happy destiny. May God bless you. And keep up until then, once again, Tom, thanks for joining me. Thanks, John. Thank you, Tom. Ah, and just so everyone knows we already we I already have Tom H, scheduled to come back in here and do some more recording after the beginning of the year. And I am looking forward to seeing him again. Would you please do me a favor. If you enjoyed that and who didn't enjoy that? Pause your device and share this episode with a friend or family member. It may be just what they need today. And once again, Tom Ah, thank you so, so much. And now on to a little bit of listener feedback. First things first here, we're going to give you Mr. Chris, who who what did he do? Oh, he sent in a vote now sent in how do you say this? He recorded a voicemail and it is now in my possession and you get to hear it
John, this is you crispy from cleaner North just got done listening to your vacation story about Port Aransas and couldn't stop laughing You are officially a spiritual curmudgeon. Keep up the good work Brother Love you.
John M 1:00:14
Thank you Mr. Chris B. M and love back at you my friend. I think when he says spiritual chromogen first of all, I love that term. I think what Chris is referring to is when I was talking about my experience, import a and just basically kind of being a chromogen but I love that term. I think I was complaining about I don't know aquariums and stuff like that. I can't even remember what it was. But thank you so much for writing in or excuse me, sending in a voicemail, Mr. Chris B. Now on to miss Patricia and I absolutely love this particular bit of feedback. Patricia writes in and she says Hola, mi amigo. Cuanto Gousto in so lodder Turri psycho es cuando cada una de tu Ste, post caste e cinta Manteo our compa non dad de en cada paso de es de camino roseus. Well, I understood Hola, me, amigo. And I understood grace. Yes. And I believe Camino is a type of car in the United States. But nonetheless, I had to take that one to a translator, it will not not an actual real person translator, but to google translator. And Google Translator says this means Hello, my friend how glad I am to greet you. I continue listening to each of your podcast, in feeling accompanied every step of the way. Thanks. And I wrote a petition back and I said You're killing me here. How am I gonna figure out what this means is she said big laugh out loud. She was just I think she was laughing that she knew I would struggle with that tremendously. But Patricia, thank you for sending it. Patricia is a long listener of the program. But she says that she helps to learn English by listening to my silly podcast. Can you imagine? Think is great though. All right, summer writes in and she says Hi, John, can you please provide me the list that you were speaking about on the podcast? A list of members willing to speak at a Zoom meeting? Thank you summer. Yes. And I sent that out to your innovators. Anybody else out there who wants that list? Just email me John G Li Chen as silver speak calm. It's just a lot of people who've been on the podcast, who are willing to share their experience, strength and hope. And I can send you a list of their names and email addresses. It just be nice when you contact them. All right. James writes in and this one isn't titled amends. He's says Hey, John, this is James H. August 17 of 21. Memphis, Tennessee. I've written you before, and you read my email on your show. I really appreciated it, and hope that it helped or will help someone out there. Thank you so much for everything that you do. Your Podcast helped me help bring me back in. You are my Eskimo John. I'm currently going through my immense process and working steps 10 through 12. I heard on one of your podcasts a woman talking about oh, yeah, remember this abortions and writing letters to the children as a form of amends. That is something that I'm very much interested in because abortion is part of my story. I'm sure that many What's up buddy. Oh, dinner's ready. I'll be right down. Love you. Can I just say, Just say hi, everybody. Hello, everybody. It say? What else do you want to say? You just tell him that you are say I'm a great kid. I'm a great kid. Because my dad tells me because my dad tells me
John M 1:04:48
all right, I'll be done. Just Second. Okay, love you. Alright, so let me finish this up here. So I got caught. Oh, I'm going through my amends process working on 10 through 12. And he heard of somebody talk about writing letters as a form of amends. This is something that I'm very much interested in because a port abortion is part of my story said, I'm sure that men and women have different experience with abortion. If you know anyone who I could get in touch with to share their experience strangers who share their experiences, man or woman, I would greatly appreciate if they can email me at such and such he gave me his contact information. And I hope and then he says I hope very much to get to meet you in Reno, John face to face one day you both saved my life. Well, you can either come to our event that we're having James or you both saved my life. You know, every once in a while just read those things. And I'm thinking, did I just read that? Yeah, you know, um, I know, I didn't save his life. But gosh, just that even says, God bless you, James. Nonetheless, as you know, James, I got you in touch with Jenny, who was the one who talked about that on an episode and I got out of the middle and I'm sure you guys are are able to talk and I'm glad that she's able to share her experience, strength and hope with you.
John M 1:06:15
Thanks for writing in James. Scott B writes in discusses Hey, John, I just started listening. Thank you. I have been in and out of a for years. Your Podcast really helps me between meetings as I drive. I'm doing a step four right now. Thank you again, Scott. PS I live in Katy, Texas, but traveled to Dallas often. I will try to get to a meeting to meet you one day we'll come on down. Scott, we'd love to have you. And I'm glad that we can be of service while you're out there driving. Jackie writes If she says Hi John. I live in Minnesota on 21 days. A F think I know what the AF means. I think that means that AF Server. Anyway, she says I'm going through I'm going through an online program called reframe. It's the first program I've ever done and my first openly admit that I have a you d alcohol use disorder. I was a functional drinker. I've been listening to the program for the past few days. In various ones they're also insightful I will continue to listen well thank you and good luck in your program reframe I've not heard of it but I hope it helps. Christopher DMS on the IG that for you Uncle people means he wrote me a direct message on in the application of Instagram. He says Hey John, you're doing a great job I'm really enjoying the speakers that you source rich be and David G What can I say? Sending you love and greetings from your friends and service in Australia a my group is Saturday night Big Book of vision for you six o'clock in Oh, Karen's CSO hope I got the location right but anyway, Christopher thank you so much for writing in and hello to all the Aussies out there. And this is last but not least, and I got to get down to dinner. Hello, John. My name is Scott. Obviously I'm from Northwest Oh, obviously it guesses what he says. I'm from Northwest Arkansas. First I want to thank you for putting me in contact with Charlie p of Austin. We have talked and I am attending a Zoom meeting on Wednesday nights. I also enjoyed Emily, you Emily Hughes. Fantastic. If you haven't heard that, go back and listen to her. I believe her and I are probably from the same town or real close to each other as I grew up in North East Oh glow where the wind comes sweeping down the range in the heart of Cherokee Nation. I made him put the song in there. That was just me. Anyway, put love the podcast, I am lucky that I can listen to it during work. Rich B was great. I don't have much to say tonight. I do however have one thought at the end of each pod. Oh no, he's talking about not at the end of it. But at the beginning of it. You use the phrase take what you want, and leave the rest on the curb. So how my alcoholic minds work is if I take what I want, I'm going to take the easy stuff you know steps 123 And then leave the hard stuff. Steps four through nine on the curb. I understand what you're saying my friend, he says anyway, I by all means I'm not trying to tell you how to operate your show. This is one phrase I have never liked in my mind. It gives me an outlet for the things that I do not want to do. Anyhow, keep up the good work and I will continue to listen Scott was Scott from Northwest Arkansas. I get what you're saying I do I completely understand. Alright, All right, everybody. That is the end of UNO moss episode. Oh, hopefully we'll be back next week like I always say I take this one week at a time. God bless you. If you have anything that you need to write to me about John Jay Oh, Jen is super sweet calm. As always. I appreciate y'all listening, listening in keep coming back. It works if you work it