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  • Founders’ Day: Stefano’s Reflection

    By Stefano, Renascent Alumni

    My name is Stefano, and I am an alcoholic addict.

    On the night of June 6, 2015, I looked up at the sky and told God that tonight he would have to strike me dead. In a few moments I was going to head down to the Village, use, party and play really until God took my life, or I mine. Within minutes of using the psychosis was back. Convinced the police and community were out to get me I fled the place where I used. Terrified of being “watched” I turned myself in when I saw a police car. The police officers told me there was no warrant out for my arrest. I then went into a police station, and they asked me to leave. After that, I flagged down another police car down that at my request, took me to Sunnybrook for lock-down. There I wrote out a confession, gave it to the nurses, and asked them to fax it to the police so they can come get me. I remember a doctor remarking, that no one wanted to punish me, as much as I wanted to punish myself. I would then be given drugs that would keep me knocked out for a week, until finally on June 15, 2015, I would arrive at the Renascent Madison Centre. There I stayed for the month until I came back out July 13, 2015.

    Renascent a gift from God

    Renascent saved my life. On my 50th belly-button birthday (July 8th) I would be introduced to the OISE Morning Discussion Group and Alcoholics Anonymous for the first time. The Renascent councillors told me that I had to try something different in  order to recover – Alcoholics Anonymous. Having acquired the gift of desperation, I now only wanted to follow direction, without questioning it, so I did as I was told. I am forever grateful for where they directed me.

    My Love for AA

    The next year would have me doing AA meetings every morning Mondays – Fridays 6:50 – 7:30 a.m., right before I would go to work. The Big Book and the Came to Believe meetings transformed me. I remember being in a Big Book meeting where we were reading, A Vision for You, which talked about the beginnings of AA when something miraculous occurred within me.  As I followed along and read the lines on Page 161 paragraph 1 “Alcoholics are being attracted from far and near. From surrounding towns, families drive long distances to be present. A community thirty miles away has fifteen fellows of Alcoholics Anonymous. Being a large place, we think that someday its Fellowship will number many hundreds” I wasblown away by the 1935 miracle of what had actually happened. Somehow in my mind, and soul I had travelled back to 1935, and when following along in the reading, I was actually feeling Bill’s writing in the Vision for You chapter. Suddenly I travelled back to our time, and then I was suddenly hit with the magnitude of the miracle – of AA and all the other 12-step fellowships we now have. I cried at the realization of what had happened, of what I had suddenly found myself being a part of. AA is a real gift from God. I was grateful.

    Founder’s Day, Akron, Ohio

    Stefano outside of Dr. Bob’s home in
    Akron, Ohio.

    During the 2nd year of my sobriety, I suffered a terrible loss when a primary relationship fell apart. I felt lost and alone and prayed to God, who directed me to 90 meetings and 90 days.  That would lead me back to The Morning Discussion Group where I would meet fellow-alcoholics who would invite me out on a road trip to Akron, Ohio for Founder’s Day. I accepted and went.

    I cannot tell you how profoundly affected I was when I arrived, and  we went to Dr. Bob’s house. There I would see the room where Bill Wilson visited, the old writings of the Big Book, the beds the founders slept in and an old typewriter, where they had typed pages of The Big Book. There was also big “Welcome Home” banner.  I felt the welcoming spirit of our founders welcoming me home. I was then graced with learning about Dr. Bob. I learned that Dr Bob had been given the nickname “Prince of the Twelve steps”, because Dr. Bob would offer his home free of charge from 1935 – 1950 until he passed, to suffering alcoholics, always carrying the message forward. The service that the pioneers of AA have put forward, before I was born was now saving my life.

    Then, I suddenly realized that June 10th is the day AA celebrates its birthday – just three days after my Dry date. I happily promised myself that I would always come back to Akron annually and be a part of AA’s birthday celebration. I would when in Akron go to Dr. Bob’s house, to Dr Bob’s memorial service on the Sunday and always give thanks to the Founders, Sister Ignatia and everyone in Akron who started us out. In my heart and soul,  I know Akron is where the first heartbeat of our Fellowship happened. Akron in my future would become where I would pray and give thanks for my annual sobriety milestones. I went back to Akron in 2018 and 2019. In 2020 when COVID hit I attended virtually. This year, I am going too. I am grateful.

    Stefano recognizing Founder’s Day in Akron, Ohio

    My Love for Akron, Ohio

    Words cannot describe how I feel about AA, Bill Wilson, Dr. Bob, Anne Smith, Sister Ignatia, Lois Wilson, Dr. Silkworth. I believe God wove all these people and places together to orchestrate a tapestry of love for people lost in life, by alcoholic, addictive circumstances, by self. In my heart I believe Akron, Ohio is the heartbeat of AA. By going down every year I learn something new about our history, our people, myself, and the rich legacy – the inheritance we have all been left with.

    In Akron, I thank God and everyone there for my life. In 2019 I took my Step 3, in Dr. Bob’s home, in the very room, other long-ago recovering alcoholics would stay in, and once took their Step 3 in, while being nurtured back to health, and sponsored by Dr. Bob and Anne Smith. This tradition dates back to the 1930s and I, being one who loves tradition, find myself immediately connected to the Fellowship of our Spirit when I go home.

    Thank you so much for offering me an opportunity to be of Service to you with the Renascent publication, TGIF.

    About the Authors

    Alumni
    Members of Renascent's alumni community carry the message by sharing their experiences and perspectives on addiction and recovery. To contribute your alumni perspective, please email alumni@renascent.ca.