Introductory Paragraph by Cutter Brandenburg
As of Oct. 13, 1988 A very special thing happened that saved the life of two of my good friends. Stevie Ray and Tommy Shannon went through the AA program and graduated clean and sober. Sobriety means something everyday for the rest of ones life. I am very proud of Stevie and Tommy and I know without this program we would have lost them both. Life has it's strange things and yes, our Stevie was taken a few years later. But not before all the guys had reclaimed the gift they had been given and appreciated all who stood by them and it was back to life and the music they all loved. Tommy goes each and every year and picks up a chip and I believe he use to pick up a chip for Stevie. I believe they have given Stevie a Life time chip and Oct. 13, 2006 / 20 years is a date that all should look at remember and appreciate what these very strong men had to get down to do. Sobriety is special, it allows those who make it to take back control and embrace those who love them and life itself. I for one as a friend can only again be in awe of my Buddies. I love them all and for one I see this date as a special day in their lives.
Below is a copy of Stevie's speech. I hope you take a moment and read all this and feel that life itself is a wondrous thing.
"Hello everybody. I'm Stevie and I am an alcoholic, and an addict and I too am nervous. I am sober today by the grace of God and that is the only way I know of. Everything I've done got me here. I know that ah, a lot of, a lot of what got me here was also the grace of God 'cause I couldn't have ah, couldn't have needed the questions or had the questions. I don't think that ah, that I try to find out the answers to these days, without the grace of God.
I started off my drinking and using career, oh I guess...early 60's, when I was somewhere around seven or eight years old. I grew up in an alcoholic family. My father was an alcoholic, and even though I saw the problems that alcohol caused in our family, I still found it attractive for some reason. I don't know what that was, I thought I was missing something. I was always a kid who was afraid I was gonna miss something.
Somewhere along the line, I started trying to ah, find out why my father would go back and continue to drink, even though every time he did I saw what happened, which was, big fights--you know, violence. We were always real scared of him. But he continued to do it anyway. I never, I never did understand what that was, until one day a few years later, I realized that I wasn't doing anything any differently other than making a little bit more money and I'd added a few drugs to it, you know. Ahmm, I guess about seven or eight years old, I started stealing drinks either ah...well, my parents used to have these, these "42" parties, and quite a few people would come over an' they'd be havin' their Tom Collins or whatever, you know. And when somebody wasn't looking, I'd take one of the drinks and run to the kitchen, you know, an' make them a new one. And ah, [laughs] refresh their drink, you know. It's just that I would refresh my memory about what it tasted like a lot of the time. I never really...I never really thought that it tasted very good or anything.
And then, then one day I tried, I tried to ah, make myself a drink out of my dad's bourbon that was in the freezer. It didn't taste very good either. I guess it was the wrong brand or something, I don't know. But somewhere along the line, I started finding that attractive somehow. About the same time, I went to an ear, nose and throat doctor who, it was general practice with him when, when you went in for him to take a look up your nose he would squirt you full of what I later found out was a strong solution of liquid cocaine. And I never really knew why my face was numb when I left there, and why I felt a little different, but I later on found out that I didn't know how to breathe without the stuff. 'Cause it was in the nose spray he gave me...the first bottle said 'use once every 24 hours', the second bottle said 'use two or three sprays every 12 hours', and
the next one said 'use as needed'. And...I did. [laughs]
But...I guess as I was going into junior high, it was when I started, when I really started to tryin' to drink. We had moved to Graham, Texas, and I really didn't wanna go...at all. Ah, I had, I had gotten into the first band that I really wanted to be in and really excited about it, and we had to move and I had to give up everything, including my way. We got to Graham and ah, my parents had told me we were gonna be there for about six weeks and that was...about six weeks into the sixth month that we stayed there. While I was going to school, actually the first day I went to school there in Graham, Texas just to show you what kinda...how much I liked it, I got kicked out of school three times the first day. [group laughs] And ah, I didn't even do anything...I just went to school, and they didn't like how my belt was, or they didn't like how my hair was cut, twice. And ah, I real quick found this guy that sold, that sold Alka-Seltzer bottles full of, full of sour mash, and I continued to find him every day you know, even though I didn't like how it tasted or anything, it just kinda helped me smooth along, you know. 'Cause there wasn't really anything I wanted there...I'd get beat up all the time and, and there wasn't anybody to play any music with.
We stayed there for about six months, and finally I just told my parents that I wasn't going back to school anymore. And that ended up being about the same time we moved back to Dallas. Back to Dallas for me was...I didn't realize what I was doing at the time, but really all I, all I really was doing here at the time was...well, I was trying to play music and everything but...but the main thing I was doing was hanging out with the kids down the street, and what they did all the time was see how they get high this way or that way, you know. And I thought that...all I was doing was just trying to be in with the people, you know with these kids.
What I was really doing was learning how to get high and stay high, all the time...and run away from what was going on. Which was ah...I guess what was going on really was that ah, you know people grow up and they learn things about livin' life an' ah, and grow. I didn't ah, that never dawned on me, I just thought you just kinda went from day to day an' you got older and then things happened and you graduate and...or quit school, or whatever. At any rate, I learned ah...I just learned how to bag glue and how to, how to figure out this pill was this kind and this was that kind an'...if you hit real hard on this joint you might get a buzz, usually I was scared to do though, at the time. The thing was, is...that was the only thing I knew how to do. The only thing I knew how to do, was just try to, try to get by, every day. I wasn't really learning anything about livin' life.
There was really no information at home. 'Cause I couldn't...it was pretty violent at my house, I couldn't go and ask my dad about things. Ah...I couldn't go ask my dad about, about school, or about girls or about anything, 'cause it was ah, it was pretty much "you're supposed to know that stuff on your own"...or "just leave me alone." "Is that your stuff?...get it out of the room", you know. So I ah...I just continued to try to find out things from the kids down the street. That wasn't the way to really go--I didn't know that.
What I did keep learning though, was about, was about bands and what...not to blame my drinking or anything on bands, but I sure learned a lot about it there. [laughs] 'Cause that was-- and still is--unfortunately in a lot of places, that's where a lot of the myth about "it's real neat to get high", or "real cool to get high." That's where I learned a lot of it. 'Cause a lot of the people I really looked up to really knew how to drink and really knew how to get high. And along with every time I would get in a better band it seemed like there were better drugs. [laughs] And ah, a better brand of gin, or whatever, you know. And I lways thought I had to keep up...I just thought I had to keep up. Why that was, I don't know. I would see ah, I would see someone, who I really cared about and know that they...this is a pattern that's gone on most of my life and I still don't understand why it's attractive to me, or has been.
I would see someone who I really cared for and loved and that they couldn't do anything unless they were shooting something, and I would see that it would be literally killing them...and that would be a good reason for me to try it. I don't know...I don't understand that. That's what...that's the pattern that I've developed. I saw it with my father, I saw it with very close friends and I've seen it with people who are no longer alive, you know. I'm glad to say I am not doing that any more...because there was a stage in my life where I got into experimenting. Not like I thought experimenting was in the first place, but 'what happens to you if you do this much?', you know.
There was a time in my life when a normal day would be to pull out whatever I could get my hands on and do it all at once. It wasn't 'do it till it was gone', it was 'do it all right then'. And it would be enough to kill somebody. But for some reason, that was what I did. And I would sit there and go, 'well this is what happens', you know, and stay alive somehow. And I got it in my head that, that was ah, I don't know somewhere along the line I got this verse, or it's not even a verse, it's just something in the Bible, where ah, in the last days, people would be trying to kill themselves and can't.
And that's what I thought I was doing, I think. For some reason I thought I couldn't die. I guess that's that Superman deal that we get. Through the years, all this progressed and I just got to where ah, everything I was doing was on a road to killing me. The only thing that I was doing that wasn't destructive was trying to play music. I still cared about someday finding something that meant something to me...inside...and with another person or with other people.
I still cared about growing somehow. But, bit by bit, all of that was all going somewhere in the past where I couldn't reach it anymore. It was like ah, it was like something I couldn't reach anymore...something that I just could dream about. And the things that I was doing every day were more like a trudge just to keep, keep going, because I didn't know how to stop anything I was doing or the predicaments I was in. Then one day about, close to three and a half years ago, I started realizing that I could not live on the way I was going, but I could not stop either.
I didn't know how to stop, and I knew that I couldn't keep going. That was a real strange place to be, for me...'cause I literally could not imagine the next day without a big bag of dope and a several bottles of whiskey. I thought that ah, literally what I thought was that I would go on doing that until I died, and then it would be a lot better, because I wouldn't have to deal with it anymore. And in my mind that seemed like a real good solution. Because I wouldn't have to deal with it anymore, but the people that I was mad at would. I don't know why that seemed so neat to me. I don't know why I was that mad at people, you
I guess I was probably mad at myself-that's really what it was. 'Cause to be honest, at the time I thought those people were really trying to get revenge on me, or whatever. And that's why they did the things that they were doing. And really, the truth of the matter was that I was just trying to get revenge on people that I couldn't understand, you know.
But instead of doing it till I died, what happened was ah, I collapsed...and just gave up. It was...it was funny, 'cause I saw it coming for a while. And the reason that I wouldn't let go and give up that fight in the first place is because of what other people would think. You know, what they would think, not that ah, they would find out that I was getting loaded or not that they would find out how bad off I had gotten, but that they would think that I was weak...because I gave up. And ah, it took a lot to find out that that was the stronger thing to do...was to say "I can't do this anymore...
I have to live instead of die." So I woke up...I got up and went to a friend of mine's hotel room and I sat there shaking, and said, you know, "this is what's going on" and ah, they called me an ambulance, and we were in Germany at the time and we, we went to this hospital and ah, somehow, somehow I got the nerve to get out of that hospital, real quick, because ah, I thought it was kinda strange, they kept asking me questions and then would ignore me when I answered them. And ah, then it dawned on me that they were speaking German. [group laughs]
No wonder they weren't listening, you know? [laughs again] I did get out of there, and went to ah, it was a couple of days later, but I ended up going to a hospital, going to see a doctor in London. He was someone that I'd heard of that I knew that could do, could do some good and give me some help. And he put me in a hospital for a few days and ah, just kinda looked out after me for a little bit...while he basically detoxed me. I said basically detoxed me 'cause the guy didn't have that, that conventional of an idea of detox. It was ah, if I needed, if I really needed a drink I could have one. If I really thought I really needed a drink he thought I should have one, within about a five day period. Because he, just the way he looked at it and the way he told me was "if you've been drinking for 25 years, you're not gonna stop in a minute." Instead of giving me phenobarbital or whatever it is they usually give you, he gave me...he said, he just said "you can go have a drink really need one over the next five days."
And in fact he gave me, he gave me a drink on my birthday, which was in the hospital...little bitty cup of champagne. What really happened after that was I got out of the hospital and flew back to the States to go to treatment, and I tried to get drunk on the plane. It didn't work. It didn't work. And what I had done was, I went, this is pretty funny to me...I went to my mother who...she had come over to see me in the hospital...I called her up and said...I called her and my girlfriend and said "Look, I'm in the hospital and this is what is going on".
They both were there the next day. And I am real grateful for that, it means a lot to me. We were on our way back over to the States and I'm sitting there next to my mother and I didn't have any money so I borrowed $20 to go buy some cigarettes on the plane, and she knew there was no machine [laughs], you know. [group laughs] I went and tried to find out how many Crown Royals I could get, you know. And ah, there is never enough.
I learned that a long time ago there's never enough dope and there's never enough to drink. There's either too much or not enough, you know. There is never just enough. But I ah, I went and tried, anyway. And I went back and felt, I found that I felt guilty already. I am real good at the guilt, you know. I went straight back to the seat and sat down next to her, you know, like, "this is the seat and sat down next to her, you know, like, "this is the seat and sat down next to her, you know, like, "this is what I did", you know.
And she went "I kinda knew that." the seat and sat down next to her, you know, like, "this is what I did", you know. And she went "I kinda knew that." And ah, anyway, we went back, we got, we got...we landed and ah, I went to a hotel room and stayed there till the next day...went into treatment. I didn't expect to find out in treatment that that was one of the coolest places I'd ever been. That's what I found out, you know. It wasn't ah, what I thought it was gonna to be at all. I went through the regular stuff, you know... "what if they find out I'm in here...who's 'they'"... you know. [laughs] And...and I don't wanna be here and all, and all that stuff, but once I, once I got...once I started paying attention to what was goin' on in treatment-to the recovery-it's been something that I've really wanted ever since.
I've not always been real good at sticking to a good strong program. I was just trying to fix something else up to look the way I want it to look, or to be the way I want it to be...instead of working my way into livin' life. But what I found in treatment was the same thing that I find in a meeting when I'm in the right place in my heart at a meeting, and that's a bunch of people trying to help each other live life, and grow in it. It's always been something that I've wanted to know about and it's always been something that I've wanted to do. It's not always been something that I've done. Sometimes I don't even know what 'grow' means. But it's something that ah, I find every once in a while...I find growth. And then I feel like me.
If that's not where I'm at, then I feel like a shell, with a bunch of static going on. That's really the way I feel. I know in the..in the program...with AA, I've found the only real lasting happiness that I've ever had. And it lasts, whether I can really reach it or not. I don't know if that makes sense to you or not, but I know that it's there, even though I can't always feel it. Because I know it's not out of...it's not out of something that I've made or bought, or conned somebody out of. It's something that's bound to be real. And I see it... I see it when I see other people come out of a real hard place to be, into a more comfortable place with themselves. I know that must be growth. It's not just a new pair of boots or something, you know?
The hardest things I have learned so far, I guess, is probably letting go of my own way, getting my own way...other people acting the way that I think they should act, or looking the way that I think they should look. I'm not out of that yet. It's just...that's my way, you know, and my way is not the right way necessarily, at all. And it's hard to admit that. It's hard to admit that I don't know it all...that's what I used to think. I used to think that if it wasn't done my way, that it was completely wrong and it couldn't be anything close to right because you just didn't know. I know it's kinda, it's...sometimes I found out that it's real comfortable not knowing everything... not knowing anything, in fact.
It's funny, I'm real uncomfortable saying that right now. [laughs] That's the truth! I don't know, I just know that it...when I come to meetings, when I take the time to pray, and to listen, and to take a look at myself, and try to change that I grow. And when I try to offer that to someone else I feel better, and then I don't have any need to drink, or to take any drugs.
And if that's what this program does, if that's all it does, then it's helped me a whole lot. 'Cause that's all I used to know was drinking and using drugs. It's really all I knew. 'Cause I didn't know how I felt and still don't always know how I feel. A lot of times I ah, still find myself confused about what I think and what I feel. I don't know the difference very often. And that's a scary place to be a lot of times.
But slowly, day by day, that's working out, it's working out for the better. It's been ah, about three and a half years I guess, close to three and a half years since I've had to drink. And it struck me New Year's Eve that to go and do what I had to do New Year's Eve was a lot different this year than I'd noticed it being in the past, you know. Couple of years ago it was like this, last year it was kind of a daze. I was sick but it was kind of a daze.
This year I was actually happy to be alive and noticed that I didn't have to be high to be up till five in the morning, or whatever it was, you know. And that I could look out and, and realize that I was starting a new year, with new things to try to do...new things to try to care about. And one of them was me, and one of them was y'all, and what I'd do with my life. Commitments, you know.
Commitments has been another thing I that I'd never been very good at in my life. Oh, I can get caught up in something real good, you know. I can get caught up in the mirror, combing my hair, you know. Or ah, [sighs] whatever. But commitments had not been something that I'd been very good at. 'Cause I was more scared of making a commitment than I was following it through. Then I realized I am still alive now and, that's... that's an amazing thing to me. When I was 17, I thought I wouldn't make it to 21. When I made it to 21, I thought something was...something's up, you know? [laughs]
You know, 'what's going on here?' [laughs] Ah, when I passed 30, I thought something's wrong. [laughs] I don't know it's...I'm just glad to be alive today...glad to be alive today. I don't know, I don't have a whole lot to say about anything, other than knowing that if I let this program and if I let God do what He's gonna do in my life, through you, or through whatever...that it's a whole lot better than I ever could have done it myself before I came to this program. I thank y'all for letting me be here with you. Whether I know what to say about it or not, it means a lot to me, and I thank you, okay?