by Mark H.
If you need a break from perpetual pandemic pandering, then check out the 2010 movie “When Love Is Not Enough: The Lois Wilson Story” (YouTube it folks).
I DVR’d this from the Hallmark Channel a few months ago and enjoyed it. The title is a bit deceiving as the movie is as much, if not more, about Bill as Lois.
The plot starts in 1914 with Lois Burnham, a college-educated woman from an affluent family, falling in love with Bill Wilson, a 19 year old man of modest means. Lois is well played by Minnesota native Winona Ryder, Bill by Barry Pepper (the sniper in Saving Private Ryan).
The couple married in 1918. After his return from World War I, the two set out to build a life together. While Lois worked as a nurse, Bill struggled to find his niche. Lois believed that Bill was destined for greatness, and despite his increasing reliance on alcohol, she showered him with love and support (do you see AlAnon starting here?).
Eventually, Lois persuaded a friend’s husband to hire Bill at his financial firm. By 1927, Bill was working on Wall Street and the couple was living a luxurious lifestyle. But despite Lois’s efforts to control his drinking, Bill’s alcoholism spiraled out of control. Soon his job, their lifestyle and their dreams were all gone.
In 1935, after years of struggling to cover for Bill and trying desperately to manage his disease by herself, Lois finally saw him get and stay sober – not through her help, but from the support of a fellow alcoholic, Dr. Bob Smith, and working with other alcoholics.
This is the miracle mentioned in the Big Book where Bill laments to Lois that he’s working with all these alcoholics, but none of them stay sober. Here Lois wisely remarks, “well Bill, you’ve stayed sober!” Thus, the 12th Step and the rest of AA was born!
As Bill and Bob attained lasting sobriety and co-founded Alcoholics Anonymous, Lois began to feel neglected. Bill got and stayed sober without her help, and she felt isolated and resentful.
But, Lois soon discovered she was not alone in her isolation and anger, and that there was a vast number of people whose lives and relationships had been devastated because a loved one was an alcoholic or drug addict. To help herself, and others like her, she co-founded Al-Anon/Alateen in 1951.
If you need another AA fix in this time of quarantine and Zoom meetings, this movie is a nice addition to ‘living the sober life.’