Posts Tagged ‘Step One’
Since around the time that my mother’s cancer got bad, perhaps even longer, I have not been the same, haven’t been myself and have been way off center. I haven’t felt right or been acting right and suddenly that awful trajectory has slipped into overdrive. When you are a recovered alcoholic and you find yourself lost or in a tailspin there is just one thing to do, start over at Step One and walk all the way through, this time do it better, if you think you did it with a willingness to go to any lengths, go farther. Go to more meetings and get a new sponsor.
It is my intention to do all of that starting right now, before I am lost and hopefully better with greater abandon and willingness to surrender than any time before so I don’t have find myself back this far again. As part of my meditation and conscious contact, I will try to write something, hopefully with Gratitude every day. When I am focused on a step, I will write about it. I won’t publish my (next) fourth step here, but I will talk about it.
We admitted we were powerless over alcohol— that our lives had become unmanageable
4.6 years or 1684 days ago, I was without exaggeration dying. Having one fat bloated foot in the grave and the other in pool of whiskey. I was an alcoholic of the hopeless variety and at 34 I had an illustrious drinking career spanning almost two decades. I had tried to moderate, tried to quit and tried to deny my problem, sometimes I even acknowledged I was an alcoholic, but didn’t think that was a problem. I couldn’t see how it was destroying my relationships, my mental or emotional state, or care about how it was killing me. So, yeah by the letter of it, I know Step One for a fact everyday.
That said, if you aren’t paying attention the fine print between the lines of Step One can be overlooked, forgotten or ignored. At nearly five years sober, I alternate between understanding and forgetting that my powerlessness over alcohol is almost the least of my problems (because I have no desire to drink today), because there is a list over things, which stacked end to end could reach to the moon and back, that I am also powerless over and unable to do shit about. Just like continuing to drink or trying to conquer it without God’s help, continuing to try to have power over any item on this list will make my life unmanageable.
What am I powerless over? In short form it is:
People: Examples, My stepsons Autism, his attitude and his choices (when I’m not around). I cannot make my friends sober, or make them do things that are good for them, I cannot make my wife work out, take medicine or go to the doctor, I don’t get to choose for other people and I CAN judge them, but it will only make me unhappy and less useful to them.
Places: Examples, Can’t change systems or my very much about my place in them. Schools, Courts, Work, Police, Creditors all operate and have the authority they do and I will not be able to overcome that
Things: Stuff breaks, cars die, houses are in their state, money is never abundant enough, traffic goes however it goes, rain, sleet, snow, heat. I have power and authority over absolutely none of these things and that is just how it is, no amount of fear or worry, or rage or pleading or pleasing is going to make that change.
and my life has become unmanageable
Because for nearly five years I have been prone to distraction and dropping out and holding back, my life, while so much better than it was before, is not managed like it should be today. I have multiple lawyers pursuing me financially and have met suddenly with around between 12 and 17 thousand dollars that absolutely must be paid out to creditors and taxes in the next 8 months or so and I am sure that my ex wife will be following suite since she isn’t getting payments. Almost comically I am in jeopardy of losing a fucked up mess of a house that I don’t even have a mortgage on because I have neglected to pay the taxes! Holy shit, who does that?
Someone, who is seriously ill, who has a program of recovery that works miracles, has worked miracles for him, but who has held back and hasn’t been paying attention in class because he is a terminal fool.
My life is no longer unmanageable because of alcohol, but because God talks and I don’t listen, or I am too afraid to do what is right, or speak up or take charge. Fear, Fear, Fear, Fear, Fear until I am tired of being afraid and lash out with anger, upsetting everyone and thinking I can control everything. I am it seems at times a farce, a comical exaggeration of a man.
With a powerful need to escape all of this, I will drop to my knees today and say unto the Teeth Mother, the other Sacred Muses and the Word, my own Step One
I admit that I am powerless over alcohol, other things, people and places and having forgotten that, have made my life entirely unmanageable; I am lost and adrift and will not find my way alone.
Step One: The Prodigal son comes home, having made a mess on his own.
“We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable” AA – Step One
To keep it simple, this had to be the step and it is the right words to use, but to me, like many other alcoholics, there is a good deal more that is brought to mind and rings true. I am powerless over alcohol and many, many other things, like Depression, Anger, Resentment, Self Will, Laziness, Excess, Fear. The list goes on and on like that.
Though I have not had drink in close to 3 and a half years, I have no more power over alcohol today than I did when I was drinking and it takes more strength that I have on my own to keep from picking up the next drink. It takes more strength and wisdom than I possess on my own to keep doing the right things and to have the right attitude; to be myself and the best self that I can be.
I forgot all of this and even once I remembered it took so long for me re-commit to the program of recovery that I entered three years ago. That said, here I am once again and I am grateful that it has been there waiting for me, that I have AA and a higher power.
I am starting over, right here at Step One and as my form of meditation, I am going to write my way through each of the steps, as I started to once before and I hope that this time I make it through all of them before I choose to start over.
So, is Step One really?
Step One is really the admission of our own humanity, the first of many humbling steps in AA. When we contemplate and work on Step One, we come to examine the human and self efforts that we have put forth in the past and acknowledge a few things:
1. Alcoholism is a disease, it is an “allergy”. Alcoholics process alcohol differently than other people and it simultaneously does more cellular damage in us and produces a powerful and urgent need for more. It is also a disease of the mind, producing obsessive thinking, so that even when the physical craving is not present the obsessive craving is. The disease also has effects that a broad reaching; inebriation as an avoidant coping mechanism is psychologically and spiritually unhealthy and all manner of moral/character defects spring from it, stunted mental and emotional growth, anxiety, mania, self absorption, grandiosity, guilt, shame, self loathing, depression, sexual misconduct, poor hygiene, poor life and relationship skills, control, self seeking…the list goes on an on. This is how, ultimately, it makes life unmanageable.
2. We are powerless over this disease and ultimately over the defects of character that have resulted from it. We can never, drink like normal people do. If you have been in the program a while, you might see that we are powerless over almost everything. Nothing is truly in our control, except, our decision to put the right effort into our own selves. This is not to say that we are weak, by any means, we are talking about recovery from an otherwise incurable, physical, psychological and spiritual disease. Could I go the rest of my life and not pick up a drink, maybe. I am firm in my belief though that I would likely still suffer the miserable side effects of the disease without a spiritual and task driven program like this one. If anyone has found something better, I encourage them to do that instead.
3. Our “running the show” has left our lives a wreck, whether it is the very tangible consequences of not unpaid bills, criminal charges and failed health, or simply strained and ruined relationships, we have not only poured ourselves a pool of terrible hell and misery to bath in, but we have splashed it upon others.
If we are alcoholics and it has taken the usual amount of time for us to find our way to AA (without court orders), we are typically ready to listen, understand and admit, having tried everything else, controlled drinking, switching brands, types and times, following systems of rules, abstinence on our own, therapy, rehab, etc..etc..that we are powerless over alcohol.
For me, right now, the second part is bigger…My life had become and remains unmanageable, why? Because for the last year and a half, the manager of my life has really been poorly qualified and wholly inept, we cannot fire him, but he does need demoted. That manager is me, I have been trying run the show, which keeps me too busy to work the steps and leads me to do nothing but give myself the opportunity to make poor choices, which invariably I make.
My name is James, I am an alcoholic. I am powerless over alcohol and my life has become unmanageable. This has been my first step (take two). Thank you for sharing it with me. I look forward to sharing my journey through the steps, as well as my experience, strength and hope with the world.
Not only am I powerless over alcohol, I am powerless over alcoholic thinking and alcoholic action. I am powerless over alcoholic pride, alcoholic resentment and anger, aloholic fear and lashing out. I am powerless over a great many things, some of which some more stringent AAs might call outside issues, but I scarcely believe in those, all of it is related in some way to the core disease of alcoholism. I thought I knew this before, but if I didn’t I know it now. It may sound counter-intuitive to some, but that single admission, that you are powerless is relieving and like having a great burden lifted off my shoulders. Admitting that there is something more powerful than you, that you cannot handle alone is hard, but worth it and really the first step toward believing there is something more powerfull than you, that can help you too.
I have just begun, I am not well or right yet, but already I am becoming more conscious of my thinking and action. Admonishing myself in my head when my thoughts are not what they should be and looking outside of myself for help, being as grateful and accepting as I can. I will get there, AA, the steps, a higher power and Kim’s love and support will help me.
Here is in summary, what I said in a meeting recently. I stopped going to meetings, decided I could do it on my own and for a time it seemed to be okay. I realize that during that time there was nothing to test me, there was stress of course, but I had nothing, nothing of value that I could risk or lose. I was living in my friends’ basement and had nothing in my life to cherish. Then, I fell in love with this woman (Kim) and her two kids, for the first time in my life I have a family and so when things got tough again, I had something of value to lose and because I wasn’t working the steps, going to meetings and doing what i needed to, I reacted like a monster, I screwed things up, making bad things worse and I almost lost what I had gained. My life is unmanageable and though I never drank, I might as well have.
I am glad to be back in meetings and working the steps. I know I have just completed step one, step two promises to be more difficult, but I will get there and this time I will not stop working the steps, I will be restored to sanity and do my best to have my defects removed.