Step One

Photo credit: Sven Fennema

Photo credit: Sven Fennema

I am 6 months sober, have been attending AA meeting for several months and have very recently partnered with a wonderful sponsor.  It’s time to give AA a proper chance because I’ve realized that if I’m going to have long-term success with my addiction, I need to do things differently.

It’s time for me to tackle the steps.  I plan to chronicle my step work, mostly because I need to write thoughts down to properly work through a concept.  My ADHD mind does not retain thoughts for long, so having a written account of my process will help with my overall success.

Step One: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.

Advice from sponsor: take time to have an honest conversation with yourself about this statement. If, at the end of the conversation, you don’t agree with pieces of it, that’s fine; just be honest and critical. You really want to nail the first step. You’ll come back to it over and over, but for less and less time.

Am I powerless over alcohol? I am, once I start drinking. I feel a certain amount of power over alcohol when I am choosing to not drink. When I’m at a bar with friends and I’m the only one sipping club soda, I feel strong, as though I hold power over alcohol.

But once I make the decision to buy a bottle, I lose all power. I started countless days resolved to not drink. By noon, I was in the checkout line at the liquor store. I somehow justified it to myself, so that I wouldn’t feel the guilt and shame that I would feel later, after drinking half the bottle.

Was my life unmanageable? This is where my sponsor’s advice is needed most. I believe the answer is “yes” but because I put on a good show for the world, I convinced myself that I was functioning. Compared to other people’s stories, I was functioning.

I went through the process in an earlier post of reminding myself that I truly wasn’t functioning.

Ways in which my life was unmanageable:

  • Work I: the first job I lost due to alcohol was as a business owner. I was abusing alcohol to manage the stress of business ownership. This is when I started drinking at work, justifying it because I was the boss. My active alcoholism kept me from being able to hold onto the business. I wasn’t proactive about anything in the business, just reacting to each fire as they came up. With a clear, alcohol-free mind, I would have made better business decisions and likely would have lasted more than 1 1/2 years. Pathetic.
  • Work II: the second job I lost because of my drinking ending in a blaze of embarrassment and humility. I’ve told the story here. That episode started my longest stretch of sobriety since I began drinking: 7 months.
  • Work III: my current job is a good, solid job. And I nearly fucked it up because I was drinking every day. I did this 4 years straight. I had to admit my “problem with alcohol” to my boss after a particularly dreadful workday filled with vodka. I am tremendously lucky I wasn’t fired. Sadly, it wasn’t enough to push me into sobriety; it took another 5 months of denial before I took another step towards sobriety.
  • Social: I have had no social life to speak of for the past 12 years. Whether I isolated to protect the drinking, or if I drank to cope with the isolation, I was alone. My only social contacts were family: husband, parents, sister & her family, in-laws. 100% of my interaction with family was spent either drunk, too hung over to drink (otherwise I would have), and/or completely preoccupied with how I was going to get my next drink.

… I feel as though this list is not even close to being complete.  It’s a work in progress.

Ways in which my life was manageable:

I created this heading when I first structured this post, thinking I would list various aspects of my life within 2 categories: manageable and unmanageable. Once I spent the time listing my unmanageable pieces, I was stumped to come up with 1 aspect about myself that was manageable.

Verdict: my life had become unmanageable and I am powerless over alcohol once I take the first drink.


2 thoughts on “Step One

  1. Congrats! It’s always nice to hear that someone has stopped hurting themselves by drinking and drugging and getting their lives back on track. If you ever need anyone to talk to I’m here to listen to you. I’m nearing 18 months in sobriety and it’s so nice to have my life back, and to be doing the right thing and making more positive choices in life for myself so I can be the best mother I can be.



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