I’ve decided to do a sort of Step Study on my blog. I plan for this to develop over time to hopefully assist others in understanding my journey and perhaps help someone who is still suffering. In no way do I claim to be a representative of any organization or fellowship, these words are simply my own which tell of my personal journey.
“We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.”
These words are read in countless rooms in countless locations about the Globe daily. More than 2 million people hear these words in these rooms. To a large number of these 2 million people these are the first words they hear in their minds eye in the mornings.
This is Step 1.
This is where I began once I became sick and tired of being sick and tired.
The first thing noticeable is the first word.
We are not alone; this is not a solitary solution. The disease of alcoholism often wants me to be alone, to feel lost and without support or hope.
Look at those words in Step 1, how could I possibly face accepting that I’m powerless over alcohol? It is merely a beverage which I drink, I’m better than that! Never admit defeat! My life wasn’t unmanageable, I had a career, I was a Mother, Wife, owned a home, cars……justification after justification.
My ego was larger than my understanding of what a full, rich life was for a very long time.
When the day came that I attended my first 12 step meeting I sat in a chair near the door and shook. As the meeting got underway I didn’t make eye contact with anyone, I quickly passed the topic notebook when it came to me and I wallowed in the failure which was my life.
Tears fell silently down my face as people began to share their thoughts on the chosen topics. Through these tears I listened to hear the magic words which would educate me, the words which would teach me to be “normal” again.
The words weren’t given, there was no course outline.
Repeatedly these happy people were referring to what they’d read in the book on the table. It must be in the book! The steps they read out loud at the beginning of the meeting must be in the book, there’s the key!
At the end of the meeting I bought the book and made a hasty exit. That night I sat and read this book from cover to cover, highlighting passages and taking notes.
Convincing myself I’d absorbed it I vowed never to drink again and closed the book.
For the weeks following I didn’t drink, I cannot remember exactly how long it was until my next drink but the intention was to have a beer or two in the afternoon with Hubby while working in the backyard on a Saturday. With the best of intentions and weeks of not drinking I had no idea that my disease had progressed. The months following were like walking a minefield for Hubby. Weekends meant drinking for me and on these evenings my behaviour couldn’t be predicted. My self-loathing was all encompassing, bleeding into daily life.
That book which I’d bought months before was dusted off one desolate Saturday afternoon and read with new eyes.  Slowly I read the words, taking each of them in.  When I was a mere 10 pages into the book I realized that this book was far beyond my comprehension, something was screaming inside of me to give up.  The feeling of defeat was so overwhelming; I just KNEW inside of me that I would never be okay, that I was beyond help.
Something inside of me strengthened at these thoughts and I continued reading through the first chapter. Next I checked Google for meetings in my area and managed to find one the next day. I got through that Saturday with Prayer and the support of my Husband and family.
The next day I attended a meeting and for the first time nervously introduced myself with “Hi, I’m Julie and I think I’m an alcoholic”.
That day when I heard the first step I felt it in my bones. Through the people in that room I heard about myself, my disease. That it is insidious, cunning, baffling and powerful. I was told that through my utter defeat I was able to take my first steps towards liberation and strength.
That with God’s help this chaos could stop.
At that time I knew my life was unmanageable, not always on every level but enough that it was progressing to an extent which I didn’t want to face. History had proven that I was powerless over limiting my intake amounts or the frequency of it.
 My life overall wasn’t chaotic but any chaos which occurred happened while I was drinking.
My self-worth was in the gutter, I was hopeless.
I had admitted Step 1 to myself and did exactly as I was told by others with more sobriety than myself. I didn’t drink, attended meetings, got a sponsor and prayed.

Every day, often more than once I have repeated these words to myself and humbly asked God for the willingness to remember them and accept them.

Somehow when I wasn’t looking I realized I had not only admitted Step 1 to myself but I had accepted it.
No longer do I get the feeling of aversion in my gut, the instinct to deny it before consciously correcting my thinking.
The word “failure” doesn’t echo in my head anymore, instead I have a new respect for the power of this disease and I know that by the grace of God I’ve been given a chance to defeat it and the tools to do so.

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19 Responses

  1. I love this idea for a string of posts, and this was such a good one to lead it off. You laid it all out there so honestly for readers to see inside of what you went through. I remember when someone said in my first meeting that in the "doctor's note" there's something about an allergy, how our alcoholic bodies have 1 drink and it;s all over. I so GOT that, and it all clicked in my head. I still use that to this day, because when I start to think I might be normal again, I remember how I wouldn't ever want just one drink. I love how even from early on, you saw how much God played a part in your recovery. So beautiful. I can't wait to read more! :-)

  2. Julie, this is incredible! I'm proud of and impressed with you! Your journey, your sharing, your writing. Your transparency, your honesty, your rawness. I'm sending you love and learning from you every time I come visit! XO

  3. Thanks for sharing, I look forward to reading about the others steps. I think it is wonderful of you to post your experience with the steps, it just may help some one else! I am glad you mentioned the "We" part, it is so important for newcomers to come to the understanding they are not alone and everyone has had to admit powerlessness and surrender to win.

  4. By nature, we're (we addicts) are a bit defiant; this does not lend itself to complete submission,, though in order to be in a healthy state of recovery, we must. I'm pleased with my own progress on this step. Today, to recited that I am powerless is paradoxically liberating. Like an enormous sigh of relief; "ahhhhh,, there,, much better now that I'm no longer orchestrating the show"But rather, I allow God's will to unfold daily in my life and the skills you mention permit me to ACCEPT what He lays out in front of me.Yes, I am powerless; I have tried "having a few beers while in the yard on the weekend",, to no avail – I am powerless, after that first one, I'm gone on a drinking mission beyond any internal power to control. And an unmanageable life – WOW,, as I recetnly wrote over at "Crying out Now", all that was left for me was death because I had chaos strewn all over my path behind me from lost jobs to jail – ya, pretty unmanageable…Privileged to walk these steps with you Julie – ~d

  5. Very Nice take on Step One, The raw honesty and just being and sharing The way we are told. What it was like, what happened, and what it's like now, Truly you have emcompassed "the language of The Heart"

  6. wow. wonderful post. it's amazing how we all walk such similar paths to get here. i have tended to go for quick fixes myself. wanting to swallow the Big Book whole and say, i'm done. thank God for the rooms and listening to each other!

  7. I love this idea. I am working the steps and having recently conceded and gotten a sponsor I am proud to say I am working step one. I am looking forward to reading this as I do my step work.Thanks!!

  8. You have no idea how many lives you will touch with your open willingness to share…not to mention easy to read. You are an honest-from-the-heart kind of writer, my favorite kind. I love and have loved many who suffer from addictions…I know your walk isn't easy. May you always see your worth, your support and may your tomorrows be better than your yesterdays!

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