We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.
And so I have decided to come around and do the first five steps – transcribe them from the 12 and 12 and comment on them, or not. I began this blog with the idea of doing that, starting with Step Six. In my 29 years of sobriety I have worked and reworked the steps by thinking about them in detail, but I had usually, formally, started with one and gone through a new fourth and fifth step and then petered out. It’s been a great exercise for me, and one of the antidotes to boredom that can set in after so many meetings and readings over the decades. I’m grateful that at difficult times in my life, I turned to the steps and did them anew and that got me through. Twice, I think, over these almost 30 years, so not excessively. In my opinion there is a danger in throwing a new fourth and fifth at too many difficulties. But I digress.
Part of the Big Book tell us that the reason the first step is first is because without admitting powerlessness, most of us won’t put in the effort to work the rest of the program. I know I wouldn’t. In as much as I knew and understood and could articulate that I was powerless and an alcoholic, I still harbored a hope that I could somehow drink and as long as I had just a little of that hope, I couldn’t sustain sobriety. The admitting for me must have been on some other level and it took a long (to me) time and just about complete ruin. I really wasn’t functioning at the end of my drinking. I literally couldn’t write my name, and I couldn’t go on much longer.
So this step became the best news of my life. Today, at 51 years old, when I have a twinge or a swelling that makes me fear for my very life, I quickly remember that truly every year I’ve had since I was 22 (and some before that) have been against my best efforts to kill myself. They are all extra, and a gift I didn’t deserve.
It was on the news this morning that a young actor died yesterday at 31 years old. The news said that he had a history of substance abuse. There doesn’t seem to be any other predictor of an early death without another disease than that.
I’m not chosen and I’m just lucky. This first step is where my second life begins.