When I think about Step One, I only get as far as the first part where we admit we are powerless over our addiction. I never seem to give the second part of the Step its due because it took me longer to admit my life was unmanageable than it was to admit powerlessness. Yes, I know, but I’m a real addict. I took the hardest part of the Step and made it easy and then rather ignored the easy part because it was going to be harder than I thought. Make sense?
Admitting that I was powerless was personal; something that didn’t seem to involve anyone but me. I had a disease that affected me mentally, emotionally, and physically and I was selfish enough to think it didn’t affect anyone but me. So to say my life was unmanageable meant that my addiction went outside of my private little world and that in turn meant it might be obvious to others. I maintained, or thought I had maintained a rather manageable life because it looked okay. My house was always in order, I paid my bills on time, I had food in the fridge and I even “managed” to take my dogs for walks or to the dog park. Yes, by all appearances, my life was manageable.
Underneath the appearance was total and utter chaos. I realize now that I surrounded myself with drama because that’s what I knew best. Drama is what made me feel alive while I was killing myself with alcohol. I could find something to argue about with anyone but it was because they were always wrong. I had a tremendous amount of self-pity when I did not feel someone treated me right. I knew my life was not what I wanted it to be but I honestly had decided it was what it was.
When I began the 12 Steps to recovery and read the first step, I still didn’t feel my life was unmanageable. I labeled it confusing. In retrospect it was unmanageable and confusing and not going anywhere but downhill. It took me a while to truly understand my life in my addiction because I was fortunate (and grateful) not to have to experience so many of the “bottoms” so many of my recovering friends had to experience.
I realized when I took this Step that I never did hide the unmanageability of my life. My family saw it, heard it, and lived it. In other words, they saw my life clearly when I was so unable. Step One sets the groundwork for all of the other steps and, remember, it is the only one that must be done perfectly. If we cannot see the unmanageability of our lives we cannot achieve the level of honesty a program requires to see all of our defects.
Whether you are presently in a 12 Step program or not I invite you to take some time for this short exercise. Sit down, think and be honest. Write or type out all of the times in your life where you saw or felt chaos or unmanageability in your life and then think about the circumstances surrounding them. Put this exercise in a safe place so that you can refer to its contents later. This is the beginning of an important self-discovery as we progress through these 12 Steps.
Namaste’. May you walk your journey in peace and harmony!
"Like" Grateful Recovery on Facebook. Kathy L. is the author of "The Intervention Book: Stories and Solutions from Addicts, Professionals, and Families."