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Perfection One Day at a Time

Today I did something perfect. Actually, I have done one thing perfect every day for the last few years. That “one” thing is to remember I am powerless over alcohol. When I remember that, I am following Step One and it is written that it is the ONLY step we must do perfectly.

The steps are in order for a reason although we can begin working the maintenance steps of Ten, Eleven, and Twelve at any time. We are also constantly reminded that it is “progress not perfection” as that relates not only to recovery but how we live our lives. Step One in any 12 Step Recovery group is literally the first step in recognizing an addiction. Recognizing it, though, is not good enough. We have to know that if we take just one drink, one pill, one drug, gamble one time, we will begin the downward spiral yet again, this time probably being worst than the last.

The danger of relapse for any of us is always out there. I heard it said in a meeting that every day we stay sober we are farther away from our last drink but closer to our next. I don’t know about you, but that puts fear into my heart because I am not different than any other addict and I have to remember that. But I don’t want to be just sober (dry drunk) so I do work all of the steps. So, there is one step I must do perfectly and the other eleven teach me how to be the best person I can be for myself, my loved ones and my God.

Because of my human frailties (a nice word for defects) there are many times my defects are more alive and well than ever before. There are times when I don’t feel very spiritual and prayer and meditation are not part of my agenda. There are times when I fall into resentments and have a great time taking everyone else’s inventory. And, there are many times I just can’t turn anything over to God and decide my plan is better. Fortunately, these usually don’t occur at the same time but the point is I have good days and not so good days. But my worst days sober are better than my best days drunk because I remember every day that I am an alcoholic and powerless over alcohol.

I am convinced that the difference between folks who never “go out” and folks who relapse is forgetting Step One. Granted, if you don’t go to meetings, don’t work with a sponsor, don’t work the steps, etc., etc., you probably have a pretty good chance of relapse. Most of the relapsers I know “forgot” they were powerless. They thought after a period of time that maybe, just maybe, they weren’t alcoholic and could have a drink. Or that they convinced themselves they honestly could have one! How often have we heard that for the alcoholic, one drink is too many and a hundred not enough? That is a true statement and we know it but we hope, just this one time, it will be different. Step One absolutely MUST be done perfectly and all we have to do is not drink one day at a time!

I know men and women who have relapsed after years and years of sobriety; people who relapsed after being sober for a period of time and are now faced with extreme DUI’s and jail time; and, unfortunately, some who lost it all and died because they just couldn’t admit they were powerless. They couldn’t humble themselves quite enough to beat an insidious disease. I guess Step One is a dichotomy, isn’t it? Perfection and humility and somehow it all makes sense.

If you have never written down all of the times in your life you were powerless over alcohol (or drugs, food, etc.), you really should. When you begin to believe Step One is not about you, read your list. One woman shared that AA completely ruined her drinking because once she began recovery her thoughts about those times she was powerless were stronger than her desire to drink. A perfect Step One doesn’t mean that we will never desire a drink, have a drink dream or even put ourselves in a precarious position. A perfect Step One means that no matter what the situation, we just don’t drink. I (we) must live this step every single day for the rest of life. Tomorrow may be different but with the help of my Higher Power, I can say that I did something perfect…today.

Namaste’. May you walk your journey in peace and harmony.

Like Grateful Recovery on Facebook. Kathy L. is the author of "The Intervention Book" now in print, e-book and audio

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