This is the first post in our series of a deeper dive on each of the Twelve Steps. So, naturally, let us start with Step One.
Step 1 - We admitted we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable.
There are two main parts to Step One: Powerlessness and Unmanageability. They’re different and they also go hand in hand. Let’s take a look at them one at a time.
Powerlessness means that once I start drinking I don’t have control of how much I’m going to drink, when I’m going to stop, or how I’m going to behave. If you’re wondering if you fit into this description, a classic experiment is to attempt to have two drinks and then stop. If you’re a real alcoholic you’ll probably have difficulty with this. Or you might be able to do it a few times through sheer willpower only to ultimately lose control once again.
Powerlessness also extends beyond drinking. I have to know that I’m powerless over people, places, and things. People, places and things can easily become triggers if my spiritual condition is not solid. We will have plenty of opportunities to work on the way in which we relate to the world later on in the steps. However, it’s important to know now that we need to be watchful or our reactions to other people, where we go and items that we might still have in our possession.
We are powerless. But as you will see, there is a tremendous amount of relief that comes along with being powerless. We don’t have to run the show anymore. We don’t have to tell people their business. And we don’t have to do it alone.
Ok, so I’m powerless but life being unmanageable I’m not sure about that one. Many of us had thought we were “managing things” only to realize, after gaining some clarity from the mental fog of alcoholism, that we weren’t fooling anyone. Unmanageability comes in many forms. We might have trouble at work. Or spouses or partners might be leaving us. We may have debt or trouble with the law. These are external markers of unmanageability. However, there is also internal unmanageability. We might have feelings of depression, despondency, or even thoughts of harming ourselves. We might be constantly on guard trying to manage our drinking, worried about getting found out and consequently never totally present for our relationships or responsibilities. If any of this sounds like you, you might be living in a state of unmanageability.
A lot of us take Step One before we even attend our first meeting. You might even be taking it now by reading this blog post. Most of us knew for a long time that there was something irregular about the way that we drank. We were sick and tired of being sick and tired. We were just doing our best because we thought we could never let go of our drinking. We can let go. And there is a way out. We are all very lucky that the founders of this program laid out very specific instructions in the pages of the “Big Book” that show us exactly how they recovered from a hopeless state of mind and body.
Once you raise your hand and say I can’t do this anymore you’ve taken Step One. Once we admit we were powerless and that our lives had become unmanageable we’re ready to start moving on with the rest of the steps. They each have a very specific purpose and are outlined in their order for a reason. So if you’re ready to learn more check out the next Post on Step 2.