The 12 Steps in Everday Living: Part One
This is the first in what will hopefully be a 12-part series, something that has been percolating in my mind for a while. The 12 steps are an amazingly helpful tool in overcoming addiction, but they offer so much more. At least for this alcoholic, the 12 steps are a framework for living my whole life happy, joyous and free. So I want elaborate on how each step has helped me overcome addiction, and also how it continues to help me in all areas of life.
Step One: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable.
The essence of this step is surrender, something that is difficult to do under any circumstances. We have an amazing ability to deny, to justify, and to defend when in the throes of active addiction. For me, admitting I was powerless took some time, and even longer to see how my life had become unmanageable. I knew I had a problem, I just thought I could figure out a way to control the problem. The harder I tried to control it, the worse the problem became, and, if you have read A Series of Bottoms, Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4, then you know the end of that story.
But the good news is that once I finally surrendered to the idea that I was powerless, the solution became clear… not easy, but clear. And to this day, step one is like the antidote to the thought of a drink or a drug.
So that’s how Step One helps my recovery, but here’s how it helps me in everyday life. Mind-altering substances are not the only things over which I am powerless. My life can still become unmanageable without picking up a drink or drug. If I try to control those things over which I have no control, my life suddenly loses the serenity for which I have fought so hard, and step one helps me to keep all my thoughts in check, not just the ones concerning addictive substances.
When the people that I love are behaving in ways with which I disagree, and I fight to make them see my way is the right way, my life becomes unmanageable.
When situations arise that are unjust, and I am outraged with the injustice, my life becomes unmanageable.
When I am filled with fear over a future event, or filled with regret over a past event, my life becomes unmanageable.
When I am fixated on what is wrong in my life, instead of being grateful for all that is good, my life becomes unmanageable.
In each of those cases, and many others, simply admitting that I am powerless over those people, over the future, over the past, over so many things, frees me from the accompanying negative feelings, and allows me to remember what I can control, and restores me to sanity.
I am hoping my fellow friends in recovery will be willing to add to this post. How does step one help in everyday living? I can’t wait to read your ideas on this subject!
I showed up to a meeting today that I do not usually attend, and found a friend just coming back from a relapse. Watching the courage it took for him to admit his mistake, and the unconditional love he received, was heart-warming. Remembering again how grateful I am to be sober is a miracle!
Posted on April 12, 2013, in Twelve Steps in Everyday Living and tagged Addiction, Alcoholic Anonymous, Health, Recovery, Sobriety, Steps (group), Substance Abuse, Support group, Twelve-Step Program. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.