Step one…admitting we are powerless over alcohol

I never planned to go to AA. I wasn’t that bad (ha ha…silly me). I really felt I just needed to get myself under control. To find the right combination of rules and restrictions to ensure I could drink enough to get buzzed, but not pass out on the couch. And perhaps to make it through a Sunday afternoon without drinking.

When I started this that is exactly what I did do. I decided zero alcohol for a year. A gift for myself. A non negotiable break.

For me, that was enough to get things going…it somehow got me through the hysteria, anxiety and then sever depression that followed in the first months of sobriety. That,and the immediate recognition that somehow life without alcohol was better,even if it felt scary and hard.

Eventually I started looking around for support. I was lonely and sad. I was still afraid to admit I had had a real drinking problem…after all, I had a professional job, a lovely home and family, a life that looked ok from the outside. 

Jean from Unpickled gave me some good words of advice. Be open minded. Try different things. Stop trying to solve the problem with the same thinking that created it.

So, I tried AA. Going to a meeting is a intensely scary and exhilarating experience. Everyone should try it! Don’t worry. No one will make you do or say anything!

And there I heard my own story told back to me from people I never expected. Stories of drinking compulsively. Of loneliness. And of dispair. Followed by a brilliant realization that there is another way to live, and that it is not only not bad, but full of joy and happiness and comfort and contentment. Honesty and personal responsibility.

The most powerful idea I have learned at AA is step one. Admitting I am powerless over alcohol, and that my life had become unmanageable.

I “do” this step every day. I know that the only way to take back my power is to not add alcohol. So I don’t. And life remains very manageable.

I spent many days reading about habits, diets, metabolism, changing behaviour, etc. In the end, I just had to let go of the clearly mistaken belief I had that alcohol added anything to my life. Or to anyone’s life, for that matter.

I still have the same job, family and life I had before. But Now I am able to see past my own self focus. A drinkers eyes are always turned on themselves. It is selfish and self destructive .

Sober eyes see the world. And the unending beauty and potential available.

If you are struggling, take the risk and go to a meeting. You never have to go back, but perhaps you will hear something that will change you thoughts.

Stillness and peace .


28 thoughts on “Step one…admitting we are powerless over alcohol

  1. This was a good thing for me to read today. It’s been a week and a half, since I last went to a meeting and I’m feeling a bit squirrelly…
    I believe I’ll go today. 🙂

      1. I always assumed it wasn’t a big deal, because I didn’t make a routine of getting drunk. Unfortunately, the insidiousness of knowing that I was trying to numb my emotions and thinking I would stop after things got better was absolutely insane. I’ve been trying to work the program for over a year, but I have relapsed several times. I’m finally at a point where I am ready to accept myself the way I am.
        Granted, I’m still working on a higher power of my conception, because I am bisexual and the higher power that I used to believe in doesn’t exactly condone that.

      2. I left organized religion behind when I embraced yoga. I can’t stand anything that uses fear or punishment to keep people in line.
        Love and compassion are all that really work.
        I’m happy to believe the universe has my back.

        I just stick to step one mainly. Some of the other steps are not for me. Especially step 4.

        And I try to share the message. That the freedom of sobriety far outweighs anything I gave up.

  2. great post. I truly believe there a lots of tools in recovery or life in general. If whatever I try is not working for me, there are many many alternatives. I consider myself somewhat of heretic of sorts with AA. I went religiously to “90 in 90” during my very earliest of recovery. And, I have also gone years without attending a meeting. But every day I live consciously into my recovery, using different tools, but always every day being mindful that I am an alcoholic – and that has worked.

    1. I agree. I have never had a sponsor. I worked through the steps on my own in a workbook. I have read all the literature.

      Mostly I like meetings. I like the honesty. I try to go once a month, but I like knowing they are always available.

  3. I like the idea of taking what you want from the teachings and not necessarily subscribing to everything. Some of the steps are spiritually sound in ‘broad’ terms but I still need to find the right meeting for me, perhaps I’ll try go again…xxx

    1. The meeting I go to is funny. Mainly men who work in the oil industry or construction. Very few women.
      And a group comes from a local treatment centre that has an aboriginal basis and is mainly very young.

      No matter who they are, when they speak honestly, my heart hears them.

  4. You told my story. The one that wasn’t bad enough to need help.

    It wasn’t for me because I didn’t drink out of a paper bag on the street.

    I’m glad I went and I’m glad you did to.

  5. I attended my first AA meeting at 21, because I had gotten a DUI after a wedding the summer before. I went and did needlepoint to serve my hours. I wasn’t ready. Years later, I showed up at my “now 26 years plus” husband’s house – buzzed – and he sort of drew the line in the sand…”You can’t show up here like that”… the next day I went to another AA meeting (I don’t think I’d been sober 24 hours…broke that rule)…but I did declare “Hi, I’m M…and I’m an alcoholic…a Social Alcoholic. I went on to share a bit of my story and after the meeting someone approached me and said “You have changed my life…I was coming today to have my court paper signed for a DUI, but I think I do have a problem”.
    I changed her life…but not my own…I got “moderate”… maintained my set of silly rules…but many times I’d “over do it”…and then we all know where that goes the day after. {Insert Face Red with Shame}
    I didn’t hear my own story the last time I went to AA…I wasn’t ready…not yet.
    Today is Day 50.

  6. Me too!
    Me too!
    I didn’t realize what I was doing, but you are so right!
    Each day I do step one!
    Each day is something new for me to learn!
    Much Love to You, Anne!

  7. Brilliant post.

    I listened to a friend speak at a meeting the other day. He spoke of “doing his step 1” with his sister in her kitchen when she pointed out how much wine he’d drunk that day. He just poured out that it was out of control, he couldn’t stop and it was all going to hell in a handcart.

    I realised that was similar to me. I went to talk to a nurse who I trusted and finally said to someone “I have a problem with drink”. At rehab I expected to be taught the trick to drinking normally “again” … laughable I’d never drunk normally there was no again to go back to.

    Soon that was beaten out of me with others showing me that I was the same as then. As soon as the saying “one is too many, a thousand not enough” was introduced to me that light went on. If I don’t have the first one I don’t have the problem of not being able to stop at 10 or 12 or 15.

    I continue to do Step 1 daily and regularly sit in a room with others saying “I’m an alcoholic” – just that statement alone has profound meaning to me when I admit it.

    1. I agree. Saying the words out loud was something I never planned to do, but it is so freeing. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being an alcoholic if you don’t drink.

  8. Great post Anne. I went to my first meeting at 7months sober as i just wanted some real life support. I thought since id managed 7 months by myself they wouldnt take me seriously but that wasnt the case at all. Such a great place for unconditional support. I only get to go once a week but it does make a massive difference for me. Admitting i am an alcoholic was so powerful. It has helped me accept it and be happy. I still cannot get the higher power thing. I like the idea that I got myself sober. I do believe I am powerless over alcohol though and therefore accept I cannot have that first drink.

  9. Great post. Yes I have admitted I’m powerless over alcohol. Not through AA but I read it on one of these blogs and I knew it was important for me to move forward. I’ve tried to get the power back too many times now. I admit defeat, I’m not playing anymore. It’s much easier this way.

  10. I love how this post hits home for so many right now.
    I finally called AA at the beginning of the month and asked about our local meetings. The phone guy was so lovely and txt a woman and a man’s name and numbers. The woman’s number didn’t work and the man didn’t answer and I didn’t leave a message…

    Anyway.. an hour or so later I had a txt from someone I knew at the not for profit organisation I headed in 2015. I was shocked – it was a guy I had to let go. He wanted to know why I had called him. Oh no! It was the local AA coordinator I had called being one in the same! I feel awful and no way can i go to a local meeting!

    I have a plan though, to go into the city (when the kids go back to school next week) to a daytime meeting and see if I can get some support. I have tried to do this on-line but Smart Recovery isn’t introduced widely or fully in NZ and all the AA meetings in my area are at night and no kids.

    Think it is the responsible thing to do – to keep walking the line.

    M xx

    1. You know, it might be fate that you know this person…
      I see people I know at meetings occasionally and because we are there for the same reason I have found some long lost friends.

      Whatever you decide, find one to try when you can. Even if you don’t like it, it’s worth considering. So many different groups use the 12 steps…there must be a reason!

  11. This is great advice – to be open-minded, take risks, and let go of trying to solve all my problems with the same thinking that created them. Reading this reminded me that often, I just need to accept the powerlessness and let go of trying to solve my problems at all. I also can get caught up in self-focus, and before I went into treatment (group therapy sounds a lot like AA – hearing my own story repeated back to me), I was very inward-centric. Ironically, for me at least, I think this is the self-defensive, self-protective reflex of a person barely coping. Letting down the defenses, releasing the stranglehold on control, and trying something different (in my case, that was a treatment program and cooperating with a dietician) was the biggest, scariest risk I ever took. It was only when I stopped trying to protect myself that I found healing. It’s easy to forget that lesson. Thank you for the reminder!

    P.S. Your reflections on your sobriety are a welcomed gift! Thank you for sharing them.

  12. Glad to have stumbled across your blog. I am a chronic relapser and have recently had a slip after 4 months clean and sober. I am hoping that by starting a blog here I might build some kind of online support network. I’m already very inspired by some of the stories and advice I have read here. I look forward to reading more of your story. x

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