Tag Archives: God

How I Worked Step 1

Cover of "Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story...

Cover via Amazon

DISCLAIMER: This is how I was instructed to work Step 1 by my first sponsor. There are several ways to work Step 1, and my opinion is that you DO AS YOUR SPONSOR INSTRUCTS YOU! I have since worked Step 1 using other formats, but I continue to use this format with my sponsees because I found it to be useful to me. If you have found this page and are interested in working Step 1 using this format, take it to your sponsor and discuss it with him or her. Remember, you asked your sponsor to be your sponsor because you want what THEY have, not what I have! (Although I love what I have, but you don’t know me…but I digress….)

“We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.”

Step 1 has two parts:

  1. POWERLESSNESS – Has to do with my attempts to CONTROL my addiction.
  2. UNMANAGEABILITY – Has to do with the CONSEQUENCES of my drinking and/or drug use.

POWERLESSNESS

I was instructed to pray and ask God to show me the TRUTH, then write out the following:

Excuses I made in my head through:

  1. Minimizing – making things smaller than they actually are. Examples are: “I only drink at night, not in the morning.” or “I don’t drink before work.”
  2. Justifying – a good definition I heard in a meeting is “giving a socially acceptable reason for socially unacceptable behavior.” Examples are: “I worked hard all week.” “I deserve a break.” “I can drive stoned.”
  3. Rationalizing – inventing reasonable explanations for actions or opinions that are in reality based on other causes. Examples are: “They are prescription drugs.”

My sponsor told me that a relapse starts long before I pick up a drink. The excuses I wrote down above will be the LAST thoughts in my head before I pick up a drink. The last thoughts will be preceded by a period of time when I am not doing the basic things I have to do to stay sober, which were for me the list at the post entitled First Things First.

UNMANAGEABILITY

I was instructed to pray and ask God to show me the TRUTH, then write out the following:

The consequences of my drinking, which were:

  1. Physical – Examples are: headaches, tired, shaky, over-eating, under-eating, weak, passing out, black-outs (give examples – what was YOUR experience?)
  2. Emotional/Mental – Examples are: suicidal, hopeless, depressed
  3. Spiritual – Examples are: couldn’t feel God’s presence, lost, empty
  4. Financial – Examples are: I spent approximately $________ on the purchase of alcohol and/or drugs since the time I began drinking and/or drugging, I spent money I didn’t have (via credit cards or other) while under the influence of drink or drug, I spent money to hire an attorney to fight my DUI, on DUI school, to post bail, for rehab, on chemicals that would mask my drug use or clean out my system so that I could pass a drug test
  5. In Relationships – How has my disease affected my relationships with myself, God, boyfriend or girlfriend, friends, parents, siblings, co-workers, other family members?

My sponsor explained that the consequences I have written above are my (current) bottom. She explained that the elevator can and will go down further if I drink today and that things that haven’t happened while drinking are things that I should describe as my “yets”.

My first step list was 22 pages. She explained that what was on those pages is the very BEST I can do drinking and running my own life. She told me that what is on those pages is the END and that I should “play the tape through to the end”. Upon further investigation of the Big Book (specifically in “There is A Solution” and “More About Alcoholism”) and the description of the mental obsession, I learned that there may come a time that I will not be able to remember my END.

The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet obscure, have lost the power of choice in drink. Our so-called will power becomes practically nonexistent. We are unable, at certain times, to bring into our consciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago. We are without defense against the first drink. – BB, page 24

“I saw that will power and self-knowledge would not help me in those strange mental blank spots.”     – BB, page 42

Once more: The alcoholic at certain times has no effective mental defense against the first drink. Except in a few rare cases, neither he nor any other human being can provide such a defense. His defense must come from a Higher Power. – BB, page 43

It is this information that propelled me into Step 2 because I saw that if I were to stay sober, the self-knowledge I gained from my Step 1 exercise would not be a sufficient defense against the first drink!

Lack of power, that was our dilemma. We had to find a power by which we could live, and it had to be a Power greater than ourselves. Obviously. But where and how were we to find this Power?

Well, that’s exactly what this book is about. Its main object is to enable you to find a Power greater than yourself which will solve your problem. – BB, page 45

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When Love Is Not Enough

Tonight another alcoholic and I drove to Legacy at Lake Lanier Islands for AA Woodstock of the South and were delighted to see the Christmas light show on our way to the conference!

At the conference, we heard Bill & Bernadette B. of S.C. tell their alcoholic/alanon stories.  Bill told about the collection of interviews he did with Lois Wilson, whose story is told in this movie.

Bill said that Lois told him that Bill Wilson always felt like he was a failure at everything. Ha! Doesn’t God have a wonderful sense of humor?! I need to remember that next time I feel down on myself.

I had a bad drunk/relapse dream last night – I suspect as a result of my AA anniversary coming up in a few days – and had been feeling disconnected from my higher power today.  Bill B. said exactly what I needed to hear to bring me back:  Bill’s mother-in-law would annoy him when he was drinking – every time he came home drunk, she would be in the dining room with her rosary beads and prayer cards and bible.  One time he even yelled at her.  But then, after he got sober, she sat down beside him and said, “You know, when I read the bible and think about all the miracles God has performed, I’ve often wondered what it would be like to witness a miracle like that.”  Then she put her hand on his shoulder and said, “And now I have.”

Who knows what God has in store for this one of His many miracles!

Are you a miracle too?  Let me hear from you!!

I Need A Miracle Every Day!!

In the early 90’s, I was a budding druggie alcoholic junkie who frequented Grateful Dead shows.  I remember guys, sporting dreadlocks and smelling like patchouli, walking around calling, “I need a miracle!” which apparently was code for “I need a ticket!” although at the time for some reason** I thought it was code for “I need a hit of acid!”

Too much of everything is just enough
One more thing I just got to say

I need a miracle every day,
I need a miracle every day,
I need a miracle every day, (got to be the only way)
I need a miracle

-Grateful Dead, “I Need A Miracle!”

**I thought we were all tripping on LSD and that my life was normal!

“The sensation is so elusive that, while they admit it is injurious, they cannot after a time differentiate the true from the false.” –BB xxviii(xxvi), The Doctor’s Opinion

I was going through the Doctor’s Opinion with a sponsee recently and was reminded of the “I need a miracle” calls when I got to this paragraph:

“We doctors have realized for a long time that some form of moral psychology was of urgent importance to alcoholics, but its application presented difficulties beyond our conception.   What with our ultra-modern standards, our scientific approach to everything, we are perhaps not well equipped to apply the powers of good that lie outside our synthetic knowledge.” -BB xxvii(xxv), The Doctor’s Opinion

I stopped, looked at my sponsee and said, “I think he is saying we need a miracle – what do you think?”  Fresh off the heels of another relapse, she quickly replied, “Yes!”

I listened to a Sandy B. talk recently where he describes the words used in the 9th step promises, such as “disappeared”, “slip away”, “intuitively”, and “materialize” as “magician’s words.”  It is magic I need – and I need it every day.

“What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition.”  BB p.85, Into Action

Dr. Silkworth mentions the scientific approach in the passage above.  I’d like to address that by referencing a book I once skimmed through called When Skeptics Ask.  I found the chapter on miracles interesting.  The book says:

“A miracle is divine intervention into, or interruption of, the regular course of the world that produces a purposeful but unusual event that would not have occurred otherwise.  By this definition, then, natural laws are understood to be the normal, regular way the world operates.  But a miracle occurs as an unusual, irregular, and specific act of a God who is beyond the universe.  This does not mean that miracles are violations of natural law or even opposed to them.  As the famous physicist Sir George Stokes has said, ‘It may be that the event which we call a miracle was brought on not by a suspension of the laws in ordinary operation, but by the super addition of something not ordinarily in operation.’  In other words, miracles don’t violate the regular laws of cause and effect, they simply have a cause that transcends nature.”

I read somewhere that the scientific method says something must be observable, testable, repeatable, and falsifiable.  By their very nature, miracles are a one-time, unrepeatable occurrence, and therefore, cannot be proved by the scientific method.  But then again, with the estimate of the number of people recovering in AA from a “seemingly hopeless state of mind and body” being around 2,000,000, maybe miracles can be proved just by looking around the rooms of AA.  Maybe we are witnessing miracles every day.

I am fascinated by the fact that scientists were looking to something other than science to heal alcoholics.  “No human power could have relieved our alcoholism,” says our literature.

If you get a chance, I highly recommend Chapter 24 of Pass It on, which includes a letter from Carl Jung to Bill W.  He writes about his treatment of an alcoholic named Roland H. who would later get sober in AA.

“His craving for alcohol was the equivalent on a low level of the spiritual thirst of our being for wholeness, expressed in medieval language:  the union with God…The only right and legitimate way to such an experience is that it happens to you in reality, and it can only happen to you when you walk on a path which leads you to higher understanding…Alcohol in Latin is spiritus, and you use the same word for the highest religious experience as well as for the most depraving poison.  The helpful formula therefore is:  spiritus contra spiritum.”

“spiritus” = breath, breathing, air, soul, life; also Alcohol, as in spirits

“contra” = against, facing, opposite; weighed against; as against; in resistance/reply to; contrary to, no in conformance with; the reverse of; otherwise than; towards/up to, in direction of; directly over/level with; to detriment of

Whoopee party’s translation:  Spirit against spirits!

To end his book God and the Astronomers, Robert Jastrow, a NASA scientist, astronomer, physicist and cosmologist writes:

“For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream.  He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquest the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”

How to find your miracle is explained here: 

Triumphant Arch

Hat tip to Friends of Bill W.  for pulling all of this together.  Early on, I became fascinated with the metaphor (I think it’s a metaphor) that runs through the Big Book relating to the construction of an arch.  I looked everywhere for this picture, Friends!  Thank you!  Thought I would share my embellishments on your work!

 

Third Step Prayer

“God, I offer myself to Thee-to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always!”

– Third Step Prayer, BB p.63, How It Works