Tag Archives: power greater than ourselves

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

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!

 

First Things First

At some point in my first week of sobriety, my sponsor had me make this list of the things I must do today to stay sober.  I like that she made it really simple, although I did not find these things to be easy.

*  Pray – on my knees! 

  • Ask for help in the morning to relieve the urge to go back to my old lifestyle of drinking and drugging
  • Thank God at night for keeping me sober that day

*  Go to a meeting

  • 90 meetings in 90 days
  • Go to a Big Book meeting and a Step meeting every week
  • Share what is really going on with me at the meeting

*  Call my sponsor

*  Call 5 sober members in recovery of the same sex

*  Help another

  • An anonymous nice thing
  • Service work at the meeting such as making coffee, wiping down counters, cleaning ashtrays
  • If someone picks up a white chip, give them my phone number and tell them how I felt on day one

*  Read literature and work steps

  • Starting with “The Doctor’s Opinion”, read the first 164 pages of the Big Book and highlight what I can relate to or what jumps out at me

*  Read Daily Reflections meditation in the morning

*  Take care of yourself!

  • Take a shower
  • Brush teeth
  • Wash face

Charlie Y., Savannah, GA

Just heard a wonderful story from Charlie Y. of Savannah, Georgia full of colloquialism, flashbacks, and dialogue.

He has been sober for 18 years.  He told about the day he “quit drinking” and how that lasted about a month…then how he “quit for good” and that lasted a few weeks…and then how he “quit for real”…  Eventually he was crawling around in a 9 x 7 jail cell floor and it occurred to him that he couldn’t quit drinking.

When he got out of jail, his wife took him to a mental institution where it sounded like they pumped him full of Thorazine.

He told us of his early childhood – how mom left him – and his days in Vietnam – by describing how he answered the questions of the counselor who wanted to discuss his “issues.”  But every time he told the counselor his issue was that he couldn’t quit drinking, the counselor tried to direct him back to the symptoms of his problem – not the real problem – which was, of course, he couldn’t quit drinking.

At a certain point in the drinking of every alcoholic, he passes into a state where the most powerful desire to stop drinking is of absolutely no avail.  This tragic situation has already arrived in practically every case long before it is suspected.

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.

Luckily, he was given the opportunity to go to an AA meeting and there he met a man who understood his problem and said, “That’s my problem too!”  He went to two more meetings, got a sponsor, and got a job making coffee that same day.  He was told to say, “It’s good to see you,” to every person who walked through the door.

He took us through his journey through the steps and continued to stress how “Just don’t drink and go to meetings” is enough to kill an alcoholic “like Charlie.”  That might work for the heavy drinker or the person who hasn’t yet lost the choice, but it won’t work for the alcoholic “like Charlie.”  We have to work the steps to develop a relationship with a power greater than us that will one day be the only thing that stands between us and a drink.

Charlie had us all laughing until he told us about the day that relationship he had developed with his creator through working the steps was the only thing that stood between him and a drink.  It was the day his son died – you could say of alcoholism – when his son rolled his jeep over.  At this, the girls around me passed around tissues.  The amazing part of that story was the way his sponsor and grand-sponsor supported him through it.

Eighteen years later, if you go to his group in Savannah on Mondays or Thursday nights, you’ll find Charlie there, making coffee, and he will say, “It’s good to see you.”

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