We admitted we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable. Step One.
It’s January. It’s cold. It’s blustery. And it’s dark. Did anyone here get sober in the winter? I did. And my time at Tallgrass was characterized by bone chilling wind and mountains of snow. I called it the “winter of my soul.” Because that’s how it felt. Like my soul was in hibernation and I was trying to coax it out into the stark darkness of the elements so I could breathe new life into it. And in order to do that, apparently I had to take Step One.
When faced with Step One, there could be several reactions. “That’s not me.” or “My life is unmanageable, but I can still control my use.” or “I’m done with alcohol, but don’t tell me I can’t manage my own life.” or the still more baffling response. “Yeah. And?” Because didn’t you know? You knew. Somewhere in your heart of hearts, you knew that things were just not going the way they were supposed to. Maybe you couldn’t put your finger on it or perhaps you tried to evade the issue and just kept trying to figure it out – because someday – you would. You had to, right?
Step One is not an intellectual admission. Our brains have known for a long or a short period of time prior to being introduced to recovery, that we were powerless and that we couldn’t manage anything. And there certainly didn’t seem like there was a way out of it. So if it’s not just knowing, then what is it? The Big Book says we “admit to our innermost selves.” What does THAT entail? Nothing more than moving the intellect to the heart.Step One is a gut level acceptance that this thing is real, it’s powerful, and it’s killing you. Period. Step One makes your stomach hurt, it makes your head ache; it strikes desperation into your heart. Because if it’s true, if it’s really, really true, then what am I going to do? Step One is your admission into the “Program.” Because if you don’t feel desperate for something different, if you aren’t filled with fear, if your way of doing things hasn’t been totally exhausted and proven completely insufficient, why would you do Step One? It’s really that simple. Until you are completely convinced at a gut level that you absolutely cannot go on living the way you have been, then an intellectual admission of powerlessness and unmanageability isn’t going to get you very far than the next liquor store. Step One hurts. And it should hurt. So when it starts to hurt? Embrace it. You’re on your way.
Kate Zimmerman Tallgrass Alumnus #35