Sunday, October 5, 2014

Step 1: Part 1

Step 1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.

1a. I have a sponsor.

I was sober for more than 5 consecutive months before I got one, because, being a perfectionist, I thought I needed the perfect sponsor. Last weekend, I decided that I needed a sponsor now more than I needed The Perfect Sponsor someday. And as soon as I decided that, my Higher Power (can't get used to that term, which still sounds so AA Lola Granola to these old school Catholic ears) gave me the sponsor I needed. She is just about as close to perfect for me as a sponsor can get. We have a lot in common, and we have a lot that's different. We will no doubt get on each other's nerves from time to time, but it's still new enough that we're both on our best behavior. I know she isn't Perfect (and she wouldn't be the perfect sponsor for me if she was) but I think maybe I'm going to love her.

1b. I am working the Steps.

Well, I am working the first one, anyway. I titled this post the way I did because I think I may be on Step 1 for a while. Just as well, since Steps 4-9 scare the shit out of me, and even though I'm usually the type who wants to rush through everything at warp speed, there is something (Higher Power?) telling me to  s...l...o...w   d...o...w...n  on this one.

I took Step 1 exactly a year ago today, and then backtracked. So here I am, a year later, still in Remedial Step 1. Me! I was always a straight A student. I should have rocked this step stuff. I should have left Step 12 in the dust months ago and have 4 or 5 sponsees sitting at my feet in awe of my awesomeness by now, right?

I'm not sure whether AA is the first thing I've ever done that you can't ace and skip a grade in, or whether I'm just finally realizing that trying to ace everything and skip grades is kind of a half-assed way to do just about anything. And if I try to do Step 1 that way, I will fail, just as I failed last year.

Admitting I am powerless is hard for me. It's probably hard for most people. My very religious friends are able to do it. The Evangelicals do it best. They seem positively to revel in their powerless, positively luxuriate in their submission to the Lord. I see it, but I don't get it. You know what they say about Catholic girls. We're trouble. But my sponsor is one of those Catholic bad girls, too, so she knows what she's in for.


  1. I think I did step one while I still on a stool drinking. I knew long ago that I was an alcoholic and that I powerless over it and my life was unmanageable (i just didn't phrase it in those ways!). So reading that step an admitting it - easy. I was busted, broken, on the ropes. I knew I was going to die or kill someone at the rate I was going. My ego had to crack just ever so slightly for me to make that admission. And frankly, it was in that submission that I found true freedom.

    Like you, I saw *those* religious folks as these supplicant yes-men who I would never want to be like. But I learned that in surrendering, I won. Strange, and yes, my ego took a bruising to see that I couldn't "control" this, or allow myself to trust in the process, but in the end it was the best thing for me.

    I may not revel in my powerlessness over alcohol, but it was the gateway into which i could start my journey :)


  2. Right. And it's probably because I wasn't entirely "busted, broken, on the ropes" on the outside that my first attempt at Step 1 didn't take. I still had a job, a house, a car, custody of my kids, got places on time. I was broken inside, but I could still put on a good show outside.

    Thanks for your comment, and thanks for reading, Paul.