Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Step One

Everyone can benefit from working the 12 steps. Before Alcoholics Anonymous came along, the Oxford Group (a Christian group) had these steps. When Bill Wilson became sober he was searching for "tools" to keep sober and help others. He came upon the Oxford group through a fellow drunk and a dear friend. They rewrote them and inserted the word Alcohol for their benefit.

Are you powerless over something? Other people in your lives, eating disorder, work issues, your past, abuse issues, anything? Then come along with me and work these steps. I am going to go slow with these. Maybe a step a week or longer. You can work them at your own pace. They will always be here so you can come back to them and start out where you left off. Copy and paste them into your word program and keep them. They were given to me by one of my sponsors. Candy Smith, she got them from "The Top of the Hill Group" from California.

I am going to work these steps on my aging, and health issues. I am powerless over the process of aging, and I have some disabling aflictions. Diabetes, obesity, arthritis, Diverticulitis, Fibromyalgia, C.O.P.D., ADHD, OCD, depression, E-I-E-I-O etc! There are some things I can change in my life that will help me to live with these. The doctor told me that this does not need to be a death sentence. HMPPPFH!! What the heck does he know, he is 6'5" and skinny!

The depression I understand. I am actually mourning my youth. Youth meaning my forties. I was very active then. I was camping, in the Fire Department, working on the ambulance, working at Island Transit, Walking three miles after work, eating healthy mostly vegetarian. Then I turned 48 and WHAM!! Diverticulitis, then Diabetes, also the arthritis.
Along with the medications, came the weight gain. I gained 100 pounds when I went on insulin! It happens to alot of people. Not everyone, but of course I had to be one of them! Diabetes runs in my family. My dad had it, his uncle, my sister, my brother was on metformin so he was coming down with it, so there was no escaping it. My doctor said it is not my fault. That still doesn't help me feel better about myself.

Sooo, I quit drinking when I was 38 years old, June 21, 1987. Keeping busy and full of energy helped me stay sober. I have had my moments when sobriety was at risk. My mom died, my dad died, my brother got cancer and took a year and a half to die a long excrutiating death. Alcohol is no longer an option. If I don't focus myself it could very easy become an option and that would be the end of me!

So here we go. Open up Word document and copy and paste the step and get to work!! The answers are for you alone. No one needs to read it. If you have questions, email me and I can help.


Hold on folks, here we go!!



Step One consists of two distinct parts: (1) the admission that we have a mental obsession to drink alcohol(Smoke) and this allergy of the body will lead us to the brink of death or insanity, and (2) the admission that our lives have been, are now, and will remain unmanageable by us alone.

The first half of the first step -- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol -- is the beginning of the A.A. program which we strive to perfect on a daily basis. Since drinking is but a symptom of our disease, we must realize that the thinking mind with its acquired traits, habits and character defects allowed us to develop this obsession of the mind -- to drink. "By going back in our own drinking histories, we could show that years before we realized it we were out of control, that our drinking even then was no mere habit, that it was indeed the beginning of a fatal progression." (Twelve & Twelve)

This idea of personal powerlessness goes against what the thinking mind is telling us. Only through utter defeat (having hit our own bottom) are we then able to take the first step toward liberation and strength. This utter defeat is necessary so we can become convinced, beyond any doubt, that we are powerless and our life is unmanageable by us alone. Until we so humble ourselves (accept the devastating weaknesses and all their consequences), our sobriety -- if any -- will be precarious.

The fact that our lives were unmanageable is apparent, else why would we be involved in A.A.? However, it is not readily apparent to most of us that, even now, our lives are still unmanageable by us alone. This fact must be driven home. This realization, within our lives on a daily basis -- that we can not manage our own lives -- forms the basis for taking each of the twelve steps of A.A. in sequence.

In the process of accepting our powerlessness and unmanageability, we must be willing to put aside pride, the pride which nearly killed us. Although the doing of Step One can be painful, the road to recovery begins with surrender.

The facts of your life are just that -- facts. It is not the purpose of this step to judge where you have been right or wrong. Therefore, the purpose of writing out the first step is to admit to yourself honestly that you are powerless and your life is unmanageable by you alone.

Go through the following examples and be as honest and specific as you can. Give specific examples and situations from your own life. Write down the facts -- what, where, when, how much -- as they have occurred in your life. Try to see in your life how your disease has progressed.


Addiction History: Answer the questions below specifically -- dates, amounts, places, feelings, etc.

1. Age and circumstances of first drink -- how did you feel?

2. Age and circumstances of first loss of control -- what happened? How
did you feel?

3. Age when you were first concerned about your drinking -- what if anything did you do about it?

4. Others who have been concerned about your drinking -- Who? When? Why?

5. What feelings did you get from drinking? When did you not obtain those feelings? How did you feel then? How much did you drink regularly? What was your longest period of abstinence and how did you accomplish this?

Powerlessness: At some point in your history you became alcoholic, became powerless over alcohol, a mood altering chemical. It happened over a period of time. Define the process as it happened to you by answering the questions below. You will discover how your disease affected you and changed you so that you compromised your basic values.

1. What did you drink, how much, how often? How and when did this change as time went on?

2. Growing tolerance: Did it take more to make you feel good? Did it finally take more just to make you feel normal? Did you gulp drinks? Order stiffer drinks? Protect your supply? Hide your supply -- at home, in the car, at your job? What hangover symptoms did you have?

3. Growing preoccupation: Thinking, planning, or scheming how to drink or set up situations to drink. Were you preoccupied with drinking even when sober? Did drinking start to get in the way of your other activities? What and how? (Daytimes, vacations, increased drinking time) Did your other activities then start to get in the way of your drinking? Did you increase your drinking during times of stress? (Job/family/personal) Did you begin to drink at particular times more regularly? (After work, weekends, before going to bed, before leaving the house, morning drinking)

4. What accidents were caused by your drinking? What dangerous situations did your drinking get you into?

5. How and when did you attempt to cut down, or control your use of alcohol? How did you feel as a result of your attempts to control or stop your drinking?

Keep going!

6. Loss of Control: You used alcohol and then it started to use you! That's when you lost control. Give specific examples on each of the following:

a) Family: Broken promises, drunken embarrassing behavior in front of your family, sacrificing family for your drinking, money for drinking, physical and verbal abuse of yourself and your family.

b) Legal: Drunk driving, drunk and disorderly, divorce, jail, bankruptcy, theft, etc.

c) Social: Loss of friends/hobbies/community activities? Problems with sexuality?

d) Job: Were you absent? Lose promotions? Were you fired from your job(s) or threatened with it? Did you quit your job(s) due to your drinking? What were the impacts of going to work hungover? Or drinking while at work?

e) Physical: Were you hospitalized, or told by your doctor to cut down on your drinking? Were you using alcohol and/or other drugs as a medicine to sleep or relieve stress? What were your withdrawal symptoms? Did you have blackouts?

Unmanageability: drinking or not, your ENTIRE LIFE begun to show signs of your disease. The harder you tried to "manage", the worse it became. Give examples of how your life has been and is now unmanageable.

1. What is your present physical condition? Is it what you want it to be? Can you manage your own body? When did you last have a physical? Dental checkup? Are you willing to improve your nutrition?

2. Emotional and feeling life:

a) What is your self-image? Do you think you can manage yourself into being the person you want to be?

b) Try to see behavior patterns of unmanageability -- suppressing your feelings (with or without alcohol), setting unrealistic expectations and goals for yourself and others. Setting yourself up to fail -- perfectionism. Irresponsibility, procrastination, harboring resentments, self pity, grandiose beliefs, guilt, anger.

c) Are you aware that your drinking caused you to blame others for your problems? What special problems do you think caused you to drink? (of course, nothing can make us drink-- but what was your delusion?)

3. Spiritual life: Are you aware that you may be "spiritually bankrupt"? -- paranoid, suspicious, resentful, envious, untrusting, fearful, greedy, withdrawn, self-centered?

4. Social and family life: How has your drinking affected your family? How is your communication with your family? How much time do you spend with any of your family members? How do you feel about that?

5. Occupational life: How are you handling your present job? Other jobs you've had? Your career? Your education?

6. Financial matters: Give examples of your irresponsibility with money -- borrowing money, writing bad checks, misuse of credit cards, not paying your bills on time, whatever applies to you.

In Summary:




from the Top of the Hill group
840 17th St.
San Diego, CA 92101

Shared with love, Candy Smith, Oak Harbor, Washington June, 1980
Phyllis Brett, Coupeville, Washington June 21, 1987


Anji said...

Thank you for this Phyllis

Phyllis said...

Sure Angi, more coming later. If anything, it is an eye opener.