Monday, July 19, 2004

Step One: Unmanageable

To see my other stepwork online visit Index of Stepwork.

Step One: We admitted that we were powerless over alcohol-that our lives had become unmanageable.

Step One comes in two separate parts. I have addressed powerlessness in my life in the two previous posts. The unmanageability of my life is what needs to be addressed here. As an aside, the only mention of alcohol in the Twelve Steps is right here, in step one. Once we are past the first half of step one, we are done with alcohol. Now we have moved into the realm of learning to live life without alcohol, or as many AA members put it: living life on life’s terms.

The sad truth is that when I entered AA at almost thirty-two years old, I might as well have been a thirteen year old. Most of my living and coping skills that did not involve drinking were developed before I turned thirteen. I had never been responsible for paying bills for any extended period in my life. Never once had I made a car payment, opened an account or any of that.

My personal relationships were wrecked, my mother had not spoken to me for a couple of years, my sister longer. My wife was packing to leave, but I was completely unaware of that. I had no friends left.

I had no problem imagining that my life was unmanageable at that time. Like powerlessness, the freshly sober Andy was willing to give up the management of my life. Initially the management of my life went to my wife, my employer and most of all, my then sponsor, Van. I do not know why I did what I was told, I never had in the past. But I did do what I was told and one day at a time things got better.

My temper confused and frightened me. All of a sudden out of nowhere it seemed, I could go into rages. I would break things, throw them, yell, scream, kick and punch walls—you name it, I did it. Sometimes in public. Sometimes on the job. When it was over, I felt shamed and humiliated. The feelings of shame and humiliation put me in more danger of a drink than any other individual emotions. These were the things that made my life unmanageable.

I learned slowly to give those things away, to my sponsor, to the Goddess I was getting to know. That is the start of handling unmanageability.

I will have to pick up here tomorrow.