“We admitted we were powerless over our addiction and that our lives had become unmanageable.”
Facing the first step in any recovery program can be a daunting task. Many people who find their way into recovery rooms for whatever addiction they face usually arrive because of great losses that have already happened. Most have found there was no where else to turn. And almost everyone in the beginning of any recovery program feels downtrodden, depressed, and hopeless. This can be a good thing though for someone beginning their journey of recovery.
During the good times of any of the addictions I have battled in this life, I generally felt upbeat and on top of the world. In the beginnings of each of them, the low times were greatly outweighed by the highs. There were moments in the low times when I was approached by those who had found recovery and I was extremely close-minded to listening to what they had to say.
Take my alcoholism for example. In my senior year of college, things got out of hand twice with my drinking. During both of those times, I blacked out and created some problems for myself and for others. For the first incident, I was only given a warning and simply laughed it off. For the second, I was put on a level of academic probation where I had to speak to a person from AA once a week for three sessions. I still remember sitting in my apartment on the couch half listening to a guy tell me about how I might have a problem with drinking and that maybe I should go to a meeting with him. I wasn’t open to hearing what he had to say because I wasn’t broken yet from my addiction. I wasn’t regularly feeling depressed. I hadn’t landed in jail. My grades were excellent and I was quite the overachiever in my fraternity. There had not been enough consequences yet in my life to see that alcohol was making my life unmanageable. That period actually came much later.
When I finally went to my first twelve step recovery meeting with an open mind and open heart, it was in September of 2007. By then, I really was broken and had hit rock bottom. I had quit drinking and drugs twelve years before but had decided back then I could recover on my own. After twelve long years of believing that and getting addicted to many other things, I had lost pretty much everything and my life felt completely out of control. Suddenly the first step in AA made sense to me and I was ready to listen to what that man had once said to me all those years back in my college apartment. I finally knew at that point I was powerless over my alcoholism and my addictive personality. As for my life being unmanageable, at that point, my business was in financial failure, my health was deteriorating rapidly, my seven year relationship was over, and I was forced to live in my sister’s guest room as I had no where else to go. So was my life truly unmanageable? Absolutely.
I don’t believe that there is any way the first step can be understood unless one is truly in a place of brokenness. Throughout the five years of active drinking and drugging that I did and the twelve years that followed after that where I found other substitute addictions, I never quite got to that place of feeling shattered on every level. Thank God that it came before I actually relapsed or before something even worse then that happened.
Step 1 could be compared to climbing Mount Everest. For a mountain that has the highest peak in the world, many try to tackle it, but few ever reach its top. Through my journey of finding a deeper connection to God and seeing how much destruction all of my addictions did to my life, I have been able to ascend that mountain that Step 1 was for me. While Mount Everest’s pinnacle has only been reached by a small number throughout history, there are many in the rooms of recovery who have been able to reach the summit of Step 1 and are now able to look back at how far God has taken them in the healing from their addictions.
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson