Step One: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.
The first step is about admitting that I don’t have control. It’s about realizing and admitting that my life is unmanageable.
I want to say, “But I do this and this and this – I manage my life just fine.” Except I drank about a week ago. It’s time to step back and take a hard look at my life and what I’m trying to manage in it.
“Who cares to admit complete defeat…” I have tried, time and again, to give up my will – to surrender and admit complete defeat. But I have a disease called alcoholism, and this disease wants me to believe that I’m not sick. It wants me to believe that I’m perfectly fine and everything is roses.
But that’s not true.
When I’m drinking, everything is chaos, and the chaos is easy to see. But even when I’m sober, everything is chaos, much as I would have you believe otherwise. I want to believe (and I want you to believe) that I have everything under control (especially when I’m sober), but the fact is, I’m a kite dancing in a hurricane.
I am a solitary figure being acted upon by powerful forces that are out of my control. And I need to get smart and shape up if I want to stay sober.
Powerful Force #1 – Self-Sufficiency
I have the gift (or curse) of self-sufficiency. I can do everything all by myself. I don’t need your help. I don’t need help ever. I believe I am perfectly capable of not only getting sober all by myself, I “should” be able to work multiple jobs and take care of the household (groceries, dinner, cleaning, etc.) by myself.
I work from home, after all…shouldn’t I be able to also run errands and cook a nice meal at the end of the day? Why not tack on a few freelance jobs? I can look after my mental health another day. I can worry about self care tomorrow.
Self-sufficiency is a powerful wind in my life, and it creates the most chaos because it requires me to stay in control of everything. It requires me to refuse offered help. It requires me to isolate.
I am learning this is a force run riot in me. I am not in control of it.
Powerful Force #2 – Alcoholism/Addiction
Just because I stop drinking doesn’t mean I stop acting like a drunk/addict. Even sober, I behave impulsively and rashly. I say stupid things before I think. I act in my own selfish interest.
All this causes chaos in my life. It means people honk at me on the road when I drive like a maniac. It means I spend too much at the grocery store. Sometimes it means I say snotty things to my husband and get snippy replies back.
I need to recognize that my alcoholism/addiction is a force that I cannot control.
Powerful Force #3 – Bipolar
I must recognize that I am not in control of my mental illness. I can do things to manage the symptoms, but the fact is, I am no more in control of my brain chemistry than I am in control of the weather.
I take medication, I exercise, I try to watch what I eat, I try to get a good night’s rest…I work very hard to manage my bipolar symptoms. Yet they still manage to affect my day-to-day life in a serious way.
I am not in control.
It’s a scary thing for me to admit. The truth is I feel like I’m holding onto too many leashes. Some of the monsters are behaving. Some of them are acting up. Some of them are twisting around my feet – just waiting for the chance to bolt and pull my feet out from under me.
Step one doesn’t require anything but an admission of “I can’t.” But that’s a difficult thing to do! Especially for self-sufficient people like me. Yet, it is necessary. I must strip myself down to bedrock in order to become willing to change.
I am terrified that I will continue to drink, so my prayer in the mornings is this: Lord, I can’t. You can. Help me to change.