I talked to my sponsor this weekend and we agreed that now seems like a good time for me to go back through the 12 steps of AA. The decision is not based on anything bad happening or any negative thoughts (at least no more than usual) on my part. It’s just because a lot has changed since I went through the steps last year, and while I continue to do the maintenance steps (10, 11, and 12) each day, I don’t ever want to take it for granted that “I’ve done” the steps of the program. In my experience, it’s when I think that I have something figured out and that I no longer need to work on it, that trouble appears. And these days, I really try not to invite disaster into my life.
The first time that I began the steps of AA, I was terrified. I was in treatment and I was told that we had to complete steps one, two, and three before we left. That seemed very daunting when I read the steps, and that was only the first three! I wasn’t even close to ready to entertain four through twelve.
The first step talks about admitting powerlessness and unmanageability. I knew that things in my life had become unmanageable, but was I really powerless? I was weak, for sure, but wasn’t I just lacking self-control and willpower? And couldn’t they just teach me those things? The step seemed almost contradictory to what I thought it should be. Shouldn’t the first step build us up? Teach us to be strong? It seemed like strength is what we needed. But no, instead the first step forced us to look at just how weak we really were.
Then there’s step two, “Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” So that meant that I was currently insane and that I had to trust someone else to fix me. Obviously, I knew that I had issues, I was in rehab after all. But isn’t the word “insanity” a little bit strong? Also, at the time, I didn’t think that there was anyone that I could trust. There wasn’t really anyone in my life who hadn’t hurt me or let me down. So, I didn’t know how in the world I was going to get past this step.
Step three was the killer though: Made a decision to turn our lives and our will over to the care of God as we understood Him. Ugh. I didn’t even know where to begin with this one. Again, I was not even sure what I believed, and I sure didn’t want to turn my will over, to anyone. It felt, at the time, like that was what I had been doing for the previous 39 years of my life, turning my will over to someone else. I wanted to be in control of my own will, the maker of my own destiny. That sounds a little (a lot) cliché and silly, but that’s really what I wanted. I still thought that I could handle things on my own, if only someone would teach me not to drink so much.
It’s so crazy to remember how I felt back then. I thought that I was willing because I knew I needed some help, but really I fought every step of the way. I realize now that my therapist was an angel with an extraordinary amount of patience. Thank God she was a recovering alcoholic too, and she knew what to expect from drunks like me!
This time, I am looking forward to going through the steps. What a difference a couple of years makes! I understand the program more now and I am much more honest and open with my feelings. I also have a little bit of sobriety under my belt and am thinking clearly. I thought that as I go through the steps this time, I would blog about it. I won’t bore everyone with all of the gory details of each step, but I think it will be good for me to write about how I feel, and how things are different this time, as I go through them.
I will meet with my sponsor this week, so Step One starts soon…