The day I started over with Step One

For over five years, I had thought Step One was easy: “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.” I certainly felt powerless, and I wasn’t managing my life very well. Then one day, in yet another attempt to help my alcoholic daughter, I had an epiphany.

On this particular day, my helpfulness involved finding a book in my library that I was sure my daughter would find relevant. Only instead of finding that particular book, I found a journal I had written nearly a decade ago, before finding Al‑Anon. I re-read entries about my daughter’s addictions, and was shocked and saddened to realize that nothing had changed. That day, I started over with Step One.

First, I knew now that I had never really admitted I was powerless over alcohol. I had continually tried to influence, manipulate, and change my alcoholic daughter’s behavior, rather than my own. The search for a book for my daughter was just one example of this. In trying to influence my daughter, I had been clinging to an illusion of power. For the first time, I truly understood that I am powerless, and that the only behavior I can change is my own.

Second, my life had become unmanageable. In truth, I hadn’t been managing my own life for a long time. I vowed to get a life, and began to work with my Sponsor to identify what that would mean. I made a list of the things that bring me joy. Music, travel, yoga, spending time with my grandchildren, and Al‑Anon service work topped my list. With so much to do, I don’t have time to manage anyone but me!

I am a work in progress, of course. I catch myself hoping that my new understanding of the First Step will have a positive effect on others. Then I remember that this time, it’s all about me. I am powerless over alcohol. My life had become unmanageable. Knowing this, really knowing it, is my First Step toward serenity.

By Kathy H., Nebraska
The Forum, February 2014