The Regmaker magazine, often called a “meeting in print”, publishes articles that reflect the full diversity of experience and opinion found within the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. AA members have been submitting their personal stories, their sorrows and joys, their ups and downs and in betweens to the Regmaker for many years. The Regmaker is your magazine and nearly half of every issue is written by AA members who have never written before.
TAKE THE FIRST STEP
When I took Step one the first time in a rehabilitation centre, I was asked to narrate four situations in length that described how my life had become unmanageable. I described facts which, when objectively looked at by an innocent bystander, shouted “out of control” and “unmanageable”.
Years later my sponsor gave me an article to read. This completely changed my understanding of and the way I look at step one. Step one, read in the first person, says: “I admitted that I was powerless over alcohol and that my life had become unmanageable”. It does not say that my work, finances and my relationships had become unmanageable. No it says “MY LIFE”.
I came to the realisation that the test for “manageable” is a subjective test which applies to the “inner self”. I could no longer manage my own life because I had reached a state where I could no longer help myself. I had reached the proverbial “rock bottom”. That is why we find in the rooms many people who still have their families, jobs, and wealth at the time that they embark on the journey of the 12 Steps.
I was not out on the streets when I entered the rooms either. My family still put up with me in the same house although this had become a great burden to them. The point is that I could not help myself and nor could they.
I had hit rock bottom when I realised that I could no longer depend on myself, and that I needed help. I needed it desperately. Alcohol had become my master. It dictated my every thought. It dictated my very next move. Whether it was pouring a drink or making plans to buy alcohol or how to get it into the house without being caught out, or finding a new place to hide my purchase. Everything I did and every thought that entered my mind was about alcohol.
I had crossed the imaginary line. Although I did not comprehend this at the time, I knew I was defeated. I was the victim of a mental obsession so great that to this day the medical science has been unable to find a drug to cure or even manage it.
Once I admitted my powerlessness and my inability to manage my own life, I continued with the rest of the 12 Steps with the help of a dedicated sponsor. I was amazed before I was half way through. For my mental obsession with alcohol was lifted. I was no longer being haunted by constant thoughts of alcohol. But my “life” was still the same. Inside I felt “empty”. I did not know how to live life on life’s terms. I was still finding comfort by remaining in the shadows. When I ventured out into the world, dark clouds of painful shame immediately descended upon me. I could not see a ray of sunshine anywhere. This is why completing the 12 Steps is so important my dear reader. This is why I want you to discover the miracle for yourself. Because as I proceeded with the steps, the promises of the Big Book started to unfold for me. Gradually as I faced the real me for the first time and “cleaned house”, the debris of guilt, shame and estrangement was removed.
I discovered for the first time in my life a sense of inner calm and peace. I learned later that what had happened to me was that I had
a spiritual experience. I had found God. God was inside me and the void was filled. My life had become manageable again. And people “on the outside” was starting to remark on it. For now that “my life on the inside” was manageable, it looked manageable on the outside too. The symptoms of a spiritual malady had vanished. And that is the purpose of our precious Big Book: that one should find God. A God of one’s own understanding. But the “Twelve Steps” is a journey that never ends if I want to remain a recovered alcoholic one day at a time.
And for the person who, for today is a recovered alcoholic, one of the most important sentences in the Big Book is that “the alcoholic is like the man who has lost both his legs, they can never grow back”. Whether today you have six months of sobriety or sixty years of sobriety behind you, a relapse is only “12 Steps” away. One lady said it so apt one night: “It is a program from which we can never retire”.
Everything worthwhile takes work. My sobriety is no different. I do the work and let God do the rest. I have to trust my Director, for self-reliance led me to lose of myself. A.A. led me to the God of my understanding. The God of my understanding gave me back “my life”. Today I no longer walk on the dark side of the street. I bask in the sunlight on the other side of the street. My miracle began when I took the first step…