Jan 03: Step 1

I was in total denial of my alcoholism for most of my drinking. There was a lot of evidence confirming how unmanageable my life was due to alcohol, but I would not – could not – accept that I was an alcoholic. I felt justified in the amount of alcohol I consumed because if you’d been through what I’d experienced while growing up you’d also drink the way I drank! And of course, hanging out with people who also drank alcoholically allowed me to pretend I drank normally, even though the non-alcoholics in my life knew otherwise and occasionally tried to tell me. The fact that I was never an everyday drinker, I’d never lost a job due to alcohol, and I never drank in the morning fuelled my denial, helping me to refuse to believe I was an alcoholic.

However, after drinking alcoholically for about ten years I started blacking out almost every time I drank. I also got behind the wheel of a car more frequently when drunk. But even the horrors I went through after coming to from a blackout, e.g., not knowing how I ended up wherever I was, not knowing what I’d done with the person sleeping next to me, being so physically ill that I couldn’t even keep down water (I believe I came close to poisoning myself one time with the amount of alcohol I’d drunk), couldn’t penetrate my denial. I wasn’t an alcoholic, and there was no way I was going to give up a substance that allowed me to be “the real me” – hah!

 And then I came to one morning in mid-August 1989 in an apartment in South Philadelphia; I had no idea how I’d got there. As I was stumbling around trying to get dressed I heard a voice in my head which said in a measured tone, “That’s it.”, and I thought, “What does that mean??” Once more the voice said, “That’s it”, and instantaneously I knew I was an alcoholic and that if I continued drinking I’d end up in jail (I’d already been in jail briefly in CA), an asylum, or a morgue. I left that apartment and called George, a guy I believe my HP had put in my life in order to help me but in the guise of being my mother’s boyfriend (he’d been sober six years when she started dating him). And while I’ve never had a drink since that day, I continued taking mind and mood-altering substances until April 1991 so I changed my sobriety date to the first day I was alcohol and drug-free, which is April 8, 1991.

 I feel fortunate that I’ve never wanted to do more “research” regarding my inability to control my drinking. The veil of denial was lifted completely that day in August 1989, for which I’m extremely grateful. And even though the thought of taking a drink (or two, or three…) has entered my mind a few times over the years, I’ve been able to think it through and see that the problem, person, etc. that’s making me want to escape into alcoholic oblivion is not going to disappear after I take a drink, and the situation will surely only get worse. Do I want that? NO! That’s the difference between now and when I was in denial; I never thought it through, never questioned what the end result would be once I started drinking. Thank God the result is very clear to me these days, due in part to memories of the excruciatingly embarrassing, physically dangerous, and at times criminal acts I committed while drinking. The person who did those things is not the person I want to be, and the only way I can continue to move toward the person I want to be is by continuing to go to meetings, practicing the steps/principles in all my affairs, doing service, and following my conscience, which is something I rarely did before getting sober.

 I’ve heard many stories of how people came to accept Step 1, each one different from the other. But no matter how we come to embrace it (and perhaps have to go back to it), I know from my experience that I had to fully accept my powerlessness over alcohol before I could continue with the other Steps and gain an understanding of all that AA offers.

 Thanks for letting me be of service. The meeting is now open to those who would like to share on the topic of Step 1.