Jan 13: Step One

Step One

It is January, and many women have already shared on Step One. However, in our October business meeting, we considered dedicating one week of each month to the corresponding step. We will discuss this again in April. I’d love to hear what you think about dedicating one meeting each month to the corresponding step.

It’s January, so Step One is on the table. I never doubted that I was an alcoholic. I was compulsively drawn to anything that took my feelings away long before I ever tasted alcohol. When I finally did have my first drink, I got drunk. I loved it. It made me sociable and sexy. I was able to talk to people. I could dance better. I could play pool (between the second and third drink). I never had one or two drinks. I always got drunk. That was the goal. So, when I got to AA, my powerlessness over mind-altering substances was not an issue.

The unmanageability of my life was. For a very long time, I was high-functioning despite my dependence on booze, pot, pills, food. I didn’t miss work. It was my punishment for getting so drunk the night before. I got promotions and raises. My friends were all partiers, too, so no one noticed how much I drank. For many years, I was able to fake it through life. Never mind two failed marriages, childlessness, aimlessness. I somehow made it look okay. That went on for over 30 years before it all began to catch up with me.

I’d already tried AA once – to get my husband off my back. I wasn’t sincere. I still wanted to drink, and I did. I went to meetings every day for three years, and I drank every day, too. I pretended to be part of AA, but I had unspoken contempt for people who could do what I could not. After three years of this, I got to treatment and managed 15 months without a drink (although I cheated with Nyquil). When I relapsed, I swore I’d never go back to AA. Little did I know my drinking would bring me back.

A five-year relapse brought me to my knees. My life got very unmanageable. The promotions, awards, and raises had long since ended. I didn’t party with others anymore. I drank alone in front of the TV. I had to check the bath towels to know if I’d bathed the night before and check the kitchen sick to know if I’d eaten. I drank and drove often. Thank God I never killed anyone. I couldn’t go more than one day without drinking. I used to joke that if I could make it a week, I could make years. That turned out to be true.

Finally, I married a man I’d never had a date with who didn’t speak much English. He wanted a green card and my money. He got both. I was delusional. I was doing my part to help the Third World. When asked why I married him, I told them I didn’t have anything better to do at the time. That’s how much I valued myself. After three months of pretend marriage and a couple of attempts on his life, God showed me what I had become – a foul-mouthed fire-breathing, hateful, raging drunk woman. I couldn’t be that woman anymore. It was time to go back to AA.

I was terrified I’d go through another three years of meetings and drinking. I was broken and hopeless. I didn’t believe AA would work for me, but I’d run out of options. It was all that was left. So, I went, and I listened, and I cried. This time, I wasn’t pretending. I was desperate. I wanted what you had but had no hope of getting it. Even so, I did what people suggested. Why not? Nothing I’d done on my own had helped. I was finally willing to do Step One with all my heart.

That was over 22 years ago. I didn’t have to go through that feared three years. When I left my first meeting, the compulsion to drink was gone. The obsession was not, but I finally had a choice. I was one of the “slowly” variety. It took years for me to feel some hope. I cried regularly in meetings for at least the first two years. It took a year to get the Peruvian out of my house and life. Everything was a struggle. In my first year, I lost my beloved cat, and then I lost my best friend to breast cancer. But I didn’t drink.

It wasn’t easy. But it was simple. AA gave me the Steps and a sponsor to help me work them. My sponsor ‘tricked’ me into service positions, so I began to feel like a part of AA. The online community, you women, kept me sober even when I wasn’t sane. I got to meet some of you personally, a true blessing of the program. The program gave me written instructions in the Big Book and many people who had been there to show me the way. I think I was maybe five years sober when I realized the promises were coming true even for me.

I can have it all again. All I have to do is pick up a drink. There is no doubt in my mind that I would not be able to stop again. That’s what I think of whenever I think about having “just one” drink. I never had just one. I am sure I would die an alcoholic death. But what I am more afraid of is living an alcoholic life. So, every time I think of picking up, I do Step One all over again. I play the tape all the way through. I know where it ends. No need to experiment or do more research.

I invite you to share your story with us this week. What brought you to AA? What keeps you here?

Thank you for letting me share, danna