When I was new to sobriety, everything was overwhelming. I looked at the Steps on the wall, and it seemed impossible to me. Not so much Step 1. I knew I was an alcoholic, and my life had definitely become unmanageable. It was the next two steps that threw me. Step 2 told me that I would come to believe that a Power greater than me could restore me to sanity. I didn’t believe it. First, I didn’t think I was insane. Second, the God of my understanding at the time did not get involved in individual lives. He’d created us with Free Will and depended on us to solve our own problems. Step 3 said I would give my life and my Will over to this Higher Power. The more I listened to what people said about it, the more skeptical I became. They kept talking about surrender! That was not my style.
But I was in trouble. I needed help. I couldn’t get or stay sober on my own. I’d tried AA before and failed at it. This time, I was truly desperate to quit, and I was finally willing to do what was suggested. So, I swallowed my pride and tried to do those first three steps with my sponsor. It was a long battle. The same thing played out at least once a month – over and over again.
Something would happen that upset me. I’d stew about it and try to figure out how to “fix” it. I’d try this and then that. Nothing solved the problem. I stayed upset. Talking to my sponsor about it every day, she’d finally ask what I was getting out of being upset. She was speaking Greek. She suggested I try the steps. How would that fix anything? So, on my own, I’d keep fighting for my way. I’d be angry at everyone. No one understood me or how unique I was. They couldn’t understand how complex my problem was. I knew I could figure it out.
I didn’t figure it out. I just kept being upset. I starting thinking maybe I was insane after all. The people at AA weren’t upset all the time. They had a way to solve their problems. They let go of them. They gave them to their Higher Power and went about their business. They didn’t stay upset. They were content and happy.
So, after about two weeks of trying to swim upstream, I’d finally get on my knees and give the problem to a God I didn’t really trust. I’d try hard to stop thinking about it. I tried to go about my business. At first, giving my problem to God would last a few minutes at best. In no time, I was obsessing about it again and getting upset. But I’d gotten some relief, so I got down on my knees and let go of it again. Maybe a few more minutes of relief. Every time I gave my Higher Power my problem, the relief lasted longer. I could focus on being sober rather than being upset.
It took months for me to begin to trust that letting go of my problem would solve it. For all those months, I was doing the 1-2-3 Waltz. I was going through the first three steps over and over again. (I can’t. He can. I’ll let Him.) Over time, it got easier. Over an even longer time, it started getting automatic. I’d learned that letting go of my problem, giving it to God, actually worked. Over time, I went from suffering for a couple of weeks before I’d let go to suffering for minutes and letting go.
I’d finally learned that my way isn’t the best way. It’s certainly not the easiest. What is easy is trusting my Higher Power to lead me where I need to be. When I surrender, things turn out so much better than they ever have. I can stop worrying and obsessing. I can just live my life, knowing that there is a better way – knowing that if I just trust and go on with my day, the problem will cease to be a problem. I don’t have to fix anything. I don’t have to have my way. In fact, getting my way is usually the worst thing for me in the long run.
So, this week, I’d like to hear your experience with the first three steps. Did you or do you do the 1-2-3 Waltz like I did? What did you or are you learning about living sober? Of course, please share on anything you need to this week.