My alcoholics anonymous sponsor is having me work on my 1st and 2nd steps of the 12 step program, and I would like to share some of my process with you. Everyone’s step work will be completely different, but I think it might help some people to see a real example written down.
Everyone’s alcoholics anonymous sponsor has different methods of going through the 12 steps, so if you are noticing that your steps work seems different then mine, don’t let that scare you.
When going through the steps, it is important to do so with a sponsor who has also been through the steps with their alcoholics anonymous sponsor. If you try to do the 12 steps yourself, the results will most likely be less beneficial.
That doesn’t mean you cannot read the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous or the Twelve and Twelve (which outlines the 12 steps and 12 traditions of AA in detail) on your own. It just means that you should really sit down with an alcoholics anonymous sponsor and go through the steps with him or her thoroughly and honestly.
My alcoholics anonymous sponsor asked me to define, for myself and in my own words and experiences, the powerlessness, unmanageability and insanity.She then asked me to try to write about some instances that may exemplify these terms and how they were, and are, relevant in my life.
- the inability to not use drugs or alcohol despite my best efforts and my previous plan to not use or drink. A lack of control. Feeling like I have to do something, and following through with this action, regardless of the fact that I truly don’t want to do it and really believed that I wouldn’t.
If someone is powerless, then by default, they must be dependent on someone or something else. For me, this was drugs and alcohol.
Near the end of my years of drinking and using drugs, I would wake up almost every day telling myself that I wasn’t going to drink or use drugs that day, but I would anyway. I truly didn’t want to use anymore, but within an hour of waking up, somehow I was back to drinking and using drugs.
I also wasn’t able to control how much I consumed once I started. I can’t remember a single time that I drank the amount I planned to drink. I would say I was only going to have one or two drinks, but I was never able to accomplish that.
The most recent and blatant example of powerlessness is when I relapsed. I didn’t necessarily think that I would only use once or anything like that, but I planned on using a small amount and I thought I would be able to stop when I wanted. One of the problems is that once I start using, I can’t stop and I don’t want to stop. I used for 5 days straight until I overdosed and ended up in the hospital and back in rehab.
This was obviously not my plan when I relapsed. I really thought I would just be able to get clean again on my own and go back to AA meetings. I literally used until all of the drugs I had were gone, and then I needed to get more. I felt like I had no control over it.
- Not being able to complete simple daily tasks. Having no balance or control in my everyday life.
My life can be unmanageable whether I’m drinking and using or not. When I drink and use, there is no question that my life is unmanageable. The only thing that matters is the drink or the drug. I literally do not care about anything else, and I start to neglect everyone else and everything else that does not help me get or stay high. I stop doing my school work, I stop going to class, and I stop caring about school altogether. I neglect my family and stop spending time with them. When I am drinking or using, all of the values and morals I hold completely disappear. I lie, I cheat, I steal, and it doesn’t even bother me.
My life can also be totally unmanageable even when I am not drinking or using. When I first got clean, I didn’t go to meetings and didn’t really do anything except stop drinking and using. I was still lying, cheating, neglecting my family and schoolwork, and I was absolutely miserable. I was the same person I was while I was actively using - I just couldn’t blame my behaviors on drugs and alcohol. It took me a really long time to realize that I can be just as miserable and just as selfish whether I’m using or not.
When I relapsed, I immediately stopped showing up for work, and did nothing but use all day. Within 5 days, I spent $1,500 and lost 12 pounds. When Sam asked me to give him the drugs I had left, I said no. He told me if I didn’t, he would leave. So I let him leave, and just continued to use. I was unable to have any kind of manageable or productive life, just in a few days.
- Believing that somehow my drinking or drug use would be different this time and that I would be able to control it.
No matter how many times or how many ways I tried to control my drinking or using, it never worked. The fact that I continued to believe, over and over again, that maybe somehow I could control it was insanity. It was helpful for me that my alcoholics anonymous sponsor had me write all of this out on paper.
When I relapsed, I truly believed that I would be able to use in moderation and that I would be able to quit whenever I wanted to. The fact that I could not quit until I was forced to (I overdosed and was forced into rehab) shows how utterly powerless I am over drugs and alcohol. The fact that I thought that I would not be powerless over drugs and alcohol this time is absolute insanity. Going through the steps with my alcoholics anonymous sponsor made all of this more obvious to me.