Forum Article – Step One

The Forum, Al-Anon’s monthly magazine, contains many personal stories of inspiration. Articles from members present their personal views and experiences. Opinions expressed here are not attributable to Al-Anon as a whole. In keeping with Tradition Eleven, individuals are identified by first names and last initials only.

“The day I started over with Step One”

GrandmotherFor over five years, I had thought Step One was easy: “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.” I certainly felt powerless, and I wasn’t managing my life very well. Then one day, in yet another attempt to help my alcoholic daughter, I had an epiphany.
On this particular day, my helpfulness involved finding a book in my library that I was sure my daughter would find relevant. Only instead of finding that particular book, I found a journal I had written nearly a decade ago, before finding Al‑Anon. I re-read entries about my daughter’s addictions, and was shocked and saddened to realize that nothing had changed. That day, I started over with Step One.

“I had never really admitted I was powerless over alcohol. I had continually tried to influence, manipulate, and change my alcoholic daughter’s behavior, rather than my own.”

First, I knew now that I had never really admitted I was powerless over alcohol. I had continually tried to influence, manipulate, and change my alcoholic daughter’s behavior, rather than my own. The search for a book for my daughter was just one example of this. In trying to influence my daughter, I had been clinging to an illusion of power. For the first time, I truly understood that I am powerless, and that the only behavior I can change is my own.

Second, my life had become unmanageable. In truth, I hadn’t been managing my own life for a long time. I vowed to get a life, and began to work with my Sponsor to identify what that would mean. I made a list of the things that bring me joy. Music, travel, yoga, spending time with my grandchildren, and Al‑Anon service work topped my list. With so much to do, I don’t have time to manage anyone but me!

I am a work in progress, of course. I catch myself hoping that my new understanding of the First Step will have a positive effect on others. Then I remember that this time, it’s all about me. I am powerless over alcohol. My life had become unmanageable. Knowing this, really knowing it, is my First Step toward serenity.

By Kathy H., Nebraska
The Forum, February 2014

Al-Anon’s monthly magazine, The Forum, contains many personal stories of inspiration, some of which are made available each month on the Internet. This sharing was reprinted with permission of The Forum, Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., Virginia Beach, VA.

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