How do I know if step 1 is done?

The 12 Steps are the AA program of recovery from alcoholism.
RustyS
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How do I know if step 1 is done?

Post by RustyS »

Hi, my name is Rusty, and I'm an alcoholic.

So, real life is hard for me to deal with. I'm working on it. I'm going to try to find a f2f sponsor. I'm going to another meeting tonight. But in the mean time could you guys help me out?

I think I've completed the first step. How do I know if I've actually completed it? I'm reading the BB. I'm in the 4th chapter. I've listened to the Joe and Charlie mp3's up to the "Doctor's Opinion". I admit I'm an alcoholic. Here's my short story: http://www.e-aa.org/forum/viewtopic.php ... 113#p58942

Thanks.

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leejosepho
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Re: How do I know if step 1 is done?

Post by leejosepho »

RustyS wrote:I think I've completed the first step. How do I know if I've actually completed it?
First, always keep this in mind:

"The wording was, of course, quite optional so long as we expressed the idea, voicing it without reservation." (page 63)

That fits "across-the-board" while taking the Steps.

Step One is actually very simple, and it really had to be in the early days of A.A. when most folks were "last-gaspers", so to speak. If you ever get the opportunity, give a listen to Jack Brennan's story of crawling out of a filthy public bathroom and barely being able to ask a passerby to "call A.A." for him. And so, Step One simply amounts to this:

"... (a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives." (page 60)

Specifically:

We could not control our drinking after we got started (a seeming "allergic reaction" where one drink demands another);
We could not remain abstinent after we had stopped (because we were "irritable, restless and discontent" while sober);
We could not manage our own lives into "happy, joyous and free" (page 133) to replace that in order to never again have to drink.

Admitting and accepting those simple facts about ourselves is the entirety of Step One, and just about everything in the book prior to Chapter Four is there so we can see that both for ourselves and about ourselves while hearing the shared experience of others just like ourselves ...

... and as a "fringe benefit" for me at Step One, I was honestly shocked to thereby discover I was not the only one like me in this world.

Some treatment centers and maybe even an occasional sponsor will ask for pages of documentation or "homework" where the specific details and/or one's own examples of the above get written out, but I have never found that necessary since I was no longer trying to deny I had already lived it ... and other people had already written it all down in "A.A.", the book, anyway!

Note: In days ahead, you will likely find you can copy-and-paste even your own story almost straight out of that book, and I think that is really neat!
=======================
"We A.A.s do not *stay* away from drinking [one day at a
time] -- we *grow* away from drinking [one day at a time]."
("Lois Remembers", page 168, quoting Bill, emphasis added)
=======================

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PaigeB
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Re: How do I know if step 1 is done?

Post by PaigeB »

Excellent reply Lee!
Cling to the thought that, in God's hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have - the key to life and happiness for others. With it you can avert death and misery for them. page 124 BB

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leejosepho
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Re: How do I know if step 1 is done?

Post by leejosepho »

PaigeB wrote:Excellent reply Lee!
Mostly academic, but he is already getting the best stuff from the book! :wink:
=======================
"We A.A.s do not *stay* away from drinking [one day at a
time] -- we *grow* away from drinking [one day at a time]."
("Lois Remembers", page 168, quoting Bill, emphasis added)
=======================

RustyS
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Re: How do I know if step 1 is done?

Post by RustyS »

Thanks Lee. I'm still studying the BB. It's sort of become my Bible. I read it every day and I'm been listening to the Joe and Charlie mp3's every day.

At my meeting last night that was a young woman visiting our group. Her home group meeting conflicted with a baseball game she wanted to watch so she came to ours because it was earlier. First she said that she had 6.5 months of sobriety, then she admitted that she still stuggled with whether or not she was an alcoholic. She said she was an alcoholic but that the thought still entered her mind that she might be able to control her drinking. I was glad for her that she could talk about it. It probably helps her that she can admit it amongst supportive people.

I'm guessing this is why we have to go to meetings, work the steps, then perform service for the rest of our lives if we are to remain sober. To constantly remind ourselves that we are alcoholics.

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Re: How do I know if step 1 is done?

Post by Lali »

One thing I learned in AA but did not (would not) put into practice is to share with the group when you're struggling. I've been sober a little while and at first, for the first year or so really, it felt kinda easy quite frankly. I wondered how long it could stay that way. But whenever I have struggled I have refused to share it with the group due to pride. I finally realized that I'm jeopardizing my life for foolish pride. In a situation where everyone would understand my struggle, no less!!
Step 1: I can't
Step 2: He can
Step 3: I think I'll let him

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leejosepho
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Re: How do I know if step 1 is done?

Post by leejosepho »

RustyS wrote:At my meeting last night that was a young woman visiting our group ... she admitted that she still struggled with whether or not she was an alcoholic. She said she was an alcoholic but that the thought still entered her mind that she might be able to control her drinking.
There is where it is important to understand there are *two* aspects of alcoholism to be acknowledged at Step One:

We cannot control our drinking once we begin (physical);
We cannot leave it alone after we stop (mental, emotional, etc.)

The troubles that come to us because of our drinking can sometimes make us think we might have a problem with alcohol, but even people who are *not* truly-alcoholic have troubles because of their drinking ...

"Moderate drinkers have little trouble in giving up liquor entirely if they have good reason for it. They can take it or leave it alone.
"Then we have a certain type of hard drinker. He (or she) may have the habit badly enough to gradually impair him physically and mentally. It may cause him to die a few years before his time. (But if) a sufficiently strong reason - ill health, falling in love, change of environment, or the warning of a doctor - becomes operative, this man can also stop or moderate [just like the moderate drinker], although he may find it difficult and troublesome and may even need medical attention.
"But what about the real alcoholic? He may start off as a moderate drinker; he may or may not become a continuous hard drinker; but at some stage of his drinking career he begins to lose all control of his liquor consumption, once he starts to drink [and the physical 'phenomenon of craving' begins to develop].
"Here is the fellow who has been puzzling you ..." (pages 20-21)

We certainly do not need to figure everyone else out in order to take Step One, but we sure do need to know certain facts about ourselves, and the matter of THIQ seems to many of us to explain the physical part of our puzzling past. At least briefly here:

Alcohol is a poison to the human body, and the human body deals with that by ultimately metabolizing it into carbon dioxide (released through the lungs), water (released through urination) and sugar (either burned for energy or stored in fatty tissue). I first heard at least some of this from "Charlie & Joe", and maybe you have also heard some of it. In any case, it seems we are *physically* alcoholic because our bodies do not produce enough enzymes of a sufficient quality to break alcohol down quickly enough to keep it (in an enzyme-altered form) from combining with the dopamine in our brains and producing and ever-accumulating amount of tetrahydroisoquinoline (THIQ), an addictive alkaloid, in our brains that is then "triggered" even more greatly to physically demand even more alcohol the *next* time we drink (even after a lengthy period of sobriety).

The young woman you had mentioned is certainly far from being the only one of us who ever thought we might yet somehow be able to overcome that, and that is why we can now read this in our book of experience:

"Most of us have been unwilling to admit we were *real* alcoholics ... bodily (physically) and mentally (in the sanity department about that) different from his fellows." (page 30)

Comprende? Step One is the place where we finally learn, admit and accept some hard facts about being real alcoholics who will never again ever be able to drink safely, and who will die in our stupors if we do not find the sanity to accept that and find a way (The Steps) to remain abstinent forevermore.
RustyS wrote:I was glad for her that she could talk about it. It probably helps her that she can admit it amongst supportive people.
Sure, because then maybe they can talk about themselves in ways that can help her see her own, identical deal ... and in the meantime, she is *not* in denial! Denial is only a factor when someone already knows the actual truth, and she simply has yet to learn and comprehend.
RustyS wrote:I'm guessing this is why we have to go to meetings, work the steps ...
Keep reading the book and you will find no such thing suggested there. Rather, "Here are the Steps we *took* ...", and there really is a huge difference between *taking* the Steps and "working" them (but that is all I will say about that for now rather than to get another big debate started)!
RustyS wrote:... then perform service for the rest of our lives if we are to remain sober.
I was told to just keep doing this stuff until it actually became enjoyable ... and I have long since forgotten all about trying to remain sober! :wink:
RustyS wrote:To constantly remind ourselves that we are alcoholics.
That is not at the core of maintaining actual recovery, but yes, let us sanely never forget and/or fail to share the facts about ourselves.
=======================
"We A.A.s do not *stay* away from drinking [one day at a
time] -- we *grow* away from drinking [one day at a time]."
("Lois Remembers", page 168, quoting Bill, emphasis added)
=======================

Sally
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Re: How do I know if step 1 is done?

Post by Sally »

Rusty- i have a little different take on this-
in my neck of the woods- in AA - we do written homework with Step 1-
It's a time line - when did i last drink- then add who-what why- where-and when
to the best of my ability/memory- as much detail as i can remember and separate events- -
i walk myself back through my drinking career - putting as much detail as i can remember
into drinking events- alot ran together when there were times i was drinking daily-
and for me- after college- it was almost all alone drinking--

my sponsor explained this is an exercise in identifying powerlessness
as much as showing me just how much drinking i did-
and of course it was very useful when i got to the 4th.
the first time i did this in 83- i lost all denial of powerlessness.
Sally

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Re: How do I know if step 1 is done?

Post by Lali »

My timeline would go something like this:

Started in March 1990 and didn't finish 'til April 4, 2009.

Seriously, wouldn't it be easier if we wrote when we WEREN'T drinking?
Step 1: I can't
Step 2: He can
Step 3: I think I'll let him

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Re: How do I know if step 1 is done?

Post by RustyS »

Thanks all. I'll keep meditating on it.

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Re: How do I know if step 1 is done?

Post by ann2 »

I do step 1, 2 and 3 over and over again, working with sponsees. I also did them over again before starting my first 4th step inventory. Basically, there is so much that can be done with those steps -- meditating, experience, sharing, reading, self-discovery in journal writing . . . wow.

But I did take the first three steps, on a very elemental basis, when I first read the BB. There was thought involved, there was an inner shift, there was something new in me after I took them. I admitted I was alcoholic -- at first, it was just about turning over my uniqueness. I in fact never admitted the unmanagability in my life until much later!! Hold out there. Came to believe -- that was about coming up with an acceptable version of God for me. It means many different things to other people, and I'm sure it would have meant something different to me if I had been older, younger, single, married, divorced, an only child, a mother, etc. etc. etc. But having a concept was the route I took.

Step 3 I found out later I did all wrong, because I didn't advance immediately to step 4. However, I kept doing step 3. It was my direction in life. I think it took me 16 years to make the decision. But it wasn't wasted time by any means. Anyway God got me there in the end, right? :-)

I'm really grateful for my experience with the steps, really really grateful it happened the way it did. When I work with sponsees online, using the Big Book and questions devised for study, I keep waiting for that personal thing to be expressed in what they write to me. That inner ownership of those steps. See if you can feel you have taken them on that level.

Ann
"If I don't take twenty walks, Billy Beane send me to Mexico" -- Miguel Tejada

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Re: How do I know if step 1 is done?

Post by avaneesh912 »

I ask myself these 3 questions:

Can I relate to the obsession of the mind? The queer mental twist that precedes the 1st drink?

Can I relate to the phenomenon of craving? after the 1st drink, did I most of them time lost control of the amount of alcohol i put in my body?

Can I relate to the spiritual malady? Being restless, irritable and discontented?

Check, Check and Check.
Show him the mental twist which leads to the first drink of a spree. We suggest you do this as we have done it in the chapter on alcoholism.(Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)

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Re: How do I know if step 1 is done?

Post by RustyS »

Thanks all, I appreciate your responses. They helped.

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leejosepho
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Re: How do I know if step 1 is done?

Post by leejosepho »

ann2 wrote:I do step 1, 2 and 3 over and over again, working with sponsees ...
Yes, absolutely! One of the neatest little stories I ever heard came from "Wino Joe", I think, and it goes something like this ...

I had a dream the other night, where I found myself lying in front of a gate at the beginning of a path I had heard about ... but I could not get that gate open. Someone else then came along, and I asked whether he might help me get through that gate.

"Certainly," said the other, "I cannot just step over you in order to walk that path myself!"

As we walked that path together, more gates appeared along the way ... and before long, I was opening them almost by myself.

Then one day I found myself at the path's Twelfth Gate, and I soon found myself helping someone else lying across the path in front of it so we could all continue on together.
=======================
"We A.A.s do not *stay* away from drinking [one day at a
time] -- we *grow* away from drinking [one day at a time]."
("Lois Remembers", page 168, quoting Bill, emphasis added)
=======================

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Marc L
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Re: How do I know if step 1 is done?

Post by Marc L »

Hi Rusty;
I'm Marc and I'm an Alcoholic.
That is a question you can answer for yourself.
Some time ago on this here forum there was mention of a FAQ.
So, I have begun building a (F)requently (A)sked (Q)uestions series of pages for my site.

How do you know if step one is done?

Well... What do you think Step One means and How does it apply to you.
Put it in writing using examples from your drinking experience.
Convince me you are a real alcoholic. :D

Marc
Recovery won't just happen by Osmosis. You gonna' have to work at it some.
12th Step work ain't just a job... It's an Adventure.

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