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Step One Thoughts & Memories
Ralp J, Northboro, MA
This oldtimer shares how Step One was a gateway to a new life.
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"The HOW of the program (Honest, Open-minded and Willing) . . . are for the first three Steps. "





"We learned we had to fully concede to our innermost selves that we were alcoholics."













"I felt bad because I drank too much, and I drank too much because I felt bad."


















". . . other than booze or damage control, I was expending little effort on my family or work."





However, to some this moment of truth comes much harder. I have seen greater devastation in my parents' life with no admission of powerlessness. My father said "I can't be an alcoholic; I don't like the taste of it." This with cracked up cars, jail, lost licenses in three states, and on and on. He fit the description in the Big Book (BB) on page 58, the beginning of Chapter 5. "men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates." Later in that paragraph it says that those with mental disorders can recover "if they have the capacity to be honest." My own experience with myself and my father clearly demonstrates the need for honesty. You could say it is a must. Is it true there are no musts in the AA?

I like reading the steps in the BB. Step 1 is all of Chapter 3 - "More About Alcoholism." This step is hard because it requires an admission that something is bigger than we are. From the 12x12 "Who cares to admit complete defeat?" or the BB, Chapter 3 says "We learned we had to fully concede to our innermost selves that we were alcoholics." Does "had to" sound like "must"? I really believe there are a multitude of musts if an alcoholic is to recover. They are not requirements for membership though. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. Seems to me a requirement is the same as a must since that desire requires at least the honesty to admit that alcohol is a problem. The BB gives the education needed to elevate the alcohol problem to alcoholic status.

So why is it so hard to make this admission? For me it was because I could not imagine life without alcohol. I felt so bad that I needed to drink to feel better. I couldn't stand to feel bad. Little did I realize I felt bad because I drank too much, and I drank too much because I felt bad. This was the dreaded merry-go-round. As the BB, pg 34, says "This is the baffling feature of alcoholism as we know it - this utter inability to leave it alone, no matter how great the necessity or the wish."

Spiritual principles will solve the alcoholism problem. This is what the literature tells me. And it is the spiritual concept of honesty that lets me recognize I am powerless over alcohol. Then I extend that spiritual concept of honesty to my power over many more situations in my life. And just as the alcohol problem has disappeared, many other problems did too. Honesty is a must!!

Once I admitted I was powerless over alcohol I could see how mismanaged my life had been. I had spent so much time managing things like:

•  Do I have enough booze?

•  Are the package stores open on Labor Day?

•  How can I explain my behavior last night?

•  I can't act as bad as I feel in front of others..

•  How can I get a nip before the noon business lunch?

•  What did I say to make my wife so mad?

•  How can I get a double at the wedding reception?

•  How can I sneak a drink at 2am when I awake with the shakes?

•  How do I explain to my boss why I am late with work?

•  Which excuse will I use for not going to work?

•  Which excuse did I use last time?

•  Where can I buy a bottle for my business trip?

•  And on and on . . .

I spent so much time on these issues that I had no time for more important things. My life was indeed unmanageable; in fact, other than booze or damage control, I was expending little effort on my family or work. Today, there are many things I attend to responsibly. I am trusted in that department of my life. I never was before.

I am grateful to have learned what I have just shared with you readers. I am glad that my efforts in AA Steps saved my marriage, now in its 44th year.

I pray for continued honesty and manageability in my life and yours. God bless

Ralph J, Northboro, MA. Ralph has been active in 12 Step Program living for almost 18 years. Ralph's hobbies include playing the banjo and playing with his granddaughter.

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