Step 1 - Powerless, but with a bad memory

12 Steps: Discussions related to the 12 Steps and using them as a treatment to recover from alcohol and drug addiction.
Posts: 409
Joined: Mon Apr 17, 2006 3:42 pm
Location: Long Island, NY

Step 1 - Powerless, but with a bad memory

Postby anniemac » Fri Jul 21, 2006 1:40 pm

Hi everyone,

On the Second Step thread, Jim W. posted that when someone feels they are having a problem with a Step, the problem is really with Step 1.

I hear it said that Step 1 is the only Step that needs to be taken perfectly.

When I think back on my drinking, I have example after example of the typical powerlessness. I know that if I pick up a drink, all bets are off as to what will transpire. I know I am an alcoholic and I have known from the get-go that I never want to drink again.

I can develop a case of such arrogance, however, that it blocks me off from God and puts me right back in the driver's seat. I'll be honest here, although I hate to admit that I think this way: on some level, I seriously think that I don't have to do the same footwork as everyone else, that I'm special, that I'm smarter, all that ego-centric crap that swirls around. I know that's dangerous thinking. I'm finally getting tired of thinking that way.

So my question, I suppose, is - what do I do? I would think that maybe I need to recommit to Step 3. Or do another 4th step on my ego. Or revisit 6&7 to have those defects lifted. Yet, if it all points back to Step 1, then how do I "re-work" the Step, without going back out there and hitting a far lower bottom?? How do I retain that powerlessness in my memory so it can begin to edge out that arrogance? I so quickly forget where I've come from and can begin to believe that I just drank a tad too much on occassion. For real, I'm that delusional.

BTW, outwardly I "do" all the "right" things - go to meetings, pray daily, talk to my sponsor daily, sponsor people, take commitments, go out speaking, yada yada yada, I'm just the perfect freakin' AA :wink: :lol:

Buck V
Posts: 45
Joined: Mon May 01, 2006 5:15 pm
Location: Oak Island, NC

Postby Buck V » Fri Jul 21, 2006 3:46 pm


I'm a newcomer to AA...just coming up on eight months. I know that you have a whole lot more sobriety than I, and you'll probably hear from a whole bunch of others that have probably over 100 years of combined sobriety. But it sounds like you're at where I was a couple of months ago. My disease was telling me nothing had really changed, so what the hell. You've been a good boy, you were never that bad a drinker, you never got arrested, never lost a job, you can handle it. You're way smarter than all these other drunks. My sponsor told me to sit down and write out my gratitude list. My disease told me so what how much money you've saved, you've got a good job, look at how much your spending on gas to get to and from meetings, plus there's that buck in the bucket anyway. Your family has had to change their lives because of you. Your meetings fall right around suppertime. You're always helping out some drunk who lost his license and needs you to help him move. They're taking advantage of you. Nothing's changed.

Nothing changes if nothing changes.

So I sat down with my family after about 5 months of sobriety and asked them "Have you seen any changes since last November?" They just sat there with their mouths open. My 14 year old son broke the silence by saying "You can't be serious".

This alcoholic needs reassurances from time to time. No matter how hard I try to get out of myself, I will always have an ego, I will always want to be loved, I will always care what others think of me. I will always need a pat on the back every so often.

For me, following this incredible program of recovery, the steps, the meetings, the sharing, the service, are kinda like maintaining my car, getting it serviced, washing and waxing, changing the oil. But every once in awhile I like to get in it and just drive and reap the benefits of my sobriety.

Sorry. I'm starting to ramble. I know this didn't answer your question, but just putting my thoughts down in words helped me alot. So thanks for sharing and thanks for letting me share.


Posts: 5
Joined: Thu May 11, 2006 12:41 pm
Location: Savannah, GA, USA

Postby MarkW » Fri Jul 21, 2006 8:17 pm

Hi Annie,

Just MPO based on a "bit" of experience :lol: but there are two parts to the first step. Absolutely, definitely, without any doubt - what I have to do perfectly is not pick up the next drink!

However - "Our lives had become unmanageable" is a whole 'nother ball game... at least from what I' ve experienced. It takes time (a four letter word) for our lives to become more manageable. Specifically, since some knucklehead :shock: out there in Suffolk County taught me that my life being unmanageable meant my thinking was out of control!

Isn't it true that arrogance is part of our thinking? Isn't it true that delusional is part of our thinking? "Outwardly I do all the right things." What about inwardly? Do you do the right things inside your brain? I don't anywhere near as often as I'd like to - so I need help from others. My thinker is broke, big time!

How I'd suggest you rework the step is to talk with your sponsor about all that you're thinking. Hold nothing back. Once you're finished explaining your thoughts, sit back and listen. I doubt you'll find yourself unique.

Then come back here, re-read your post and see if it isn't your thinking that might just still be unmanageable...



Posts: 409
Joined: Mon Apr 17, 2006 3:42 pm
Location: Long Island, NY

Postby anniemac » Fri Jul 28, 2006 6:47 pm

Thanks for your posts, guys.

Mark, I know it's my thinking that's unmanagable! The question is, how do I settle it down??

For now my answer is to step up my meditation practice and see how that goes....I'm feeling less insane than I was when I first posted this ~ however, the highs and lows seem to come and go.

BTW Mark, did you used to live up here in Suffolk County?

And Buck, I can relate to that need for acknowledgement ~ sometimes that gets quite out of hand for me, but God usually steps in and provides a humbling experience for me to learn from! :oops:

Posts: 5
Joined: Thu May 11, 2006 12:41 pm
Location: Savannah, GA, USA

Postby MarkW » Tue Aug 01, 2006 1:01 pm

anniemac wrote:
Mark, I know it's my thinking that's unmanagable! The question is, how do I settle it down??

:D I could have written my response a little more intelligently eh? Looking back...

Anyhooo - some oldtimer taught me to turn my thinking over to my HP. Third Step my thinking :P He told me God could handle the thinking I couldn't, which, for a looooong time was just about all my thinking lol

Yep! From Suffolk County! Matter of fact, my heart is still with the Blue Point Traditions Group who is the group that welcomed this very ugly drunk into their loving arms in 1990.

Also spent a LOT of time on the North Shore and was a member of the Mount Sinai Group until the major retailer I was working for transferred me. I've lived almost all over the country now... God has a very strange sense of humor 8)

Posts: 409
Joined: Mon Apr 17, 2006 3:42 pm
Location: Long Island, NY

Postby anniemac » Tue Aug 01, 2006 1:32 pm

Ah, Mark, from way out in Suffolk County - LOL! Anything east of Huntington qualifies for "way out" to me ~ I'm on the north shore of Nassau County, near Oyster Bay. I haven't been to any meetings out by Blue Point or Mt. Sinai; but I do know a guy from another forum who swears by the Patchogue-Holbrook group.

One of these days I'll do a mini-road-trip out that way....

Scott: Alcoholic
Posts: 31
Joined: Mon Aug 07, 2006 5:50 am
Location: District 47, Area 59 - Southeastern Pennsylvania

Re: Step 1 - Powerless, but with a bad memory

Postby Scott: Alcoholic » Mon Aug 07, 2006 6:49 am

Sorry - scratch this... LOL!!

garden variety
Posts: 750
Joined: Fri Aug 04, 2006 7:39 pm
Location: Ohio

Postby garden variety » Tue Aug 08, 2006 2:20 am

Sounds like a 6-7 thing to me. You say you recognize it as arrogance. To me, that's a character defect I have too. I don't want to sound too simple, but I just have to remember that step six says I am "entirely ready" to have my God remove "all of these defects". If I'm not entirely ready to have God remove arrogance, then thats going to block the sunlight of the Spirit and get in the way of my maximum service to God and my fellow man. Then I haven't really and truly committed myself to the change that I know I want that step six brings. So then the 12 and 12 tells me to at least be willing to have the defect removed sometime but "not yet" instead of never.

Anyway, this character defect-shortcoming thing is only good for 24 hours. I only need to have my arrogance removed during the time I am awake. That's the only time I have those troubles. I can't be arrogant while I'm sleeping, I can't be arrogant yesterday, and I can't be arrogant tomorrow. I can only be arrogant today, so thats when I ask my God to remove this shortrcoming for...for today...while my eyes are open.

You know some of those character defects I have are gone, some keep coming back. But I don't care anymore, I'm glad if God can remove them all for today. He does it whenever I "humbly ask", and its never failed. I guess theres sometimes when I have to ask to have some of those defects, like fear or doubt, removed every hour because I forget that the Power is from God. But it doesn't matter, as long as I ask, the defects are removed.

Site Admin
Posts: 4786
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2005 9:05 pm
Location: Fort Smith, Arkansas USA

Postby Dallas » Tue Aug 08, 2006 4:11 am

Awesome sharing GV!!!

Thank you!


Dale R.
Posts: 14
Joined: Sat Aug 12, 2006 3:48 pm
Location: Area 59, District 49, Northeastern Pennsylvania

Postby Dale R. » Sun Aug 13, 2006 11:01 pm

You might need to do a deeper step 4. You need to ask the why do I think this way type of question. All of the answers are there. you just have to come to the conclusion yourself. Why are you arrogant? When did it all start? You were not born that way, you learned it from somewhere. It could be another coping skill that you developed to ease the pain of something else. I did several 4th steps, and tried to figure out how and why I think the way I do. For me, it was childhood incidents and the way I was raised that caused me to develop defects in character. Until I understood why, I could never really work on my thinking. Deep down inside, these feelengs that you feel are so engrained that only God can remove them. But, when you become aware, you know what to pray for. I know alot of people who do a 4th step, but never really understand why. They know what, who, ect.

Also, you will discover patterns in your life that are caused by the same thing. Once you understand the "whys" then you will have that burden removed with your 5th step. Once you truly understand, then 6 and 7 are much easier.

Codependency also plays a big role in the way your life was shaped. It is definately a good topic to research when you get to step 4,5,6. I really understood after I read,"Codependant no more", by Melodie Beatty. It is a must have as far as I'm concerned.

As far as the way you think, do something about it. Action steps require action. Only you will know when you truly resolved the deep rooted issue that is in your life.

Just my opinion......

Return to “12 Steps”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 1 guest