Step 1 - unmanageability when you've been around a while

12 Steps: Discussions related to the 12 Steps and using them as a treatment to recover from alcohol and drug addiction.
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Jan 26, 2010 3:46 am

Step 1 - unmanageability when you've been around a while

Postby cloudberry » Tue Jan 26, 2010 11:28 am

I have just registered and have a question about Step 1. I've been sober for 12 years, though I have only once work on the Steps when I was in rehab 13 and a half years ago. I have achieved a huge amount since stopping drinking and in many respects have gained a life beyond my wildest dreams. I have got married in recovery, now have 3 children, started up my own business 5 and a half years ago, all things I would have thought impossible and never likely to happen to me.

I did stop coming to meetings for about 2 years or so, partly due to babies and fidgety times with them but largely due to bloody mindedness and "I'll do it my way" thinking. I didn't pick up thank God but went pretty bonkers. I came back to meetings about 14 months ago when my head became such a place of insanity that I really felt I was on the edge. I didn't quite know what might happen but it felt absolutely terrifying.

Anyway, here I am back in meetings, doing service, have a sponsor, my second in 14 months. My first moved a long way away and it was not longer viable. Unmanageability is a HUGE problem for me. I am only now beginning to understand what it encompasses, but the physical aspect has been a life-long struggle: always late, always missing deadlines, procrastination, blaming, excuses, going to bed far too late when my children wake me early in the morning, never can find anything, never get my invoices out on time so that there is always a constant scramble and struggle to pay bills. Very bad at responding to phone calls, emails; good at saying I'll do something, hopeless at following through, unreliable etc etc. I used to think it was just the way I was, and almost thought there was a charm in it! For the last few years it is driving me to despair. I hate living like this; it's affecting my relationship with my husband, it has a negative effect on my children, they are always late for school and being collected,. You get the picture ....

I feel i do understand what unmanageability means and what it feels like. But I am struggling to get any kind of handle on dealing with it. I am on Step 1 and my sponsor tells me that I must get on top of the unmanageability before we talk about moving onto Step 2. From what I've read, I have understood that I will only start to get on top of it as I work through the steps, that is part of what the process can offer. Unmanageability is not something that I will overcome quickly or even slowly, and then I go on to Step 2. I am feeling quite confused and frustrated about this. I really can see for the first time how much I need to work my way through the steps and I don't know if I am misinterpreting things or whether my sponsor and I are seeing things differently. She has many years of sobriety but it's a new relationship and I don't find her particularly warm, in fact I'm quite intimidated by her so find the thought of discussing this with her a bit alarming, though I know I do need to do this. Sorry that this is long but I'm interested to have other people's views if possible.

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

Postby Dallas » Tue Jan 26, 2010 10:48 pm

Welcome to the site Cloudberry! And, thank you for your participation! I appreciate your sharing.

You mentioned that you're interested in other peoples views. :wink:

My perspective may be a bit different -- so, I hope you are warm to the idea of me sharing them.

As I see it:

1. The primary purpose of the 12 Steps is to produce a personality change. (psychic change as mentioned by Dr. Silkworth, in the Dr.'s Opinion).... "to prepare me"... to use "these principles" (of the 12 Steps) as a Design for Daily Living.

The way to "produce this psychic change" for me, was to "take the 12 Steps."

To "take the 12 Steps" is not the same as "to learn or practice the 12 Steps."

I refer to page 59 of the Big Book, (our basic text):
"Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a
program of recovery:"

It wasn't until after I "took" the Steps, that I was able to "practice" these principles in all my affairs. I first needed the transformation in thought and attitudes that would come about as a result to "taking the steps" and then, I would be able to "put into practice."

2. One of the major problems that I've observed within the recovery community -- is when a person, new or old, begins the process of "taking the steps"... they begin with Chapter 5, "How it works."

For me, this was like trying to figure out algebra problems -- before I had learned to add and subtract and multiply. And, it wasn't until I started at the front cover of the BB, and followed the instructions up to Chapter 5, that I was prepared for the "doing".

3. My view of the problem that you wrote about is not a "manage-ability" or "un-manage-ability" problem. It's a structure and discipline problem.

Page 88 BB:

"It works—it really does.
We alcoholics are undisciplined. So we let God discipline
us in the simple way we have just outlined.
But this is not all. There is action and more action.
“Faith without works is dead.â€

Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Jan 26, 2010 3:46 am

Postby cloudberry » Wed Jan 27, 2010 4:54 pm

Hi Dallas

Thank you for taking the time to respond. I found your comments extremely helpful and thought-provoking. I think I am in danger of becoming obsessive about the whole issue of unmanageability and over-complicating it all. Your comments about structure and discipline cut to the chase and keep it simple. I must take action now and stop talking about it. I also need to talk with my sponsor and start looking for a new one if she isn't happy for me to get into action with taking the steps as you described. I feel as though I am stagnating where I am mentally, emotionally and spiritually and it's time to get going now. I don't know if it's OK to say to one's sponsor "look I feel as though I need to take the next step, I'm ready." Or whether that would be seen as trying to control and run on my own self-will, rather than wait to be guided by her. It's just that I don't feel that she's really listening to me. Anyhow, that's a separate issue. Thank you again for your reply.

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

Postby Dallas » Thu Jan 28, 2010 2:09 pm

I think ....

That's the source of ALL my problems! :lol: :lol: :lol:

When I spend too much time thinking -- I get restless, irritable, compulsive, obsessive, and discontented.

When I spend too much time taking action... I forget to think! :lol:

And, when I forget to think about me... Life becomes really grand! :wink:

I hope you're doing much better today!

I can't offer any suggestions on what to do about your sponsor... but, I would suggest breaking out your Big Book and start on the front cover... and as you read it, pop online here, and let's discuss what you're reading!

I'll just bet... that you'll suddenly discover that your problems begin to evaporate! :wink:

That's some "good managed actions" that will do you good and make you feel good.

Discipline yourself enough to read a couple of pages. Two will be enough. And, then log on and share with us what you read and what it means to you.

You'll be amazed at the progress that you'll experience!

Best wishes,


Return to “12 Steps”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest