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My Experience with Step One

Step one is the only step that I have to work perfectly, every single day.

This step was complex for me in the beginning; I could admit that I was powerless over alcohol and other substances, I had called myself an alcoholic since middle school, but the second part challenged me. At the time, I had a hard time saying that my life “had become unmanageable.” I had a good job, a 3.5 GPA at an accredited university, had a house, a car, money in the bank, and what I thought were friends. The truth was, this is only one piece of life: the stuff. A lot of people lose that stuff first, but everyone’s bottom is different. My bottom consisted of emotional bankruptcy, not literal bankruptcy. The stigma of alcoholism and addiction so frequently is that person who hasn’t showered in days, drinking out of a bottle wrapped in a paper bag, living under a bridge. In my mind, as long as I wasn’t “that bad” I couldn’t have a problem, right?

My sponsor had me write down my bottom in graphic detail. She instructed me to write how I felt, how I had negatively changed, how far I was from the person that I wanted to be, what consequences I had suffered, and where I saw myself going if I continued down this road. That put things in major perspective for me. I knew that I had no control over alcohol and substances that I put in my body, once I ingested them I wouldn’t know how or be able to stop. After doing what my sponsor instructed, I began to see the pattern of a downward spiral.

I remained high functioning (so far), but how long would that last?

I dangled on the edge of sanity during active addiction. I acted impulsively and put myself in danger time and time again that easily could have resulted in personal injury or injury to others. I couldn’t stand to be alone or “bored.” I worked two jobs, went to school full time, and went out every single night. If I was alone in a room or not doing anything I would be crawling out of my skin. I used to justify that saying that I was just type A and needed to be busy, but the truth was I didn’t like who I was. I hated the person that I had become so much that I couldn’t stand to be alone with her.

After I could realize the ways that my life had become unmanageable, my sponsor had me take a look at other things I was powerless over, which was instrumental in me being able to practice acceptance. My sponsor had me work step one in the capacity of admitting that I was also powerless over people, places, events, etc. Working the step in this way allowed me to really delve into a program of recovery and attend meetings peacefully.

If there were ever any people in a meeting that I didn’t find myself relating to or liking, I would practice acceptance. If I got stuck in traffic and subsequently was going to arrive late to an appointment, I would practice acceptance of that situation. Practicing step one in daily situations allowed me to live a more serene life almost instantaneously. In turn, that began building my self-esteem up, which allowed me to be more comfortable in my own skin. The Big Book talks about “surrendering to win” which is exactly what I experienced working and living step one. As soon as I let go and admitted powerlessness, the process of me being let go from the grips of my addiction began.

  • Ashley is the Director of Alumni Services for Lakeview Health. She holds an undergraduate degree from the University of North Florida in Psychology with a double minor in English and Spanish. She is currently pursuing her Master of Science degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at the University of North Florida. She has over two years of experience in addiction and mental health treatment. Ashley is also a person in long-term recovery; her sobriety date is January 13, 2012. She joined Lakeview Health in 2014 as the Aftercare Coordinator. Ashley has experience in working at both adult and adolescent inpatient treatment facilities. She enjoys inspiring other young people to live sober, fulfilling, happy lives.

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