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Step One

Posted Jan 25 2011 12:00am

Step One: We admitted we were powerless over alcoholthat our lives had become unmanageable.

The popular music group, “The Fray” has a song which became popular in 2006 for reasons best expressed through the fans who were struck by its meaning-for them.
The song How to Save a Life was influenced by lead singer, pianist, and song writer Isaac Slade’s experience working as a mentor at a camp for troubled teens. “One of the kids I was paired up with was a musician. Here I was, a protected suburbanite, and he was just 17 and had all these problems. And no one could write a manual on how to save him.

When I first heard the song, I too was touched by is honest reveal that we don’t always have the answers. It was the singer/song writer’s words “Step One you say we need to talk” that would not and will not leave my mind. I learned early in my recovery the first step is a place you only come to after trying everything else. If it was easy to admit we were powerless, then we would all be healthy, healed, whole. It is hard. I have learned it does not come out in the language of step one. It comes with emotion, anger, pain or despair, and always with no other choice available. I remember when my son came to admit his abuse of illicit drugs. He said, “Mom I need to talk about something.” My dad called upon release from jail, crying and begging me to come over “and talk.” Me, I showed up at my doctor’s appointment and said, “There is something I need to tell you.”
I think we feel there has to be gnashing of teeth, an arrest, or a complete breakdown. While that does happen, it also occurs many times without incident. The very admission of powerlessness over anything is the incident. I was so depressed when I came to the realization that my life was unmanageable, I could only sit and stare at the doctor and my family with a hollowness I figured would never be filled.

Step One still means the same as it did years ago in my first realization of its necessary application for me. I am powerless over the ravages of mania and depression. I get filled with hope when I return to the first step. Having used them in 12-step therapy, I know they work. Sometimes I think I have this philosophical reason as to why they work. I don’t. Someone asked me one time what about the steps worked for me. I replied, “I had nothing else, so I surrendered.”

I decided to trust in the first step. “I need to talk.”

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