Dec 28 2012

Using Step One

Published by at 12:05 pm under Using the Steps

“We admitted we were powerless over alcohol–that our lives had become unmanageable.”

Welcome to Using Al-Anon’s Twelve Steps in Our Personal Lives. This is a series of podcasts to discuss how Al-Anon members use the basic principles of Al-Anon.

Today we’re going to ask Al-Anon members how they used Step One to help them overcome the impacts of a loved one’s drinking.

How to locate an Al-Anon meeting


The following tags are aids to navigation for other podcasts in this series.


78 comments on “Using Step One”

  1. Darlene says:

    I have the blessing of knowing a 12-Step program because I have 7 years clean and sober. However, my husband is an alcoholic and my 30-year-old daughter is addicted to drugs. We are raising her 2 kids and today my husband lost his mother.

    I’m already prepared for him to deal with this loss the only way he knows how–to numb. I forgive him in advance for the harsh words and embarrassing actions of his disease and I am working on forgivness towards my daughter, who is repeating my bad mistakes and decisions, right down to losing custody of her children.

    Addiction is cunning and baffling, but a higher power can bring resolution and peace way beyond my knowledge. I remember not to look at the whole “staircase,” which can become overwhelming, but to just focus on the First Step. May the God of our understanding be with us and our loved ones. Peace is the reward!!

  2. Amy says:

    My fiancee of 4 years is an alcoholic. He refuses to admit that he has a problem and he drinks beer from the time he wakes to the time he passes out. I have caught him lying to me, blaming me for small issues and turning them into giant issues. He has physically abused me, constantly abusing emotionally. Accuses me of having affairs at work, with his son, his brother, his father, and his friends. I have lost every friend and family member, due to his drinking and controlling nature. He has been in jail on 3 occasions since being with me, all stemming from his drinking.

    I try to take one day at a time, but it’s so hard. I need to know how to make him realize that he has a problem. His “groceries” are more important to him than paying the household bills or filling the pantry.

  3. Tina says:

    I would love to attend an Al-Anon meeting, but like so many I live in a rural area and really don’t know where to turn. I was married to an alcoholic for over 20 years. In the later years he started using drugs. I got where I just couldn’t stand it anymore and left the relationship. He is now deceased of a drug overdose.

    I went from bad to worse and remarried–to a man who liked drinking and being controlling, and 6 years into that relationship I divorced again.

    I finally found a man who doesn’t drink and treats me great, but in the process of everything I have a son who uses drugs. He has been in and out of prison for over 10 years. This last time when he got out I fixed a small building on my property for him to live in. We charged him no rent and I paid his electric bill for him because he had no income.

    I didn’t realize until recently how I was enabling him. My younger son and I have forbidden him to be in our lives now until he gets help, long term help!

    It’s the dead of winter. I don’t know where he is now. My heart feels like it’s breaking. I never thought I would feel so cold-hearted toward my own son. The last time he showed up here, he just pushed his way into the home. He had felt because he went and got some mental treatment for three days I would let him back into our lives, but he has so much anger in him I feel fearful he’ll try and hurt one of us.

    I keep asking if I’ve done the right thing, and I’m not sure. If I allow him to come back, my husband now says he will leave, he has had enough of the drugs around him.

    Just wish I had the right answers, I’m feeling so lost.

  4. Samii says:

    In January 2014, after being with my active alcoholic for 15 plus years, my alcoholic was arrested for their first DUI. I finally had the courage to leave the relationship.

    When my alcoholic refused treatment, I was done. I am a strong believer that it’s okay to love an alcoholic. They are good people with a bad disease. But what I learned is that I need to love myself as much as I love them. I know there is help. The more I learn about alcoholism, the better. It affects all of the family in different ways. This program saved my life!

  5. Penny says:

    I have just started the 12 Step program through Al-Anon.

    My husband has been drinking for a year and the drinking increased over the past 6 months. He put himself into rehab, where he has been for 30 days. He has 90 more days in long-term rehab. I have been going to family therapy once a week and attended a family matrix program.

    I am working on the First Step and when I realized I could not control the drinking or addiction it was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. It took me several weeks just to realize that I needed to fix me.

    I am looking for a face-to-face meeting to attend and found this site.

    Thank you for sharing your stories. I can relate to so many of them. I find strength in my HP and realize I need to turn it over to my HP.

  6. Usha says:

    I have been in this recovery programme since the last 5 years. I read Al-Anon literature regularly. Step One is a daily routine of my recovery.

    I accept that my life is completely unmanageable, whenever I try to control people. My higher power reminds me of this Step almost daily, as many times I remain under some unknown fear. I feel very remorseful. At this moment also I am feeling powerless over my boss’s behaviour. But programme is helping me to remain calm, as my serenity is my first priority, with the “First Things First” slogan. God’s will–

  7. Hanh says:

    I have been to Al-Anon meetings before. Working Step One is going to save my life.

  8. Anna says:

    I am back to Step One. Step One keeps me grounded in the moment.
    Right now–What do I need to do to take care of myself? Me. Here in the moment, now. Me, powerless over a disease or an alcoholic.

    “My” qualifier–32 y/o son. No program/doesn’t “believe in AA/NA” = rehab/jail/homeless/job to job.

    I’ve detached, separated, but I saw him tonight. Obviously intoxicated–drugs? Alcohol?

    It doesn’t matter. It’s not my job to name your poison. My job is Step One. I’m powerless.

    I will keep the focus on me. Breathe. Live and let live.

    I’m powerless! Even so, I found fellowship tonight. I found the desire to step back and detach with love.

    I am so grateful. Thank you.

  9. Renewedman says:

    My life is unmanageable, once I take my will back. For a time things go my way. Then when they don’t I cry, “Why?” Yet now I know how clever and insidious the mind and thought process is of an alcoholic. The attitudes I have were formed, so say the psychologists, in the 1st few years of our existence as toddlers.

    Yet, the more Al-Anon meetings I attend and Step work, my attitudes are changing! The way I auto-matically respond to something said is now seen as “not the best.”

    What is the method in order? I forget it: Is it: 1. To take it in (what is said to me) 2. Think 3. Then respond, not react?

    Versus–just react. Which later on I am almost assuredly going to wish I thought before reacting. I guess reacting is like emotions. They don’t have a right or wrong, just a ‘knee jerk’ response. Jerk is used correctly and personally.


  10. helena says:

    Hi. I have been attending online meetings for a few months now and it is going slowly.

    To realize that I am codependent and behaving badly was news. I always thought I am ok and the A is the problem. Well, so I created a monster–anger, fear, resentment, self-pity and more. But what a relief to know that I have the possibility to change me and my behavior and make my life better. And to understand that being powerless over the A and other things in life is actually a relief.

    I remember sharing about powerlessness and I wrote about how weak I am, and someone in that meeting said that actually it can be a relief to be powerless. Well, that was an awakening and how I now can stop the fighting against so many things in life and use that energy and time to grow and to learn to be a better person. Wow, there is a long way to go.

    So happy to have found Al-Anon.

  11. renewedman says:

    I accidently came across this site and have been strengthened by the hope and honesty and yes the down-trodden who show me by their stories that this is a deadly game that is no game. But there is one who can create the desire to get sober. May you find God now. Keep reaching out and telling on your disease.

  12. Gammy says:

    I’ve been around program for over 30 years. I recently lost my alcoholic husband who had 25 years of sobriety, but had serious health problems and was addicted to drugs, prescription and outside. He died 4 months ago and I have been finding out how bad the addition to drugs were by friends. It hurts and I’m into anger about this. I feel let down by him, and hurt that I took care of him, and disappointed in him. We were married for 35 years, and he died on our anniversary. Feeling confused and lost right now.

    Thank God for my daughter and grandchild, and this web site.

  13. Rochelle says:

    It’s pretty difficult to find an Al-Anon meeting where I live. It’s a very rural area.

    I’m 67, and I realize that I have lived my whole life being an enabler and codependent. Being the oldest child, with a very abusive mother, left me very hypervigilant and very responsible. I learned that through my own will I could “fix” things. I felt very competent do to whatever was necessary to keep things under control.

    I had 2 alcoholic husbands, many relationships, many family members and many friends who were addicts or alcoholics. It’s like I was (am) a magnet for broken people.

    So, my living situation has me supporting my sister, who is an addict/alcoholic. Time and time and time and time again, she relapses, sometimes only for a short time (pain pills are her nemesis), but nevertheless we have the conversation that is always the same–her saying, “I have a confession” and “I’m so sorry; I’ll never do it again”.

    I’m pretty much sick of this! I have no control over her. I have no control. I want to give up trying to fix and control.

  14. Eva says:

    I am married to an AA; he has been sober for 22 years (sober a year when I met him, dated for 2 years). Recently his drug of choice was Xanax. Along with this came sex-texting, internet, gambling and thousands of dollars gone (where? he doesn’t know). He went to rehab recently and is now staying at his mother’s house. I’ve been to two Al-Anon meetings. I’ve been listening to Al-Anon and AA speakers on YouTube.

    I didn’t get married and think that someday I would get the titles of enabler, codependent, his sobriety, his stabilizer and yes he called me his “mother”. I am hoping that Al-Anon will help me get serenity and clarity. The ladies at Al-Anon were very kind, they said, “You are in the right place”.

    I was a happy person before all of this. I hate the person I’ve become because of this. I’m angry, bitter, sad, confused and heartbroken. I am praying that I find, get and learn all of the Al-Anon Steps.


  15. Milie says:

    Wow–I think I am pretty foxy intelligent, but I have been doing some reading, beginning to listen to the voice within me that I am a codependent of an alcoholic mate. Last night when he was being verbally abusive I started questioning: why did I cause this, i.e. cause the anger? I began to question my own emotional sanity.

    When I awoke this a.m. the control he exerts/has exerted over me became clear again, but only lasts until we talk and I get delusional about how things will heal and get better. I feel relief that everything is okay when it is not and can’t be until he admits and seeks reality on his drinking.

    I have to be responsible for being an enabler/codependent in our married relationship. However he makes that happen, I will love and support him but not to the sell out of me. I am stronger than that.

    He is an intelligent man. He has shared his pain with me from time to time. I have not listened to or trusted my inner voice. I ignored that the lack of affection and intimacy were not important, just the product of a long marriage. I was a very faithful codependent in this, while I sought it in the non-sexual attractions of other men.

    We need to be honest. I need for my husband to be honest if we are to have the future together we both deserve. All of the comments shared above bring me solace and hope. Thank you.

  16. Ellen says:

    I’ve been going to Al-Anon meetings for years and have had numerous sponsors, yet I couldn’t stick with the relationship and the Step work. I kept hearing others talk about how their lives had been turned around because of the program and working the Steps, yet I continued to get stuck.

    After a meeting where a fellow member took my arm and firmly walked me over to a corner of the room, and told me I didn’t respect the meeting because I’d shared considerably over the timer’s beep, said I wasn’t working the program because I have to dump my “stuff” during a share because I don’t have a sponsor, etc., I began to cry. Thank God I do have enough program to have been able to take care enough of myself to ask her to stop. She’d already more than made her point, and she was going way beyond giving me a suggestion as to how I should work my program, etc. But I’d also learned that even if I didn’t like the tone of the message I should listen to the content, and she was right.

    Though I’ve accepted that I am powerless over my children who have been addicts/alcoholics, as well as those who are not, and am powerless, in fact, over everyone in my life, my life was still unmanageable. I couldn’t prioritize, procrastinated like mad, became paralyzed and felt totally powerless to move past my negative behavior. But I have an “appointment” to speak with my sponsor (someone I’d worked with before and to whom I had to commit myself to being serious and doing the work this time around), and I happened onto this site.

    Though I was frustrated that once again I’m being taken back to Step One, I also realize that my Higher Power is showing me that I need to look at where my life is unmanageable, what I can change, and what I’m powerless over. Thanks for being here. I’m blessed to have found Al-Anon.

  17. Karen says:

    I’m in complete despair. Been in a relationship for a year with a man I completely love and adore. 4 months into the relationship he told me he was an addict and alcoholic but has been 12 years off this. I still love him and want to be there for him and part of his life. But he was difficult to be around and emotionally abusive at times. He attends meetings every week and has his sponsor.

    I was starting to become unhappy with the way he was with me and felt him pulling away from me and us. He has ended our relationship and I’m so upset. There is no communication with us and hasn’t been for 4 weeks. He asked me to attend Al-Anon to understand people like him. I want to go, but he is no longer in my life–although I want him to be. I respect his decision for us to part. So upset and confused.

  18. Karen says:

    I have never been to an Al-Anon meeting. My work schedule makes it difficult to attend a meeting in person, although I plan to try. My 24-year-old son cycles between homelessness and losing jobs and drinking to cope. I have tried to fix his problems for years. I have decided that I need help. I need to figure out where to start and Step One looked like the place.

  19. Tami says:

    I am so glad that I searched for Al-Anon today. I attended meetings years ago, but stopped. I am still in an alcoholic relationship. I have all of a sudden realized that I am back to that person who is so out of control. I am trying to control everything and just realized that truly it is controlling me.

    I have to stop feeling and doing the things that I am trying to do because it will never change anything. I need to start Step One over again. This is controlling every aspect of my life. I need peace and serenity. I know the only way to have that is to “Let Go & Let God” and do it “One Day at a Time”.

    I will repeat the Serenity Prayer as many times a day as I need it. I do admit that I have no control over anything except myself. I do admit that I must turn this over to God and let Him help me. I cannot do it on my own. I don’t want to give up on him, but I do know that I cannot make him change. I can and will love him always. I will be there for him, but I must be there for myself first. His change is not my responsibility, I can only change myself. I will be strong with God’s help.

  20. Jean says:

    I’m thankful for finding this site tonight. Although Al-Anon helped me through some tough times years ago, it’s been a while since I’ve been to a meeting. A loved one’s alcoholism has finally reached the point where it can no longer be ignored. I have to acknowledge it while admitting I am powerless over it.

    Thank you for reminding me about the serenity prayer: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change (his drinking), courage to change the things I can (setting boundaries–no one in my family will get in a car if he’s been drinking and is behind the wheel), and the wisdom to know the difference.

    I’m not looking forward to tomorrow’s conversation, but please, God, grant me the courage.

  21. karen.k says:

    I just found this podcast after attending my second Al-Anon meeting. I am wondering why do I need to work the Steps? Step one deals with the powerlessness over alcohol. I have been married for 34 years to a man who has finally admitted this after 45 years of drinking. He is working the Steps, found a sponsor and has his 90 day chip. Meanwhile, I want to find my own peace and serenity and although skeptical, I will keep an open mind.

  22. April says:

    I was a member of Al-Anon a while back, but stopped going because I lived in an area where it was hard to get to meetings because of transportation. I’ve since moved to a large city where meetings are abundant and am considering going back, because I realize that I have forgotten some of my earliest lessons from Al-Anon–like the fact that I cannot control everything. I need to stop and pray the serenity prayer regularly to remind myself.

    God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

  23. Todd says:

    I’m an alcoholic, and as of yesterday discovered I am now a codependent husband with full blown insanity. I have received sobriety through the Steps of AA. I read the Steps here at Al-Anon last night and changed the angle of view. I have been trying to control and combat an addicted wife and stepson with my AA program for close to 7 months. I needed to rethink and reapply this very critical Step and the following two to let go and find the peace and serenity I need. They are on there own as of today for getting theirs. Thank you.

  24. May says:

    I’ve been in Al-Anon for many years. I haven’t been to a meeting for months. This morning, being able to hear the podcast was so important to me. I’ve gotten away from the very basic Step that says I have no control over anyone other than myself. Did I need to hear the words that were spoken here? Yes, yes and yes. Thank-you so much for the message.

  25. jeany says:

    I am new and my husband is an alcoholic. I need to find a way to deal with this. We have been married a long time. But I’m ready for help.

  26. Lara says:

    This is my first time seeking guidance with this group. I am in a very new relationship with a man who struggles with alcoholism. I had my first experience of pain and distress when we met early one morning for breakfast and I smelled alcohol on his breath. When I asked him when he had last taken a drink, he immediately confessed that it had been during our call late in the evening the night before.

    I would have simply been disappointed about it and called off any more association, except that I felt as though I had been the reason for him drinking. The evening before, we were talking on the phone and sharing very intimate ideas and emotions. As it turned out, he decided to drink during the call. This made the drinking part of my emotional life, because I had shared so much and he had shared so much. I had begun to care for him. I did not want to just leave the relationship and him–so what should I do?

    I have decided to seek to understand first. And I will take action as I learn what the action should be.

    So this First Step teaches me that I am powerless over alcohol. And this makes me understand that it was not my fault that he chose to drink during that call. And it teaches that my life had become unmanageable–but I do not understand that part.

    My life is not unmanageable when it comes to alcohol abuse, because this relationship is too new. So does this Step predict my future if I choose to stay with him? And if so, should that fact be the deal killer? Why bring chaos into my life with alcoholism when I already have to deal with chaos from several other issues going on in my life?

    Thank you for the opportunity to share. The journey begins.

  27. Samii says:

    I have been in these rooms for years. Like many, there was no active alcoholism in my family of origin. It appears my grandfather stopped drinking for years or even decades. But, my mom was still affected as I was. He died before I was born, but the “ism’s” of alcoholism were there and I picked them up. Some were obsessive worry over money, loved ones, and other problems.

    I lived with a lot of fear and anxiety. I was a people-pleaser. I had a lot of guilt and low self-esteem. In these rooms, I have found a way to cope with life. I learned I am powerless over others. I am not powerless over my own happiness and serenity. I learned I am not a victim, but a volunteer. I learned to set boundaries and to love myself.

    All I can say to those who read this post is that you are not alone. Try this program, join an on-line meeting. Consider going to face-to-face meetings to learn more. You are worth it and no one has to live in the chaos and pain caused by alcoholism (please notice I did not say the alcoholic). It is a family disease and many of us have been traumatized or affected by the disease—not just the drinker.

    There is help and hope!

  28. Don says:

    This was what I was looking for this morning. The alcoholic closest to me hasn’t had a drink in over three decades. Since we’ve been together for less than five years, it’s pretty clear to me that I didn’t cause her sobriety. That leads me back to the assertion in Al-Anon’s Step One that we’re powerless over alcohol, and I wonder how that’s helpful for me.

    I grew up in a tea-totaler religious community, so there was no drinking in my childhood home. For an active alcoholic, I’d have to go back at least to the grandfather who died years before my birth, after having sworn off the bottle and taken up the bible. Thus alcohol doesn’t appear to be a looming giant in my life.

    Be that as it may, I have plenty of misery: unhappy with my career, fretful about not having time for non-earning activities that bring joy into my life. So powerless over money and the political economy, powerless over others, powerless over my own thwarted dreams, powerless over distractions, yes.

    Am I making the drinking of ancestors long gone into a scape goat for my real challenges? Does being married to a sober alcoholic automatically make me a good candidate for Al-Anon? Is my spending time with Al-Anon tools the best way to seek healing from the things that distress me?

    I don’t have answers right now. Sharing the questions may bring me to more clarity, and I thank everyone who brought me this opportunity.

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