Step 1: I Admitted I Was Powerless

Step 1: Sometimes It is Time

What an order! I can’t go through with it!

The end had come: I had come to a place where I could not keep going the way I had. Losing sight of who I was, what I believed in and who I wanted to be; I had reached the ‘jumping-off place”. Step 1 happened and I didn’t even know it.

Some folks hit a ‘low bottom’, being destitute or in prison. For myself, I had a series of run-ins with the law that never really convinced me that I needed to change. My junkyard of wrecked cars were a monument to my stubbornness and inability to understand that folks just don’t behave this way in society.

These days, the repercussions would have been far more severe. Back in the 80’s and early 90’s, the world was still a bit more permissive, turning a blind eye to those who were screaming for help in a very public way. Maybe it is better these days; but I tend to believe that those who have a real problem will find a way to indulge in it, regardless of the consequences.

Over the years, I had tried to get better on my own. At various times I had even stopped drinking for days or even weeks. Once, after wrapping a car around a tree and spending a night in a Dallas-area jail, I even managed to stop for a few months.

The logical minded among us would have seen that improvement in both health, studies (I was in college at the time) and relationships and kept it up. Of course, by that time logic had abandoned me when it came to drinking. When i started again, it would be another 6 years before I would find my own point from where I had run out of options.


I was powerless. I truly did want to get off the roller coaster, but I didn’t think i could. Losing girlfriends, cars, money and my parent’s moral/financial support didn’t give me enough motivation to stop.

I showed up for work, stinking of booze more than a few times, and still managed to avoid any real consequences. My brain told me I was smart enough – or so I believed – to manage it all. I had them all wrapped around my finger! My perception of my circumstances proved to me that this was true! I truly believed that the damages were only an ‘acceptable loss’ and ‘just part of growing up’. That I had not noticed that it was all falling apart was only a symptom of how far I had fallen.

I was juggling everything in my life with a precarious grip. It was all about to fail.

Step 1 is About Life Being Unmanageable

I woke up on the morning of September 9, 1994 with a new understanding. Even though the night before had been completely unremarkable in what had become the shit-show that was my life, I knew I could not go on. It wasn’t the last drink, or even the last 50 that had given me this new outlook. It would be like asking which snowflake caused the avalanche. I lay there in bed, knowing that something had to change.

It would be almost a year before I went to my first – real – AA meeting, but I had what they call a “psychic change”. I can only understand it now as it being a combination of my body – physically tired of the marathon my life had become, my mind – exhausted from keeping track of the lies, debts, and troubles I had gotten into, and my soul – breaking under the strain of being someone I despised.

I was at Step 1: I had to change.

Somehow I intuitively knew that i could not do it in my own surroundings. I had run tried that before to no avail. This time, I wanted it. I needed to change.

I got in my car and drove as far and as fast as I could. From Dallas, I ended up at my brother’s house on the Puget Sound in Washington State. It was a pretty funny scene to see him standing in his yard as I drove up. He was not expecting to see his little brother who was 1500 miles away!

After a week in Washington, it was time to return to Dallas to rebuild and reinvent myself. I could not hide any longer.

It was time. Time to start living. Time to start moving forward instead of feverishly running in place. My life awaited me. At 27, I was just being born. I had a lot of growing up to do! 24 years later, I am still learning and growing!

I had admitted I was powerless and that my life had become unmanageable. Now, I needed to learn how to change! While I don’t wish to relive any of it, I am glad I went through what I did to get me to the point where I took the actions I needed to change.

If you are there, finding where your bottom is – or if you already have – trust me, life gets better. You will improve, guaranteed. No one is beyond redemption nor gone too far for help. If you are breathing, there is hope. All it takes it making the first step. The rest… is relatively easy!


3 Responses

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