The Importance of the First Step – Rob S_Jan 2019

I started drinking like a lot of us. In High School, kegs up the canyon, kegs at parties, cheap terrible wine skiing and even worse wine trying to impress my dates with how sophisticated I was. My wine even had a cork. College was more drinking but nothing I ever worried about. I was, what is defined now, a binge drinker. Whatever that is. Most everyone was drinking the same way. I viewed school like a job where I needed to put in my 40-60 hours a week to be a success and graduate. With a degree in hand I’m off to conquer the world and make a name for myself. Hello corporate America. Coat and tie every day traveling a little at first but then it became almost more gone than home. Expense account, 1-2 drinks lunch, sometimes drinks after work and all this was normal. I even had a bar in my office. The CEO and VP’s were doing it so it must be something I needed to do to climb the corporate ladder. Then the phone company was deregulated and the Dot.com era took off like gang busters. It was a giant, Wall Street approved, party. Every function, every dinner, every get together was alcohol and drug fueled. I, being the never do anything illegal person, never did drugs. I just drank. When I came home from my first trip I told my wife I didn’t think I could keep up with some of these guys/gals. A normie would have come home and said “people at these functions sure drink a lot, I’m glad I don’t have to keep up with them.” Needless to say, I managed to keep up with all of them. Slowly but surely every activity I did involved alcohol. Shooting, golf, camping, boating, hunting, vacations absolute everything. I still thought that I drank normally because everyone I ran with drank the same way. I still hadn’t missed any work or functions because of my drinking, yet. However I was constantly in trouble with my wife. She couldn’t understand why I couldn’t go to a party, dinner or any function and not get drunk. What she didn’t realize and I didn’t think about was that I was drunk before I got there. And again I thought this was fairly normal. I thought she was just being hard to deal with. Work continued and I was enjoying continued success. At age 48, on a trip to Hawaii, I decided I had worked enough and it was time to retire. I had some great plans but you don’t accomplish anything on a bar stool. My schedule started at 8am coffee and Baileys, followed with a grapefruit and vodka then to the bar that opened at 10am. Still didn’t have a problem in my mind. Isn’t that what every retiree did? I was so smart I knew that if I got home before my wife at 5:30 I would sober up enough she wouldn’t know I was drinking all day. I was one smart alcoholic. Slowly but surely I was finally starting to realize I might have problem. I was sure I could just cut back and I’d be fine. I soon realized I couldn’t cut back. No matter how hard I tried to skip a couple of days of drinking I couldn’t. WTF I had been able to do anything I had put my mind too my entire life. So now what? I knew I wasn’t an alcoholic just a dynamic drinker. Classic case of denial. My son had been in AA for 5 years and had stayed clean for heroin addiction. I talked to him about my drinking. He said “Dad I know exactly what you going through and I know how much you’re drinking. Why don’t you go to an AA meeting with me?” Before I went I read the 12 Steps and some of the history of AA. Interesting thought, I could get sober just by talking to another alcoholic. Every journey begins with the 1st step. It doesn’t matter what you do if you don’t take that 1st step and get it right you can’t go further. The first step in Alcoholics Anonymous involves more than just admitting that I have a problem. It means breaking through the denial that had kept me locked in my misery. I had to admit that I have been beaten by alcohol. That my life has become unmanageable. I was ready to take the 1st step. Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable. I learned Alcoholics Anonymous is a series of 12 steps that build on each other. My sponsor said you don’t work Step 1 then to Step 5 then 3 then 12 etc. Each one builds on the last one. That is why it is so important to have a sponsor. A guide, mentor, friend and the person who calls you on your BS. The Big Book says this is program of progress not perfection. That is absolutely true. We need to make progress every day. That being said, and this is Rob’s opinion since no one speaks for AA. I, you have to get the 1st step 100% right every second of every day. There is no doubt in my mind that I’m an Alcoholic. If you have spent any time in AA you have seen people go back out because they have decided they were not an alcoholic. Thank god they find their way back. And by the grace of god and AA I haven’t gone back out to see if I wasn’t an alcoholic. Once we have gone from a cucumber to a pickle it is impossible to change back to a cucumber. I am an Alcoholic through and through. No matter how much time I have in AA or what my emotions dictate I will always be an alcoholic. I cannot ever have a drink and think I can control it. I am powerless over alcohol. When I drink my life becomes unmanageable. I choose to follow the guidelines and suggestions outlined in AA. Life is 1000% better. I want to leave you with one thing I have learned and I believe in my heart of hearts. There is nothing life can throw at you that you can’t deal with sober. If you think there is then talk to another member of the fellowship. You’ll find that someone else has gone through what you are going through and did it sober. Be sober, safe and happy.

Thank you for letting me share -Rob S.

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