January is a month of new beginnings! It's that time of the year where we make resolutions and try something new. The name January actually comes from Janus, the Roman god of transition or beginnings. Janus is represented by two faces looking in opposite directions; the past and the future. Janus was also thought of as a gate, a doorway, or of passing time. In the spirit of Janus I begin the new year with working Step One of AA which has been about a new beginning for me!
Step One can be the beginning of a new way of life. This step is an honest statement about what our lives have become. "We admitted we were powerless over alcohol-that our lives had become unmanageable". When I came to AA I was told that this was the only step I had to get right and that the rest of the steps were suggestions for a new way of living. During those first few months my mind was in such a mess. I knew that my life was unmanageable. In my confused state, many told me to focus on the word "WE". "We" is the first word in Step One and I believe it is for a reason. It means we are not alone. I had felt alone for so long that I hung on to the word "WE" for dear life, leaning on others and listening to their stories. I learned to identify with people and to quit comparing. When I saw myself in others I began to see that we were connected, that we needed each other. We were never meant to see ourselves as alone. Was this really what Step One stood for or was there more?
As part of working Step One, it was suggested that I look up the words powerless and unmanageable to make sure I knew what these words meant. It gradually dawned on me that these words were about giving up. I knew from listening to talk in the rooms that I was supposed to surrender, but who wants to admit defeat? What was I surrendering to? I knew it was supposed to be God, but even though I grew up in the church, I really didn't know God yet. I began to keep a journal and to write about how these words were manifested in my life. Slowly I came to the conclusion that I gave my power away out of fear. I tried too hard to be strong when letting go was all I needed to. "When I am weak God is strong", but I wasn't there yet. I was not able to see that I didn't need to pull myself up by my own bootstraps. I was trying to do God's job. I went through the rest of the steps as suggested to the best of my ability, but it wasn't till I started with a new sponsor after several years in the program that Step One took on a whole new dimension for me.
My new sponsor said to me one day that "I Can't" was a short version of Step One. When she said "I can't" a light bulb exploded in my brain! I immediately grasped what Step One was trying to reveal to me! It was that I can't fix the chaos around me and that I am powerless to fix almost everything. Realizing that "I can't" was probably the biggest epiphany of my spiritual journey in AA. It helped me to start letting go. I now could see the futility of what I have been trying to do all my life. To be honest I still sometimes try to slip back into my old habit of crazy thinking, trying to take over and fix things, but then my dis-ease reminds me it’s my Higher Power's job to take care of the universe and not mine! It is the small deaths daily to my ego that reveal my true self to me - the self that can be of service to others and not get stuck inside my head.
Step One continues to help me surrender and let go. The amount of time to let go depends on how much pain I want to deal with. Pain is a gift now instead of something I want to be free from. It is a warning sign. It usually means there is something wrong with my attitude or how I am looking at the world. I accept that pain and suffering are part of the human experience. Trying to escape pain is what led me to drink in the first place so accepting it has set me free. Today I have a new pair of glasses called AA. AA has helped me experience the world the way I feel God meant it to be for us. So today let January, a time of new beginnings, remind you that Step One is all about bringing you to a place of transition and transformation. May you experience it and you too finally let go.