Cumberland Heights Blog: Step 1

1st Step

1st Step of the 12 Steps

We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable – Step 1

“Only drink on weekends. Only four drinks per setting. How about switching from vodka to beer? No, that didn’t work. Let’s try wine. Okay, wine only with dinner during the weeknights, then liquor on the weekends. Not before 5pm. Unless it’s hot outside, then a refreshing 6-pack of beer in the afternoon is allowed. When did the mornings start to demand a little ‘hair of the dog’ to clear the fog and pain of the night before?”

This was my internal dialogue for many years. Thinking I was the one in control, I put rules and regulations on myself regarding my alcohol use. I just knew if I tried hard enough, I’d hit on the perfect formula that would allow me to continue to escape into the bottle, yet not suffer the negative consequences of taking it too far. Oh, how I tried every combination in the book. And again and again, I pushed right past my own boundaries and even deeper into my addiction with each attempt.

I would wake up in the morning after a particularly bad binge and swear to myself that THIS IS IT. No more. And I’d do so well; for a day, a weekend, even four months in a row one time. “I’ve got this,” I’d announce to myself and others. I’d think smugly how easy this not drinking thing seemed to be, and how everyone who struggles with it surely just didn’t have the right combination of self-discipline and willpower.

But then it would happen. Sometimes suddenly, like the time I just couldn’t take it anymore at a party where I found myself miserable and with no recovery tools to fall back on. I grabbed a glass of wine and instantly felt a mixture of relief and dread, knowing that the night would end up in a blackout, but unable to stop at that one drink. Or other times I’d plan out my “reemergence” into the drinking world, deciding that it was time for me to act like a grown up and enjoy a drink or two with my spouse or my friends, reassuring myself and everyone around me that I had just needed a little break but that this time I’d be fine. And I never was fine. Within a week or two, I’d have a binge episode and wake up hungover yet again, filled with guilt and shame and hopelessness.

Finally, one Sunday morning after a particularly bad night filled with anger and yelling and regrettable behavior, I knew I’d had enough. I knew I couldn’t make it through yet another round of broken promises, and I wasn’t sure my family could, either. I looked around at my beautiful home and loving husband and children, and knew that doing it my way all those years was about to cause me to lose all that was dear to me. This drug, alcohol, had complete power over my life and had made my life unmanageable, and no amount of promises to myself could ever keep me sane and sober for good.

I picked up the phone and called the one person I knew who could help me. She had once mentioned in passing her recovery program, and I knew she had something that I wanted–serenity. That day I took off my mask of confidence, and I asked for help and guidance to stay away from this life-ruining substance. I knew I couldn’t do it on my own, and luckily, from that day until now, I haven’t had to for one second.

– Amy H.