On July 28, 2012, I was at a complete loss. Despite years of trying to control my drinking, I had yet again approached a social situation with intentions to “just have one,” only to wake up that morning with no recollection from the night before. All I knew was things had not gone well. My girlfriend (now wife) made a simple ultimatum – alcohol or her, but I couldn’t have both. It was an ultimatum I’d heard many times before, in various forms, but something about this time was different. I was done trying to keep up the illusion I had any semblance of control with my drinking. Despite my very best efforts and sincere intentions, I simply could not predict how much I would drink once I had the first sip of alcohol. I was finally willing to admit I was powerless over this disease.
The 12 Steps are the solution which continues to show me there is a better life I can live if I am willing to be humble, take action and trust my Higher Power.
For years, I’d used alcohol to fill a deep void in my life. I spent a lot of time and energy trying to convince others I didn’t have a problem, and I could quit any time. The problems with these statements were they were completely false, and deep down I knew it. I knew I was lying to myself, but I was terrified to come out and actually admit I was powerless when it came to drinking. It terrified me to think I might be perceived as weak by my friends and family. The great paradox of admitting I was powerless over my drinking was it created an opportunity to allow something else in, and for me that something else was God. My Higher Power gave me the strength to forge ahead during some difficult times in my recovery, and continues to do so today.
After that moment of surrender, I was able to admit I needed help. I made my best effort to stay humble and to listen to the wisdom of others who had gone before me. They showed me there was a better life waiting for me, but only if I was willing to trust to the process and go to any lengths to get it. In essence, my admission to being powerless and understanding my life was unmanageable led me to identify the problem, which was Step 1. Once I identified the problem, I could then work towards the solution.
After five years in recovery the one thing I remind myself each day is powerlessness is not the same as helplessness. I admit I am powerless over my disease to create an opportunity for something bigger than me (my Higher Power) to lead me through my sobriety. What is essential about this admission is I take action each day to maintain the spiritual condition that allows me to remain sober. Once I take Step One, and I’ve admitted I am powerless and my life has become unmanageable, I’ve identified the problem. Next, I then have to take the necessary steps towards the solution. The 12 Steps are the solution which continues to show me there is a better life I can live if I am willing to be humble, take action and trust my Higher Power.
Brandon Antoskow, LPC-MHSP is the clinical coordinator in the Men’s Program at Cumberland Heights. He has been at Cumberland Heights for over three years, and enjoys watching the miracle of recovery take form each and every day. Brandon lives in Franklin, TN with his wife Kelsey and dog Cash.