Day 74 – Learning the 4th Step in the 1st Step

I spent a month in rehab, learning the tools that would serve me in recovery. During one session, the speaker talked about there being 4 steps in the 1st step. We admit we’re powerless…we accept we’re powerless…we accept that we’ve accepted we’re powerless…and finally, we surrender. What I took away for my journey is it’s easy to come to admit my powerlessness in the relative safety of an inpatient treatment center – my “step #1.1.” And that’s valid and real. But, it takes some time – and some experience “living life on life’s terms” before I more fully understand what it means…and reach the point, through some “life tests” and “lessons learned,” where I truly surrender.

Over the past 2 weeks, I’ve been through 2 very trying experiences that put my new tools to the test. They challenged my thinking – was I really understanding…was I really trusting my Higher Power…was I really working my program of recovery? In the first situation, I called some friends in recovery and caught myself before using. But, I now realize I had already entered into relapse by that point. “You can be in Recovery or in Relapse – but not both at the same time.” During the second situation, I came a lot closer to using. I asked for help knowing I was facing a stressful time – but held onto some “open time” that led me to invite someone over to use. I stopped the cycle before I was able to follow through — but again – I had already relapsed mentally and spiritually. Through sharing those experiences in group, I realized I had become complacent already – after about 72 days of sobriety. I had fallen into auto-pilot on a plateau…and it was time to move off that and keep the path of recovery moving upward.
What I know realize is those two experiences were “accepting” (step #1.2) and “accepting I had accepted” (step #1.3). I made it through the challenges, and learned a lot through sharing and listening to others. I realized how I need to allow myself to feel “enough” when tough situations or losses come along, less I ignore or numb those feelings — only to surface later in a relapse. So, I became aware that I was working my way through that first step…Step 1.1, 1.2 and 1.3 were over…one more step to go!
Today it came. I was fired from my job for violation of our company’s substance abuse policy. On Monday – 4 days ago (experience #1.3) I turned myself into the police after having learned a warrant had finally been issued for my drug overdose & 911 call in December — the event that led to my treatment and recovery. Following company policy, I reported that to my management and HR this morning at 10:30am. At 4:30pm, after 20 years with my employer, I was terminated for violation of that policy. The reason — working for a pharmaceutical company, substance abuse is taken very seriously as it jeopardizes the firm’s reputation. The firm never states in writing there is zero tolerance — but essentially, that’s what I learned.
I surrender…
I know my Higher Power will take care of me, as He has demonstrated so clearly over the past months. “He didn’t save me from the ocean waves only to drag me onto shore and beat me with a baseball bat.”
I have amazing peace amidst this loss because I now more fully understand Step 1 — that I must surrender my addiction and my unmanageable life to my Higher Power. It is through surrendering I find peace. It is through maintaining peace and a connection with my Higher Power, the Recovery Community and my Feelings…that I will stay clean and sober…for Today.
I’m grateful for the work that God is doing in my life. I am grateful for the people He has placed in my life who support and love me in spite of my humanness. I am grateful for the miracle of life — because today, my being alive is a precious gift that I no longer take for granted. He is doing for me what I was unable to do for myself.
March 5, 2010

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I see life as full of possibilities and the world full of beautiful people possessing unique and often untapped talents. I’m a learner and connector, seeking ways to leverage the abundance in this world through strong community.

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