Step 1: Obsession and Al-Anon

I love how I fit in with the drunks of recovery. Seamless, really. I’m naturally selfish, dishonest, self-seeking and fearful. The program fit me like my favorite wine glass fit my hand. Recovery has been hard work, but I’ve loved it. I had so far to go and so much to learn, and then so much to share…

It’s taken me over 5 years to see that I need Al-Anon principles to supplement my primary program of AA. I finally saw that I was obsessed with other people’s recovery, with ‘helping’ friends and family, with teaching what I’ve learned in a way that might bring change to others. Obsessed is never a good place to be, even if it’s fueled by a Step – or I thought it was.

Step 12 – Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs ~ Alcoholics Anonymous, 2012, p 60

I was trying to carry the 12 Step message to others, and trying to practice the principles in my daily life. But, I was too invested in the decisions of certain people and found that I was living each day focused on their life, sometimes on their recovery, to the detriment of my own. This was not a good application of Step 12 and those closest to me were aware that I was getting out of balance. I was moving into dysfunctional behavior.

It was becoming an obsession, this helping. I constantly tried to think of another way to do or say something to ‘help’ others. Just as a typical Al-Anon would pour out the booze, make excuses for the alcoholic and try to talk some sense into them, I was coaching, calling, emailing, counseling, and fretting my way into insane behavior. It’s called obsession. It is.

I cannot force others to recover, to be healthy, to admit their addictions. I cannot work the program for my friends, rescue my mother, nor conquer all my issues in 5 years. I had to stop. I just had to. I realized that my life, though sober, was becoming unmanageable again – and the unmanageability was not over my situation, it was over other people’s issues. How sick is that?

It was harder to admit than being an alcoholic! Truly. I never wanted to be an enabler. In this instance, I’m one of those people who try to ‘change others’. Sounds really twisted to me. I don’t like it a bit. Give me an allergy of the body and an inability to stop after one. That makes sense. This doesn’t.

Obsession is ugly. I’m shedding it.

Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over our addiction or dysfunction – that our lives had become unmanageable.