Once more: The alcoholic at certain times has no effective mental defense against the first drink. Except in a few rare cases, neither he nor any other human being can provide such a defense. His defense must come from a Higher Power. – Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 43
I could spend a lot more time inching through the remainder of this chapter, but I have pretty much exhausted what I have to say about the First Step by now. And this is exactly where we are. The concluding paragraph sums it up pretty well. As we work through each step, I want to recap what we just covered, where we’re going and, surprisingly, what happens in the “cracks” between the Steps.
Okay, where are we going? Bill leads into the next chapter with the final two words of this one: “Higher Power.” The next chapter is one addressed entirely to the nature of the “spiritual awakening (experience)” necessary for recovery and to the concept of a Higher Power.
But before we get there, it would be a good idea to look at the “crack.” You may ask, “What the hell are you talking about?” Go ahead.
Here’s what I am talking about. The division of the program into discrete steps was a necessity when the book was being written to make clear the common elements of each man’s recovery. (Sorry Marty Mann, you weren’t around yet.) But none of the early members had this step-by-step experience, and if you really think about it, neither do we today. I think that as we work the steps there is a continuum of experience with milestones along the way. We never really jump from one step to the next.
What is the crack like between Steps One and Two? I have to believe it is different for everyone, but I’ll use my own case as an example. You may be able to apply it to yours.
My crack could be described in one word: hopelessness. I knew about AA but I resisted it for two seemingly contradictory reasons. First, I was afraid it wouldn’t work. AA was the last house on the block and if that failed me, then what hope did I have? On the other hand, I was afraid that it would work, and that I would end up living without alcohol the rest of my life, a life I could not comprehend. I describe this as being in Death’s waiting room. I couldn’t die and I couldn’t live. I knew full well that I was a hopeless alcoholic but I had no sense that any other life would be better. Think about that: even if someone dangled happy useful sobriety in front of me I had no appetite for it. I could not move toward happiness even if I wanted to.
This is the state into which Bill and the others tried to steer the “pigeon.” This was the condition that Rowland H. was in when Carl Jung pronounced him hopeless. “Is there nothing else?” he cried. But keep in mind that this is a passage, a moment when the sufferer turns from darkness to light. It’s kind of like rolling out of bed. Hardly instantaneous in my case. So we pass from Step One to Step Two, keeping in mind that this is not a Kodak moment, frozen in time. It is more like the moment when we awake from a dream.