My life was out of control, but I still thought I could control my loved one’s drinking.

  • Cold Wednesday in April. The beginning of the story but also the middle of the story.
  • Where is the beginning?
    • When I learned, as a child, to take care of everyone else first? That I couldn’t be happy unless everyone around me was happy, too?
    • When almost all the romantic relationships in my early life were with someone who needed “help”?
    • When I married an alcoholic (not that I knew it at the time)?
    • When I realized her drinking was a problem and started trying to control it?
    • When I was living in despair and anger and rage as a result?
  • That cold Wednesday: 
    • I heard the 3 Cs for the “first” time, and felt a weight lifted.
    • Found the pamphlet Has Your Life Been Affected by Someone Else’s Drinking? I answered “yes” to 16 of the 20 questions.
  • My first meeting — I am not alone.
  • Step one: accepting my powerlessness. 
  • Step two: rejecting God, but finding a higher power speaking through the program.
  • Step three: “fake it until I make it” — “act as if” — Hindsight tells me that committing to work the program was and is a Step 3 decision.
  • Step four: SO SCARY. I worked the steps with a small group. We met weekly. Accountability kept me going, and hearing others’ sharing brought the understanding that I am not uniquely broken, but am just human. A powerful release of shame and blame.
  • Step five: “I’m only as sick as my secrets”. I have found that I cannot change my “defects of character” without admitting the “exact nature of my wrongs” out loud to another human.
  • Step six: What does this even mean? “Entirely ready”? ALL my defects? And HOW? Turns out that for me, this is about really accepting myself as I am, and that when I do that, then I am ready to change. This is where recovery starts.
  • Step seven: Ask for change. Trusting the process. Practicing new behaviors. My HP releases me from being stuck in old behavior but I have to practice the new way — that’s “my part”.
  • Step eight: Who did I hurt? What was “my part” and how did I injure them? Am I ready to make amends? Can I be willing to become ready?
  • Step nine: Amend means to “make better”, to “improve”. Step nine is not about apology. It is about admitting my role in events and about changing my behavior so it won’t happen in the future. 
  • Step ten: I love this step because it keeps my life “clean”. I no longer have to carry guilt and shame over things I did, because I can make immediate amends and move forward.
  • Step eleven: 
  • Step twelve: The only promise in the steps — we *will* have a spiritual awakening. My awakening was gradual and I only recognized it when the book asked me “Have you had a spiritual awakening?” Yes! I am living in a new way. I have serenity and a stable place to stand. I have tools to deal with the inevitable times when I am knocked off balance by events and people.
  • I came in broken and angry, full of shame. I thought it was my mission to get my wife to stop drinking and I was failing. Here I learned how to be a “me” that I actually like, to understand where the boundary between me and the rest of the world lies, to be able to ask for the wisdom to know the difference, and to experience serenity even when the world around me is full of chaos


Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.

Music from the Show

Tracy Grammer – Keep the Ashtray Clean

2 comments on “My Life was Unmanageable – 350

  1. Christine says:

    This was an amazing episode, so needed, thank you!

  2. Alishiya says:

    Thank you Spencer for a wonderful episode
    I wish you and your family courage and peace as you go through this tough time.
    Remember you have an army of people around the world who support and pray for you
    All the best , your podcast is a place I come to whenever I need guidance or simply to be with friends

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