I Am Me: Step 1
At the beginning of the recovery process, it can be difficult to know where to begin. There seem to be more questions than answers. How did I get to this place in my life? Is there more to life than this? I know something is wrong, but how do I get help? Who will help me? Does anyone care enough about me to help me? Do I even care? What do I want? Who am I? Do I have a purpose in this world? It can feel overwhelming. How do I know this? I’ve lived it.
I remember when I first started my journey of recovery, I had no idea what I was doing, where I was going or who I was. I didn’t know how to make even the smallest decisions for my life. The only thing I knew was that I needed a change—a BIG change. My life had fallen apart and I had only a shred of hope left. It turns out that the little shred of hope was all I needed to begin the recovery process—that and a very supportive family and new friends who were sympathetic to my process.
After the first few weeks of sober living, the fog in my head began to lift. I woke up one morning and noticed a poster hanging on the wall of the guest room in my aunt and uncle’s house. It was a poem by Virginia Satir called I Am Me. It goes like this:
In all the world, there is no one exactly like me.
There are persons who have some parts like me,
but no one adds up exactly like me.
Therefore, everything that comes out of me
is authentically mine because I alone choose it.
I own everything about me
My body including everything it does;
My mind including all its thoughts and ideas;
My eyes including the images of all they behold;
My feelings whatever they may be…
anger, joy, frustration, love, disappointment, excitement
My Mouth and all the words that come out of it
polite, sweet or rough, correct or incorrect;
My Voice loud or soft.
And all my actions, whether they be to others or to myself.
I own my fantasies, my dreams, my hopes, my fears.
I own all my triumphs and successes, all my failures and mistakes.
Because I own all of me I can become intimately acquainted with me.
By doing so I can love me and be friendly with me in all parts.
I can then make it possible for all of me to work in my best interests.
I know there are aspects about myself that puzzle me,
and other aspects that I do not know.
But as long as I am friendly and loving to myself,
I can courageously and hopefully, look for solutions to the puzzles
and for ways to find out more about me.
However I look and sound, whatever I say and do,
And whatever I think and feel at a given moment in time is me.
This is authentic and represents where I am in that moment in time.
When I review later how I looked and sounded, what I said and did,
And how I thought and felt, some parts may turn out to be unfitting.
I can discard that which is unfitting,
And keep that which proved fitting,
And invent something new for that which I discarded.
I can see, hear, feel, think, say and do.
I have the tools to survive, to be close to others, to be productive,
and to make sense and order out of the world of people
and things outside of me.
I own me, and therefore I can engineer me.
I am me and I am okay.
After I read it, an idea sprang to life. After so many years of hazy living, I finally had a moment of clarity. I wanted to think about myself in this way. I wanted to figure out what I really like and dislike, my strengths, my weakness, my values, my beliefs and above all, my purpose in life. At this point I didn’t know myself. I knew what others had said about me, and more times than not, accepted it as truth, but did that mean that this is who I am? I wasn’t so sure. I liked what the poem said—I get to choose who I am and what I want to be a part of me. It was so empowering, but it was also a little scary. This meant that everything I had known to be true may not be true anymore and this meant there would be some things that I would be letting go. It also meant getting really honest with me—about everything, and this is exactly what I did. I remember feeling shame, guilt, regret and fear, which are not always pleasant feelings to feel, but along with that honesty followed relief, hope and a desire for change and a new life; a life I could be proud of and accept. The more I was honest with me, the more I could be honest with others. This encouraged open and vulnerable relationships. Eventually, my life and lifestyle began to change. Addiction began to lose its power over me.
What is interesting is that the first step in the 12-steps was playing out in the very early stages of my recovery process, but I had never even read it. It wasn’t until years later that I read the 12-steps and found that I had unknowingly gone through each step at some point in my life. My intent for this blog is to share my story and my journey through the 12-steps. My hope is that it will inspire you and empower you to find out who you are and who you are meant to be without addiction. The first step is to get honest with you.
1. We admitted we were powerless over our addiction - that our lives had become unmanageable.