The 12 Step Sponsor’s Tool Kit: Step 1

My daughter owns a condo on King St. W. in Toronto, Canada. From the ninth floor she enjoys a great view of the west end of the city. And if you lean over her balcony a little bit and look to the east, you can see the tall buildings of the downtown core.

The reason she has such a great panorama of the city is simple: There are no tall buildings blocking her view.

Her mother and I dropped by for a visit one gray November day, and did our usual look-see from her balcony on the ninth floor. I don’t like looking down from a high-rise balcony, but the spectacle below us begged my observation.

Just across the street I saw a huge cavern where a parking lot once existed. I’m guessing this hole in the ground must have been at least one hundred feet long. But what was even more amazing was its depth.

From the ninth floor we could see all the way to the bottom of this rectangular crater. The three of us tried to estimate how far down it went. My wife thought it might be thirty feet deep, and my daughter and I guessed it had to be at least fifty.

But the sad realization soon became painfully obvious: A very tall building would soon block our wonderful view.

As I gazed into this huge hole in the ground, I reflected on my own addiction. I thought about how I had dug my own pit – not unlike the abyss I gazed into from across the street. The hole was deep, and it was unlikely that I would ever be able to climb out of it.

Beginning with a foundation

It wasn’t until I ‘hit bottom’ and decided to stop digging that recovery could begin for me. I came face-to-face with my own powerlessness. I admitted that no amount of will-power or ‘white-knuckling’ would ever get me out of that pit.

Strangely enough, it turns out that admitting to my powerlessness was the very thing that I needed to do – the thing that was necessary to begin my climb up and out of the hole in which I was trapped.

And the hole that I dug for myself? Well, it actually became part of the foundation beneath a beautiful, tall building which now represents my life in recovery!