My First Step Workshop participation - a share

My name is Mary.

I was reluctant in the beginning to own the need for Al Anon for myself. Purely by the grace of God, soon I became a willing and serving participant of the program and felt a sense of belonging incomparable to any other...all thanks to the sharing of life situations and happy faces of other members in my early meetings. So for many years, with active gaps from physical meetings I continued to share, gain from the Al Anon program and supporting my fellow members and serve in my home group to strengthen the unity and growth of the group. All through these years for me having a sponsor and working the steps was only something that was desirable and should do, but not yet.  But the need was simmering and it was so for many of us in the group.  The urgency was precipitated by the fact that our parallel AA group attended by our respective spouses had completed step workshops and seeing their freedom from shackles overall, we wanted the same for us.  The same workshop leaders (one is also an Al Anon member) who conducted the workshop for the AA members graciously accepted to conduct a 12 step workshop for us Al Anon members! 

For the first time, I began to grasp the intensity of each step in a small way and its relevance to all areas of my life. We worked through each step, step by step over a 3 month period during the weekends and I was mandatorily required to take a sponsor as part of the workshop to work the steps outside the classroom.  Finally, I took a sponsor, thanks to this workshop!  I realised that by being in a structured step workshop, it is easy to follow the working of the steps in a planned way as detailed by the workshop leaders.  

Until this unmanageability and thus life had become unmanageable! Before the Workshop, I did not hold much importance to the first step.  I used to think I am already in the program and now by meetings and service I hope to make my life manageable.  

In the workshop, Step One was taken up elaborately.  Admitted, Powerless, Unmanageable…my life had become unmanageable.  The step reads ‘had’! It wasn't only when the alcoholic came into my life that my life became unmanageable.  Life ‘had’ become unmanageable way back when I was much younger.   I felt that the blanket cover of the blame on the alcoholic that I had, was removed and I stood naked in the knowledge that I myself made my life unmanageable. I myself am responsible for the different etched deductions I made of the different life situations while growing up. This we did through different exercises of recollecting incidents and events and writing down the conclusion made about oneself in the given situation.    Like in one of my recollection…how I deduced and decided it is better for me (and also works well with parents and my 6 siblings) to be quiet and stubborn about what I want, at the cost of not expressing myself freely.  And this continued to be reinforced in later incidents.  Such and many more I got to see about myself in the workshop as defects of character that created my

We were also given a way out of unmanageability and defects of character with the help of a golden Key Prayer. I took up my first Golden Key…of Being ‘At play’ a responsible doable conscious choice of a  Way of Being to alleviate the kicking in of my unmanageability.   And by practising my golden key prayer frequently, after the workshop, I surely know that Unmanageability is not a bad thing any more. I am responsible for my well being.  I can now say as I write this, six years from my first step working...Admitted that I was/am powerless over alcohol and other people and things…that my life had become/is unmanageable and with the antidote of the Golden Key, the unlocking is a continuous process, a way to surrender.

Working each of the steps revealed so much of me that I did not know existed.  To do my fourth and fifth step was like a never before experience the first time.  To share with God and with sponsor alike! God listened and sponsor reflected God’s words for me.  Listing out the persons I had harmed, and making amends - feeling free and humble to say I am sorry - unburdening myself of the weight I was carrying.  

Tools like ‘listen to learn’ rather than ‘listen to reply’ about my own voice in the head was a totally new distinction… a game changer.

Authentic fear (good fear) vs. Inauthentic fear (gripped by the reasons stopping me from taking action) to have a full and happy experience

I can never forget or re-experience the joy of Working the steps for the first time, the joy and Al-anon members.  This is something I could never do without working the steps and the guidance of my sponsor.  I have repeated working the steps with the same workshop leaders and each time it gets deeper and deeper peeling layers and layers of the hardened exterior. And it is been a while now …not done any step work. Freedom and sense of being a full-fledged al anon member having worked the steps and being able to work steps with other members being a sponsor.   One of the greatest outcomes of the first step working was that I enrolled to train under the workshop leaders to be able to conduct a step workshop in future.  And in the same year, I did conduct a step workshop.

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to do the step work along with my co Al-Anon members. We shared lunch goodies and intense and deep times among ourselves.  I thank the Workshop leaders.  My life has opened up since.  My husband and children, my family and friends are happy witnesses to the slow unfolding of the metamorphosis in me.  

Most of all I am happy and relaxed knowing who I am…my weaknesses and who I choose to be on a daily basis.

The 12 Step Workshop

The 12-Step Workshop - or SWS for short is the entry-level programme for people to work the 12-steps of AA. Coached by AAs, for AAs and of AAs, the SWS is a 3-day programme.


The Promises Workshop, or PWS for short, is for people who've maintained long-term sobriety and have completed doing at least two SWSs. They need to have also actually worked all the 12 Steps in their entirety.

Train the Trainer

WSLB believes in the AA tradition of "give it away to keep it". Hence a Train the Trainer (T3WS) Course.