Over the years Serenity Sisters considered the first step of the 12 step program as inelastic to our needs. This is the Serenity Sister Step One:
“As women, we admit we could act powerless over unhealthy sex and love choices — that our lives became unmanageable.”
Compare to AA: “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable.”
Unlike the alcoholic, the issue for Serenity Sisters was not addiction per-se. But social conditioning was so deep that you’d think we were sex addicts, creatures of self-doom, or perpetual stockholm syndrome ladies.
It was also the case that many of us were indeed addicts – to drugs or alcohol. Addictions were certainly tangled up and influenced our socialized unhealthy choices with love and sex.
The responsibility was ours – the Serenity Sister had to sit down and sort out her business. What was “can act powerless” and what was “powerlessness” ? It could be both. Or just one.
A Serenity Sister could ‘act powerless’ because she was – she was a drug addict.
Or, she might ‘act powerless’ over choices that were hers to make. Due to cultural conditioning she had no imagination for authentic choice – for the human spirit this is worse than addiction!
The ‘could act powerless’ nuance was not a dilution of AA traditional Step One but an essential accommodation to realize full potential and recovery as a reality – for women.
The Serenity Sister first step reflects freedom of choice – no one else can make you admit anything about your soul. Were we acting ‘as if’ or were we acting ‘in fact’? This reflection is our choice and responsibility to ourselves.
We have a saying “A Serenity Sister is NOT a victim! She is taking herself back with love peace and acceptance.” Victims in need of rescue? No. We needed to wake up to choice. Take it back.
The traditional first step is one-dimensional as it deals with addiction. Like the Serenity Sister version, no one can force you admit to anything – despite evidence to all witnesses. Ours goes further and is inclusive of authentic choices that seem out of reach: it serves the mission of the tradition while opening it up to even more emphasis for self-actualization.