Is There a Zero Step in a 12-Step Program?

Because that’s where we’re at, the alcoholic husband and I: step zero.

What’s step zero? That’s the step where doors slam, wife begs husband to lower his voice, and he storms out.

It’s the step where we don’t hear each other, and don’t treat one another with compassion or understanding.

Zero step is full of anger, bitterness, and misplaced blame.

Zero step is a lonely, sad place.

I have asked, begged, pleaded, suggested, and gently asked husband why he hasn’t started working the steps.

He’s afraid.

Of what?

He doesn’t know.

He should be afraid. Afraid he’ll lose his family, me, his home. I thought a week drunk without seeing the kids was his rock bottom, that he’d come asking to make amends, but I was wrong. Foolish, even.

Because here we are, on step zero.

I’m preparing myself–and the kids–for the fact that there may not be any more steps. I have to be okay with that.

His is not my life to live.

No, my life will be a rich one, full of life and happiness. I will love my children fully, work my ass off, remember to dance with my boys, take yoga, and laugh with friends. I will read, and I will write. I will think and I will act. I will be deliberate and kind.

I will be my best self, whether he’s on step zero or five.

This I know.