Revisiting Powerlessness & Unmanageability.

Since, I had a relapse, my sponsor wanted me to sit down and write about Powerlessness and Unmanageability. It’s not the first time I’ve discussed this topic, but it is certainly something I need to focus on.  The recognition  of being powerless and living life in an unmanageable way is the primary step to dealing with alcoholism. But, I believe that I had thought about it with the wrong perspective and I had some bias about the idea anyways.

You see, I assumed that this step is about alcohol. It isn’t. It’s not about alcohol at all. Alcohol is merely the symptom of the much greater malady that exists in my head. I had always assumed that because I have all of the proverbial “yets” (arrests, institutionalizations, loss of jobs, loss of relationships, etc.) of alcoholism, that somehow I could not see my life as unmanageable. But, based on this most recent relapse, I realize that this could not be further from the truth. And it’s even deeper than I first assumed.

You see, I somehow assumed that I needed to manage people, places or things. Fuuuuuckkkk is that wrong! It’s total bullshit. I can’t manage squat outside of myself. I’ve even gone so far as to try and change myself to appease others – namely my wife. The bottom line is this – there is no managing another person. All I can do is manage my own behaviors. And this is something I have always believed, but I took it to a whole new level.  I was trying to predict the things that would upset or make my wife happy and trying to change basic levels of myself to try and keep her happy. I can’t do that. I’m powerless over making her happy.  Granted, I can impact her happiness by doing things that are inherently wrong, but I have no power over her decisions about her own happiness. This is the essence, is it not?

She was pissed about things she had no control over and because I somehow took on levels of responsibility for things that I did not have control over, I took it personally as if I’m somehow a failure. This is the trigger, the proverbial resentment that will set itself into my mind and make me feel a certain way and I wanted to run from that feeling and drown it. At some point, I have to find a way to manage my own self-directed emotional outbursts that are focused on myself (Certainly, I’m not suggesting I direct them at my wife). I have to change THAT.

The powerlessness and unmanageability of life is the idea that I am trying to manage and have some sort of control over anything outside my immediate sphere of influence and the reality is that that sphere of influence doesn’t exist beyond my own skin. I have no control over how my wife will react to things in life, I have no control how she’ll perceive things and I have no control over her behaviors. Although, I have every desire to make her happy, I have to look at myself and decide if what I am doing is reasonable and appropriate. I can’t engineer someone else’s emotions – which should be an obvious thing, when engineering my own emotions is difficult, right?

Day 6 of sobriety.

16 thoughts on “Revisiting Powerlessness & Unmanageability.

  1. That sounds like co-dependence as in the Melody Beattie book Codependent No More, which I just reread a month or two back. You could aslo be picking up your wife and other people’s energy through being empathic, so maybe try what it feels like if you just consider that your feelings are not all yours–like, if you say that you feel anxiety or the urge to control, but maybe you’re just a machine that measures that in someone else, so you don’t have to take it personally. Maybe that would help with this. Good luck. You’re doing great with it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Congratulations on day 6! “Just for today” I completely understand everything that your saying. What has worked for me recently because I have honestly been in the same place quite recently. I am trying to stay positive. That is it. I am trying to practice the gratitude thing and just find something good in everything even though life sucks. It has made a hell of a difference. I honestly didn’t think that it would but my overall health seems to be improving also. I for the longest time tried to control everything including my husband. I am slowly learning about boundaries and staying within my own. I am responsible for me. When my husband would get pissed off at something I would flow with his mood and we would bounce back and fourth off each other. It is a huge co dependency thing. It makes life miserable. However, I am learning that if I focus on the face in my mirror and worry about how I’m reacting to situations and what I am doing that I function so much healthier. It is not healthy for anyone to put another persons responsibility onto of their own. We can barley handle our own lives! Change begins within.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your encouraging words and sharing your own experience. Yes, I totally believe the change has to come from within, but it’s all of the things we do on the outside that might effect that change, huh? Thank you, again!


  3. I’ve been sober 10 years and I have to fight to remember that I am powerless over a great many things. It’s a hard lesson sometimes but an invaluable one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I used to have this assumption that alcoholics are “weak”, unable to be disciplined, etc., etc. Having been in the rooms of AA, I’m utterly amazed and how many people that come in are the complete opposites of my assumptions. I think so many of us are quite different in so many aspects of our lives, which makes the acceptance of being an alcoholic that much more difficult…

      Thank you, for your comment! I really appreciate it.


      1. There are still so many misconceptions about what an alcoholic is and their level of discipline. And we are quite different.


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