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.