Powerless: A scrappy little bitch

The other evening, I was speaking with my sponsor from Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). I had called him to discuss my last relapse and see what I needed to do to get back on track and tackle this issue of recovery head on. He asked me something that I am still working on wrapping my mind around. He asked, “You have a problem being powerless, don’t you?”

In a word: Yes.

The idea of being powerless is akin to being weak, if you ask me. Of course, being an alcoholic, one must admit they are powerless over the first drink, right?  But that’s an issue for me.  Much like I have a problem calling alcoholism a disease, because it sounds like an excuse to me. It sounds like someone blaming anything but themselves for this weakness. Being powerless, means I have no ability to impact the outcome of something. I struggle with this idea, because I have always felt that all challenges can be overcome.

But yet, I have often found myself in a circle of problems that end up involving me going back out and drinking. I face some challenges that I haven’t found the answer yet. I have found these things to be unmanageable. I have encountered powerlessness, but I don’t want to accept it as such. I want an answer; in fact, I feel like there must be an answer.

Of course, this is the onset of the restlessness, irritability and discontent so often discussed in AA meetings. And once those feelings occur, it readily becomes obsessive thoughts in my head. And this obsession begins to center on how I deal with the thoughts and let them go to clear my mind. But I do not clear my mind, because the thoughts never go away. They linger, destroying my ability to come up with solutions and then I want to ease the discomfort of them all. I have discovered that the way to escape from the thoughts and feelings is to drink. I can give myself a reprieve.

Anyone with an iota of sense can grasp that the alcohol won’t make things better. I know this. It’s obvious. And yet, being an alcoholic, means that I convince myself that I can come up with a solution to my problems if I can just get rid of all the negativity I feel and get rid of the conflicting thoughts surrounding the decisions I need to make. So, I convince myself that I will be able to do this – it’s a positive message I received all through out life: I have the skills and abilities to accomplish any goal.

Which is true, until I discover that I really have serious doubts about how I can manage the problems I’ve created. And worse negativity sets in, worse drinking sets in, despair and hopelessness sets in, leading to an inevitable moral collapse of my mental faculties.

This is the proof that I have become powerless.

I don’t like it.

Day 9

19 thoughts on “Powerless: A scrappy little bitch

  1. Life throws stuff at us that, despite our best efforts, we just cannot do anything about. Feeling powerless to effect change isn’t being weak as much as it is running face-first into a wall and, for some reason, not being able to stop yourself from continually running into that wall no matter how you try to stop. The irritability, frustration, and other negative emotions plague a person… and it can drive them to drink.

    You kinda remind me of my late father, who was an alcoholic and it seemed to me that it was a trait shared on his side of the family; I never visited his parents and didn’t see them with a glass of their favorite hair of the dog close at hand and no matter the time of day. I came to understand that on top of having parents who were functional alcoholics, he had his own demons that were chewing on his ass – what they were was something I could never get him to talk about. He’d go to AA meetings, be good to go for periods of time being sober and something would push him back to drinking.

    I came to understand that at some point, he just gave up trying to break the cycle he found himself in and your writing today got my attention big time because, true enough, he was powerless to stop his downward spiral. I’ve never pretended to understand why he was the way he was but as I grew into adulthood, got married, had kids and all the other piles of crap that would find a way to land on you, sure, there were days when I’d come home from a hectic day at work and walking to a clusterfuck of family issues and, man, would a drink be nice right about now?

    It seems such an “easy” solution, doesn’t it? Just have a drink or two to chill out, get your thoughts together… and the first time life started dumping on me, I understood why my father was an alcoholic; life was throwing shit on him and in huge quantities and he just couldn’t cope with it, couldn’t figure out how to get out of the way of the shit falling on him and, yeah, his drinking just made things even worse for him.

    I think he knew that if he could stop drinking, things could be somewhat better for him but I also think that by the time he realized this, it was too late for him to salvage his life – he’d already lost everything that meant something to him and, as I said, he just gave up trying. However, the one bright spot out of what I’ll call the tragedy of his life is that he showed me how not to deal with the shit life throws at us and whenever it did and that thought crossed my mind that I needed a drink, the drink never got poured because I was determined to not fall into the same trap that he managed to.

    It’s not that I don’t drink at all but if I have two or three drinks a year, I’d be a little surprised. As I write this to you, I’m looking at a bottle of very good (and expensive) wine sitting here on my desk… and it’s been sitting there for over a year now. Life is still throwing shit my way – I learned that I have Stage III polycystic kidney disease and there’s no cure for it, no medications to be taken to deal with it and the only things that can be done is to wind up on dialysis or get a kidney transplant. When the doctor explained it to me, yeah, I thought, “I need a drink!”

    And then I thought, “No, I don’t… because it’s not gonna solve anything and just might make this PKD worse. This is just one of many things that I’m powerless to do anything about… but it doesn’t make me weak and thanks to having a father (and most of his family) being an alcoholic, I know not to give into the temptation because this is one of those things that I can’t do anything about (except to drink a hell of a lot of water) so I’m not worried about it – it is what it is and whatever is gonna happen will happen. In the meantime, I have other things that require my attention and I need to have my head on straight to deal with them.

    I’ve told you this to illustrate that while you may be powerless to effect change, it doesn’t mean you should give up trying to effect change; you just have to be determined to effect change and drinking every time shit piles up on you isn’t going to help you one bit – but you already know this. I’m not saying that you don’t have problems that you find troubling – everyone does – but as I’ve been saying to you for a while now, you have to find the strength and the will to do something about the things you can do something about – and your biggest challenge is to stop drinking so that you can be determined to work on the shit you can change but not worry yourself about the shit you can’t do anything about.

    You just might feel like a failure because you can’t effect change and I’m here to tell you that you’re not a failure because you are trying but I will also tell you that the moment you give up trying, you have truly and surely failed and that, sir, should be something that is totally and completely unacceptable to you.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you for telling me all of this; I know that you are speaking with the full force of heart, experience and emotions. I’ve always appreciated you being straight forward. Part of me titling this with “scrappy little bitch” is to emphasize the point that it is not in my nature to give up and I have not. I’ve had set-backs, I’ve struggled to understand myself, but I have not yielded the fight!
      Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hmm, trying to think of a constructive spin to put on powerlessness. Hopefully my made up example isn’t too lame. I guess if I was to plunk myself down in a construction site I would be powerless to build a house. And if I admit that to myself rather than farting around trying to stack 2×4’s on top of each other, then I can realize that I need to go out and learn the right skills and get the right tools so I can come back and build that house.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Me too! I struggle with alcoholism being a disease for the same reason as you – it feels like that takes the responsibility away from me and makes me a victim. I wouldn’t feel the same way if I got cancer – I would happily concede that’s a disease/illness. But with alcoholism there is a choice because it’s me who chooses to drink it, I’ve never had a drink at gun point. And like you, I’m a I-can-do-it-myself kind of person who HATES relying on others or asking for help, it literally makes me want to SCREAM! No easy answers, but from what I can tell I drank MUCH more than you and there was NO control…. So the truth was staring me in the face really – I am powerless over alcohol. But that’s OK. It’s a highly addictive poison and I have truly realised it never did anything good for me. For a less extreme drinker (like you perhaps?) there could well be at least perceived benefits – maybe it DOES feel like it relaxes you etc? Anyway. Random thoughts from me as usual. And the usual big hugs! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I read about your fight with conflicting thoughts and am drawn to the basis of the question. How do we decide which thoughts are valid and ones we should keep around in order to promote healing inside us, and which thoughts we need to get rid of and run from because they cannot bring any wholesome healing? If I can keep only the good, profitable thoughts, I have a chance to move on down a good road, rather than being doomed to a cul-de-sac of endless recycling of bad behaviors. Does that make sense?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. That first question is tricky for me. I keep asking myself “Isn’t deciding to take that first drink choosing to be powerless? After all, once it’s in, there is no power anymore, it’s a release of power, or?” So I’m wondering, maybe it’s not about whether you have a hard time being powerless, it’s that you are giving your power away too easily? Here’s to Day 10.

    Liked by 1 person

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