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.