POWERLESS: lacking strength, resources, or authority to manage or control a person, place, thing, or event; tending to require help.
POWERLESSNESS: a persistent, permanent, or ongoing lack of strength, resources, or authority to control a person, place, thing, or event; persistent, permanent, or ongoing tendency to require help.
If you have come to this forum then you have perhaps started on the journey which we all have shared--a gratifying journey to discover NOT WHY we are the way we are, but a journey rather to learn how to change the way we are.
The foundation for that change is a simple rite.
In AA, we express to ourselves and to others like us, "We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable." [Step One, the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous.]
Few of us have really stopped to consider the meaning of those words. We have chosen our sponsors, we have started the saga of 90 meetings in 90 days, and we have begun the daily ritual of saying "My name is [Jim], and I am an alcoholic."
HOWEVER..., without truly knowing the meaning of the words in the first step, we will soon become critics of the program; and our criticism, based on ignorance of "Step One", will become the first link to our next relapse.
In short, we will become victims of knowledge without understanding....
The idea of powerless applies to the first drink, the first drug, the first manic obsession, the first negative obsession of depression. All of these "firsts" are choices we face.
When we CHOOSE to take the first drink or drug; when we CHOOSE to obsess over some manic thought or some depressive emotion, we become POWERLESS to control the consequences of our choice.
We ARE powerless once we have made those choices, and the course of our lives as a result of those choices has become unmanageable. It is not the obsession itself which makes us powerless, but it is the CHOICE, the decision, to take action, to respond to the obsesssion in an unreasonable or irrational way, which leads to our powerlessness. When we choose to indulge the obsession, we set into motion an unmanageable often disastrous series of events.
We admitted that our lives had become habitually unmanageable, because we habitually made bad choices.
Thus, "Step One" summarizes the dilemma we face, and admitting that we are alcoholic, addicted, and mentally ill gives us a daily, up-front reminder that we need to learn to make better choices.
For ALL of us who WANT to recover, that daily reminder is essential to restore our commitment not merely to make different choices, but also to make those choices the benchmark for our new way of life.
Therefore, Step One, along with our new understanding, leads us to our first life changing choice.
Each day then, we choose (one day at a time) not to take that first drink or drug, and not to indulge that first manic thought or depressive emotion.
For those of us especially who are new to recovery, we turn immediately to our groups and our sponsors for the support, the knowledge, and the direction which will enable us to honor our new choice--one day at a time.
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My name is Jim, and I have Bipolar One with a history of alcoholism and addiction. I am from Florida.
The topic is "Taking the first step toward recovery."
The questions for discussiion are:
(1) What do AA, NA, DRA mean when they state "We admitted that we were POWERLESS over _______, that our lives had become UNMANAGEABLE?"
(2) Give an example/examples of HOW POWERLESS and UNMANAGEABLE have affected your life. ...how your choice to drink, to drug, and to react to your mood swings made your life unmanageable, uncontrollable, disastrous, and so forth.
Please don't worry about what you say or how you say it, or what others think. Part of the first step is "getting it off our chest" and perhaps hearing it for ourselves, maybe even saying it and hearing our own confession for the first time ever!
As I've said, my name is Jim, and I have bipolar one with alcoholism and addiction.
In Sepember 2002, I found myself on my knees at 1:00 AM. I felt I couldn't go on living, but I was afraid to die.
Out of booze, out of hope, and almost out of time.... I had been drinking all day, but I couldn't get drunk. I didn't have any tranquillizers to finish the job. My heart ached and my body shook with paroxysms of fear.
My wife came to me in the darkness to say "I love you." Then she went to bed.
Her declaration had begun to sound to me like a sad cliche.
Still on my knees, I cried out, "God help me!"
I couldn't have chosen better words to express my powerlessness.
I was powerless to control my addiction/alcoholism. Even in my cups, at that moment, I could not comprehend getting through the night without another drink.
The answer to my prayer came at 9AM when I called the AA hotline and asked for help.
When the man who is now my sponsor came and took me to the hospital, I began my journey to recovery.
Every day of that journey has started with my acknowledgement that I am powerless over alcohol and drugs. Every day for nearly two thousand days, I have made the choice not to drink or drug. That single choice has been the unfailing foundation for all my choices, one day at a time.
I am happy to admit that I am powerless over alcohol and drugs, that the choice to drink or use had made my life unmanageable--to look back on my journey and recognize that the moment of my desperation and surrender had been the very things I needed in order to change!
With help I escaped my desperation. I know, with help, that you can do it too!
"Surrender to win."
In the interim since the beginning of my recovery, I have realized that the symptoms and the underlying thoughts with bipolar are not so different from the symptoms and underlying thoughts of addiction/alcoholism. I have therefore applied the principles of 12 step recovery to manage my mental illness, and, where I found that medication was not enough, I have found happiness and manageability by using the twelve steps in every aspect of my recovery.
Thanks for letting me share and for being a part of my recovery.
Now..., members of NA, AA, or DRA will probably recognize that we have been discussing Step One of their respective recovery programs.
"We admitted we were powerless over ____, and that our lives had become unmanageable."
For purposes of this discussion group, it will be important to realize, in a general sense, that we have suffered from the choices we made and the reactions we have had to people, places, and events.
We need to realize the choice for the addict to take the first drug, the choice for the alcholic to take the first drink, the choice for the substance abuser to self-medicate, the choice for the dual diagnosed individual to react in fear or without reason--all these choices are what made life unmanageable for us.
Therefore, don't you think that a proper objective for recovery is to find a way to make better choices? ...to make well reasoned choices? ...to seek to change our attitudes, beliefs, and reactions to people, places, and events? ...if nothing else, to learn to think things out, to reason with truth rather than with fear?
Admission is telling the truth. Acceptance opens the door to change what, for most of us, has been a bitter truth indeed!
Thanks for your participation and your comments. I hope, if you have more to say or you merely wish to talk to others in the group, that you will remain and visit in the DUAL DIAGNOSIS LOUNGE
or perhaps move to the private message system after the meeting.
My name is James Rist. Thank you for allowing me the honor to chair this meeting.
I'll leave this thread open for late comers. Okay?
See you next week?
06/08/2008 09:03 AM
Posts: 10109 VIP Member
Hi, my name is Norma, I have bipolar and am a recovering alcoholic. I can to the realization that I had a drinking problem years ago...and continued to drink. As I look back most of the poor choices I made during my life were when I used the alcohol to medicate myself. During a manic period the alcohol helped me sleep...during the depression (which I don't have much I tend toward the manic) the alcohol seemed to pick me up. All self deception on my part. I was really good at lying to myself.
I hit the wall one night when my son who had bipolar looked at me and said "Momma, you are a different person when you drink". It was the button that needed to be pushed. I looked at myself and realized I was a drunk, and a crazy one at that. We poured out the half full bottle of alcohol together. I haven't had a drink since. That was over a year and a half ago...some of you might say she wasn't really an alcoholic to give it up like that...do not fool yourself, I was and still am an alcoholic. And each day I have the choice to not drink alcohol. I like myself better now. And I don't have to hear others say you are only saying that because you have been drinking. I hated that...the negation of myself by others because I was drinking. Now when I say something they have to understand that it really is me saying it and not some self-medicated person. I am careful what I say and do now. I look at myself and question my motives and intentions.
I have also used the same coping mechanisms to help manage my mental illness...having been diagnosed manic-depressive (1974 lingo) the spectre of mental illness alwasy has been the monster pursuing me...sometimes catching up and sometimes I out run it. One day after being diagnosed I turned and confronted the monster...the mental illness.. the scary thing that had a name...and saw myself. I had control over this beast...it was in my power to say ok, so I have a mental illness...I have the choice to embrace it and tame it or keep on running. I embraced the beast within. And through understanding that I had a choice whether to get help or not I made the beast become my strength. I am not afraid nor ashamed of having a mental illness. I am Norma and that is how I have learned to accept and cope with both alcoholism and mental illness....
Thanks Jim for this Sunday meeting. I look forward to it all week. I hope others join us.
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