WE ADMITTED WE WERE POWERLESS ~
THAT OUR LIVES HAD BECOME UNMANAGEABLE
In 12 step recovery programmes this is Step 1. In Alcoholics Anonymous the full text reads;
1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol ~ that our lives had become unmanageable. ~ The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.
This is very specific and it is directly aimed at those among us who have a desire to stop drinking. However, the shorter text I have given in the heading applies to a large proportion of the people on this planet. Everything seems to be out of control, we don’t know where to turn, nothing seems to help, ‘I can’t go on like this…’ If we go to our doctor he will most likely diagnose Anxiety and Depression, and dispense something like Prozac.
Many of us will find that the drugs dispensed by our doctor don’t seem to help much. Some of us will spiral downward into severe depression, and if we were not heavy drinkers before all this happened, we may well turn to the bottle, or street drugs, unsafe casual sex, overeating, or just staring at the wall…
The sad thing is that our doctors are doing their best to help us ~ as it turns out doctors can’t much help to cure this sort of problem. To begin with, the underlying cause of our problems is probably still there. Problems at work, or money problems, marital or partnership issues, child care ~ the list of people, places and situations making people’s lives miserable is almost endless. And, anxiety and depression can lead to far worse than taking a few too many drinks of an evening ~ violence, mayhem, suicide, murder are among the really bad possibilities.
The reason I don’t Kill Myself is because I know I can. ~ Stanley Victor Paskavich.
Stanley Victor Paskavich ~ Genius by birth, bipolar, disabled Gulf War veteran, poet.
The other sad thing is that sometimes it’s impossible to remove the proximate cause of our troubles ~ we need that job, they are my children, she is my wife. It’s another Catch-22 situation, the job is killing me but I need the job to live.
The first step on the road to recovery is admitting we have a problem. This is where recovery begins to fail. Many of us are unwilling to admit that we have a problem. Some of us will go to an early grave because of liver failure, cardiovascular disease, malnutrition, pancreatitis, cancer, damage to the central nervous system, or an accident while drunk, still saying that I don’t have a drink problem. Some of us will stay in an abusive relationship because she loves me really. Some will say that cocaine isn’t addictive, or that the job isn’t so bad, really.
Some of us, (myself included), may be, or may have been, a High Functioning Alcoholic. Part of the insanity of alcoholism is that it will allow some people to go on working at the highest level, even while they are a complete lush. This is denial writ large. Denial is one of the main signs and symptoms of addiction, and denial can take many insidious forms.
And in my mind, this settles the issue. I would never drink cologne, and am therefore not an alcoholic. Augusten Burroughs.
Augusten Burroughs is the bestselling author of Dry and Running with Scissors.
The first step on the road to recovery from any serious problem is that illusions must be smashed, broken into bits. Sometimes this means we have to reach Rock Bottom, meaning that we have sunk as low, lower, than we could have ever believed possible. Trust me, however low one has sunk to reach what we think is rock bottom, if we don’t change our ways there is another rock bottom below the one we are on, and another filthier, dirtier, rock bottom below that.
I will not go into some of the horror stories I have heard from others, or what happened to me. I will tell you that if you imagine the worst possible thing you can think of happening to you, then rock bottom is infinitely worse in ways that you will not believe when they are shared with you.
Eventually, if one doesn’t die first, we will be prepared to admit that we have a problem, that we are powerless, that our lives are unmanageable. This is where another set of serious problems beset us. We say the words, but we don’t believe them. We say the words and we use self deception to ensure that we don’t really believe them. We say the words and believe them in our head, but we don’t believe them in the depths of our soul and spirit. This is where we need to begin to discover our road to spirituality.
Spirituality requires an acceptance of reality, a dedication to absolute truth, a real determination to find one’s own path to psychological transformation and spiritual growth. Spirituality is not religion, spirituality requires no God, although some of us find the concept of a ‘higher power’ both useful and comforting. Spirituality requires that we believe in the power to change ourselves from within.
If we admit that we are powerless ~ that our lives are unmanageable, we need to believe that with the same certainty that we believe in Gravity. We need to believe that our lives are out of control with the same conviction we hold in the fact that night follows day, and that the sun always rises in the east. (Anyone having a smart thought about when the sun doesn’t actually rise in the east needs to learn the meaning of humility.)
The final wisdom of life requires not the annulment of incongruity, but the achievement of serenity and spirituality within and above it. ~ Reinhold Niebuhr
Karl Paul Reinhold Niebuhr ~ theologian, ethicist, public intellectual, professor at Union Theological Seminary.
If we are capable, this is when we need to begin some of the simple routines which will help us on the road to spirituality and serenity. The easiest and most practical of these is to go for a longish walk, every single day, rain or shine. By longish I mean for an hour or more ~ distance doesn’t matter, and if you are not feeling so well, then don’t try and walk too quickly.
The next thing to do is to try and eat some decent food.
There are some other suggestions in this JackCollier7.com blog which you should find helpful.