I Am Powerless Over
I hated the word P0werless >>
I had struggled mightily to gain control of my life, and to a large part I had succeeded. In my world, I was a very powerful person. I just couldn’t quit drinking and using.
They said I had to SURRENDER.
Not likely. I would never surrender to anyone or anything. Then they said I already had.
I had surrendered my life to my using.
I am not just powerless over my addiction, I am powerless over LIFE itself.
How’s that, you say?
I am powerless over my ex-wife, over her lawyer, and the judge. I am powerless over the IRS. And I have very little control over my own body. I can’t control my thyroid, my nerves, or at times, even my bowels.
The only thing in this life that I do have control over are my thoughts.
I CAN CONTROL THE THOUGHTS IN MY HEAD.
This may be the single most important lesson in recovery.
Dr. Taylor, the director of rehab, called a special afternoon session to discuss the concept of powerlessness.
“I can remember when I recognized my own powerlessness,” he began. “I was so deep in denial, I couldn’t see that my disease had taken complete control of my life.
I began each day with an eye-opener. Lunch was always a two-martini affair. I would leave the office early to be home before the sun was over the yardarm.
Wine with dinner became good social graces, and I single-handedly invented the custom of the double nightcap. Yet I didn’t have a drinking problem, not even when I was flagged for three DUIs inside a month, and the judge, my good golfing buddy, took away my driver’s license.
“Only when I began having blackouts >>
did I begin to understand the true depth of my powerlessness. One day I awoke from such a blackout to find myself in the operating room, standing over the open abdomen of a patient I did not know, doing I knew not what. I asked my assistant to finish the case and ran to the scrub room where I threw up and started to cry.
I had to come close to killing somebody before I realized how sick I was.
My partner intervened on me later that day and took me to my first AA meeting.
“I want you to go back to your apartments now for a special AA meeting, and I want you to discuss the concept of powerlessness. I want you to preface every sharing with the words….
“I was so powerless over my drug that I __________.”
….and fill in the blank with concrete examples that demonstrates just how your addiction controlled your life.
Rest assured that you will make no headway with this program until you are absolutely convinced of your powerlessness in the face of drink and drug.”
Andrew, a cardiologist from West Virginia, was telling his story in men’s group.
“I was so powerless over my disease that I abandoned my profession,” he said, head down. “I got a call at about 3 a.m. from the hospital.
My usual practice was to see each new admission whenever they hit the ER, no matter what time it was. I couldn’t conscience prescribing therapy for someone I hadn’t personally examined.
But that night I was blisteringly high on pot, wine, and coke and was bedding two nurses at the same time. It was incredible. And I wasn’t about to let anything interfere with my fun. The ER physician was very enabling. No need for you to come in at this hour, he said. I’ll write a set of holding orders for Mr. Sams until you see him in the morning.
“I hung up and immediately forgot about Mr. Sams and his heart attack. Just before dawn, my debauchery was interrupted by another phone call. A nurse on the Cardiac Unit was calling with an update.
Mr. Sams’ condition was deteriorating. I said as little as possible to hide my slurred speech. The family is here and would like to speak to you, she said. I nodded through the telephone but hung up anyway. Back to bed, whispered my little blonde hussy.
"Two hours later the phone rang again. Mr. Sams died a few minutes ago, said the nurse. I took a deep breath but said nothing recognizable. He was pretty far gone when he got here, she said. There wasn’t much you could have done. The family has already gone home.
“By the time my head hit the pillow, I had again forgotten all about Mr. Sams and his heart. That morning I called the office. I had a really rough night at the hospital, I told them. Reschedule all my appointments for today, will ya?”