What makes more sense than a post about power when the title is Recovering From Powerlessness? I don’t know, but I am making this one a series since there are a number of things that we can give our power away to. But there are two main categories in my mind.
1. Addiction to Substances.
2. Addiction to people, and power (the bad kind, in all of us there is a little wannabe dictator).
Before I go on I would like to point out the fact that I talk mostly about alcohol because that is what I struggled with the most. I did drugs, but I managed to stop those when they were no longer fun. I like to say, I am an alcoholic who is powerless over drugs. Given sufficient reason I was able to stop doing drugs, that was never the case with alcohol. So if your reading and you are presently struggling with drug addiction or food addiction, just know that I’m not writing from the AA perspective. It is all the same thing.
In my experience in recovery, I had to take my power back from substances before I could look at any other problems in my life. So how does one do that? The first step is… stopping. Personally, I didn’t just wake up one day and say “Alcohol is running my life and I’m never going to drink again”. Well, maybe I did a few times, but most likely I drank the same day! I drank, and drank until I came to a place where I knew that I was going to die if I continued. Up until that point I had numerous people tell me that was going to happen. But if you are familiar with the mind of an addict, you know that no matter what people tell us we are not done until we are done. This first step is about surrender. It looks different for everybody. Some people lose a job and the surrender and never pick up again, some people have to do prison sentences, etc., etc. Whatever it is, it doesn’t matter. I can’t tell anybody how to stop, personally I think we have to get to that point on our own terms. ( If you are going to get off alcohol and your drinking has been pretty severe, you should go to detox, I know from experience that trying to detox on your own can be fatal.) But what I can share is how I have stayed stopped for the last few years.
Once you have stopped using or drinking, you have already gained some of your power back. Congratulations! Hopefully you weren’t too badly beaten up. After this point some people are able to hang on for awhile or maybe years without doing any kind of personal work. But from what I have heard from many people who have tried to stay stopped this way, they were a mess, miserable and everyone who came into contact with them were miserable too. From my experience I always thought that once I quit, I would go back to being the same loving character I once was. This didn’t happen when I tried to stop drinking (without taking a spiritual approach), I was a bitch. I was angry, I only got along with the people who acted the way I thought they should. Addicts can only live like this for so long before we dive back into our drugs of choice, for me a couple of months.
What was different the last time, you ask? Well, I got really involved in a 12 step program, which I had tried before. What made the difference was the woman I chose to work with. She was with a man who got loaded all the time and she was sober. I learned many, many things from her, but the most important thing she told me in early sobriety is to just focus on what is right in front of you. Stay in the moment and stop obsessing over the past and the future. So that would be my suggestion… If you have stopped drinking or using and you just don’t know what to do with yourself, or you are carrying shame and resentment and you don’t know how you are going to get back on your feet. Look at your feet, this is where you are right now. You can’t change the past, but after you have your head straight you can try to make it right. The more you try to control what happens in the future the more stressed you will be, stress leads to substance abuse for us. Oh and one last thing. I have found it very important to resist the urge to go out and make apologies to everyone. In early sobriety, we are still running on ego and ulterior motives. It is important to know why you are ‘making amends’ and you have to be ready to stop the behavior that you are making amends for.
One of my intentions when starting this blog was to build a community of like minded people. So please leave feedback! I would love to hear from you guys. Negative comments will be ignored though.
Next time we will focus on how to continue to take your power back after you have done the hard work of putting down the substances and detoxing.