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Step Study - Step 1

Old 04-08-2008, 01:33 PM
  # 21 (permalink)  
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Wow - this is exciting. I have been reading Melody Beatie's 12 Steps for Co-Dependants. I got to Step 5 thinking I was doing good and realized I was in over my head had done nothing but read so I'm back to Step 1. The timing of this thread is perfect!

I am getting better. If nothing else, when I feel the most powerless, I go find somewhere to get on my knees, put my face down and pray that I can let whatever it is go and go on with my day, not letting whatever it is effect me like it used to. Before anyone could ruin my day and I was always a victim. Not anymore. I haven't perfected this but I am practicing letting God hold the reigns to my life.

I'm so glad you're doing this. Reading everyone's experience with this step is really going to get me deeper into the step.
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Old 04-08-2008, 09:24 PM
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At first, I thought I had step one down pat...a real no brainer

Of course I am powerless....look at this mess!
I never would have orchestrated this chaos

but then I realized I had no clue what being powerless meant....
it didn't mean taking back the power and fixing everything (as i first assumed)

I still work hard on accepting that things are the way they are
slowly I'm learning that i can only control my own inner self....

I am powerless to change or rearrange the situation but I can decide how it affects me
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Old 04-08-2008, 10:06 PM
  # 23 (permalink)  
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((( rita )))

Doggone it... Anonymity is the Spiritual Foundation of all of these principles. We are supposed to be SAFE at our meetings.

And yet, stuff happens, and our anonymity becomes exposed from time to time. GOSH what a lesson in powerlessness. My angel sponsor taught me some great lessons, not the least of which is powerlessness vs helplessness. Perhaps, for now, you might have to keep your more intimate and detailed sharing to specific people in the program whom you know you can trust.

Keep in mind, your HP has your back every step of the way.

BIG hugs
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Old 04-08-2008, 10:36 PM
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Thanks Cats for starting this and to all who have contributed so far. I must admit that the idea of being powerless over anything frightens me. It's hard to explain, but I guess I will just say that all my life I have prided myself on my ability to be in control.....in control of me, my emotions, my life. It started with my parents divorce when I was 11. My mom told me I had to be mature and responsible to help my little brother through it. I always took care of people; I always had 'control' of my own feelings. Even if I felt like crying, I'd put on a happy face, for others.

My son's father was abusive. I couldn't control his temper, but I could control the fact that no one found out about it. When my son got old enough to start noticing something was wrong, I left. I packed my bags on my birthday while he was at work and never looked back.

When there is arguing in my family or even at work, I try to be the "fix it" person and make everyone happy.

Then I met my husband, who I thought might take care of me for a change. And he did, til he started the relapsing. I have been working my butt off for so long to try to control his actions, his addiction, and the consequences of them. I take his bank card, check his phone records, take his keys, etc, etc, etc. And it never stops.

So, I have to say .....I AM TIRED OF TRYING TO BE IN CONTROL!!

I am powerless over his addiction. I am powerless over so many things.

How do I recognize that the alcoholic is an individual with habits, characteristics and ways of reacting to daily happenings that are different from mine?

This question really made me think. I have always tried to make him see things my way, to adopt my philosophy about things, hoping it would help him to handle stress better. Why can't he just shrug things off like me? Apparently, I need to better understand that he is his own person, not me.

A friend at work told me this the other day: its not the weight of the load, but how you carry it. I like that idea, but we all carry the 'weight' in our own ways.

Thanks...
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Old 04-09-2008, 11:02 PM
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Step 1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable.
I'm new to the board and new to these steps. I struggle with this. Last night, I woke up at 4am and my husband was not in bed. He works nights, gets home at 1am. Yet, if he's not in bed by a certain time, I think he's using. I think he's downstairs, hiding in the laundry room, using.

He used to stay up all night, then sleep for days at a time.

I got up. He was on the couch, watching television. I told him, "Please just tell me you are not using again."

We had an argument. He said he's not using and hasn't been for some time. He was crying at one point, telling me that he doesn't know how else to make me believe, but whatever it is, he'll do it. I've been doing this on and off for the last 6 months. I go through periods where I am ok, then I realize I'm not and I'm overwhelmed by distrust and suspicion. I start to search for signs of usage.

I was so worked up when I went downstairs that I was crying, begging him not to do it again, telling him that our marriage was hanging by a thread, that I couldn't go through another relapse. "Please love me and our baby more than you love it."

It's like I don't know how to give up that control. I don't want to be powerless to this. I want to own it and kick it and beat it up and make it do what I want it to do.

Yet, I can't. And because of that, I end up crying at 4am, telling him that I don't believe him.

But, I'll try to do this. I don't know exactly how and I feel silly for not even being able to get the first step right, but I know it all takes time.

Thank you for listening.
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Old 04-11-2008, 12:00 AM
  # 26 (permalink)  
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"It's like I don't know how to give up that control. I don't want to be powerless to this. I want to own it and kick it and beat it up and make it do what I want it to do."

Zombiewife,

That is so how I feel sometimes .... if only I was strong enough, I could fix things. I could stop him from using. I could make him better...if only he would listen to me, if only he would do what I tell him, if only he stop lying, if only he would go to meetings, if only.... For me, it just never seems to go the way I want.

It is strange you wrote the thing about you waking up and him not in bed because I had a similar experience today. I had a pretty good day at work and was getting ready to come home. My AH called and sounded funny. I have heard that tone in his voice before and the way he asks the same questions over and over. It usually means he is using. I got so tense so fast. I asked him if he was loaded. He swore he wasn't. I said, well, I will see when I get home and if you are you will wish you hadn't done it. In only that one minute, my entire day and state of mind changed. All the way home, I kept telling myself, if he is high, that's it, that's it. It turns out he wasn't using, but his nervous voice on the phone was a result of him not wanting to tell me he just spent $160 of our mortgage money on prescribed pills that insurance wouldn't cover. And to show how sick I am, I was so relieved about him not being on illegal drugs, that the money didn't bother me too much. Will those little "triggers" ever go away? How long does it take to start trusting again?

Thanks for sharing
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Old 04-11-2008, 07:40 AM
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Those triggers are terrible and they DO change your entire day. And I'll sit there and think, "why can't I own this? Why can't I CHOOSE to just be happy and not let this bother me? Why wasn't I born with a switch that goes ON and OFF for situations like this? Then I could just flip it and be happy."
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Old 04-15-2008, 12:20 PM
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I was with his councelor (last day of 6 weeks rehab) and had the same question about trust and control.

She said that it is ok to dis-trust as it is the addict who made us dis-trust in the first place (he should know that and I should not feel bad) and though he may perhaps really be in recovery it may take as long to re-trust as it took to dis-trust ...
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Old 06-09-2008, 07:12 AM
  # 29 (permalink)  
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When I get caught up in someone else's behavior, I now know it's an obvious signal for me to return to step 1. A big part of my work on this step has also been learning about and practicing Detachment.

There's a good section on detachment in, _How Al-Anon Works..._. On pg 84 it says, "Detachment is one of the most valuable techniques Al-Anon offers those of us who seek to reclaim ourselves. Simply put, detachment means to separate ourselves emotionally and spiritually from other people.
"If someone we love had the flu and cancelled plans with us, most of us would understand. We wouldn't take it personally or blame the person for being inconsiderate or weak. Instead, in our minds, we would probably separate the person from the illness, knowing that it was the illness, rather than our loved one, that caused the change of plans. This is detachment. And we can use it to see alcoholism in the same compassionate yet impersonal way...."

Although I've been in Al-Anon a long time (found it 18 years ago) and have had a sponsor over three years, I continue to learn new things, important insights about step 1 and all the others. Areas I need to work on continually come to light.

As I gain clarity and work closely with healthy Al-Anon friends, I begin to reclaim parts of my self I didn't realize I'd given away, parts I've lost and taken up my own destructive addictions to replace them in the meantime. Now I have my own addictions to erradicate in addition to changing old patterns.

Concentrated working of the steps with the assistance of others in the program to keep me on track is slowly but surely working a transformation within me. I am healthier each day because of it. ...
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Old 10-26-2008, 12:35 PM
  # 30 (permalink)  
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Okay, so I am working the steps again. Yes I've been through them before, so many times I can't remember. But I know that i need to do this more. Instead of focusing on my son, I need to focus on me. I am completely powerless, but I still try to manipulate, coerce, etc. Overt power plays are not my style. I like to do the passive aggressive crap that is somewhat harder to detect. This makes me all the more innocent when I get caught trying to tell people what to do.

As a teacher, I get paid to tell people what to do and how to do it and when to do it. So it comes quite naturally in my teacher DNA. Just for today, I will not try to contact my son, or call him, or take him cookies so that he remembers that he loves me. I will walk away, working on my own problems and situations, and let him come to me when he's ready. That may be a while and that is the hardest part for me. Not having the daily contact. But I have noticed that I have more serenity when I don't see or hear from him for several days. Today I am powerless over his addiction and over my need to control it. My scripture from church today says the same thing in a different way:"Be still and know that I am God."
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Old 10-26-2008, 01:22 PM
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Originally Posted by krhea75 View Post
As a teacher, I get paid to tell people what to do and how to do it and when to do it. So it comes quite naturally in my teacher DNA. Just for today, I will not try to contact my son, or call him, or take him cookies so that he remembers that he loves me..........................Today I am powerless over his addiction and over my need to control it.
Wow, thanks for bumping this up krhea. I shared almost the exact same thing at an alanon meeting a couple weeks ago.....(same DNA)....how hard it is to come home and just turn it off...the control part. It is a struggle, so maybe I haven't yet fully embraced this step.

I went back and read my old post and I vividly remember that day. I look at today and then......much has changed with me. For that I am thankful, grateful. Not much has changed with him, and with that I need to let go more I think.

I love that quote from your service. I have the serenity prayer on a sticker in my car and I read it and try to say it again and again everyday.

:ghug3
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Old 12-20-2008, 11:59 PM
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I left my ex AH and it only took him 2 days to start going out with another girl, another AH.
If I can detach from this fact and from the anxiety of knowing I will run to them anytime soon, hell!! I will be able to detach from anything and anyone!!
And to detach from my own idea of self value given the circumstances seems a rocky road as well.

So much to learn..
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Old 04-21-2009, 06:19 PM
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I can only love her, and when I stop to think about it, that is enough. How can somebody live with an addict?How can you just put up with her addiction?
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Old 04-22-2009, 05:42 AM
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Hi Katie.... Loving her is what you are there for. Loving you is what life is all about. To me that means you decide what you want for your life. You can't control what others are doing and can't necessarily control what is happening in your life ( I am still working on this thing... can you see it???) but you can decide how you are going to respond and what you will do to help you be the best you.

How do you live with an addict? It is hell. BUT... fortunately or unfortunately, we all find ways to deny and or put up with what is happening in our lives. However, remember, the choice to deny or put up with the behavior is ours. Set limits and decide what you want for you. It may mean leaving or it may mean staying, but it means that you are doing what you can to live your best life.
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Old 04-22-2009, 08:38 AM
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With step one I began to see that the parts of my life that are unmanageable and the people and situations that are not mine to manage.
This was a hard thing for me to realize. Because I've been in recovery for so many years, when it came to my teens and AH using years later, I tried to manage their unmanageable lives, therefore causing my life to become unmanageable. Between court detention, treatment, jails for daughter, more court jail and treatment for son. Then AH treatment, crack binges, pill popping, insanity, NA, CR, in a circle. It wasn't til I did all I could do, and I became insane, that I let go. Do I feel grief yes, I miss them all. But my daughter seems to be doing just fine without me, we talk. We wont have the relationship we did as she was growing up, but she is now an adult and I can talk to her on that level. Other son seems to be doing fine without me, he's learning to grow up, I havent heard hes in any more trouble. I will probably be able to talk with him in Aug. AH seems to be just fine without me, he can sneak out on crack binges without me knowing it, he can hide other women a lot easier. But the change in me is I don't tell him what to do or how to get better anymore. I don't have to give ultimatums anymore. I'm powerless over anything they do.

I am powerless over addiction of others, and my life has become unmanageable BIGTIME!!!

Now I'm working on (with HP's help), getting my life back into manageable order.
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Old 07-04-2009, 10:59 AM
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This is a very honest post for me and I'm not making fun of the steps. I'm just trying to find my way to them. I know in the end they are what I need and what I want. But I'm not going to lie. I'm so far away from getting better and I just want to be really really really honest how far away because if I lie to myself, I'm never going to get better.

So some of this might sound harsh and horrible, but I'm only at the beginning and if anyone can share how they dealt with some of this stuff then I'd love to hear about it. Maybe it will give me hope that I CAN do this.


Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol ~ that our lives had become unmanageable.

So I read this and thought, DUH, I can do this step in no time. Of course my life is unmanageable. It SUCKS. And powerless over the drugs? Totally. Know why? Because I didn't bring them into the family. SHE did. My mother is an idiot and became an addict and screwed everything up.

Apparently this is not what step 1 is about because then I read the questions posed and now I'm a bit put in my place because I have no clue how to do step 1.


Do I accept that I cannot control another person’s drinking? Another person’s behavior?

No, because she should have loved me enough to not do this stuff when I was a kid. And I want to make rules so she knows the consequences and I want control. I want to be the one who takes things away from her in punishment and gives her things in reward and I want to call the shots! *sigh* So first question shows me I have a VERY long way to go.

How do I recognize that the alcoholic is an individual with habits, characteristics and ways of reacting to daily happenings that are different from mine?

I don't even understand this question so I'm really in trouble. I mean... I know that she's different from me because she's WRONG most of the time.

Do I accept that alcoholism is a disease? How does that change how I deal with a drinker?

Nope. No no no no no. This is the biggest issue I have with this stuff. I'm not letting her off the hook by saying it's a disease. It's not cancer. It's diabetes maybe, but not cancer. She's an addict. Things are worse for her than others. Meetings are her insulin and drugs are her candy. She may have the disease, but she chose not to take her insulin and scarf down a box of chocolates. Her diabetic coma or shock or whatever is HER fault.

And yeah, the addiction is there now, but she wasn't addicted to anything the first time she stuck that needle in her arm. What was that? Was that a disease? No, that was a choice.


How have I tried to change others in my life? What were the consequences?

This one is pretty clear to me. I'm manipulative. I've tried to change my mom and obviously we're in a much better place now *end sarcasm*

I use guilt a lot.


What means have I used to get what I want and need? What might work better to get my needs met?

I use guilt trips and ultimatums a lot. I've had more luck with honesty.

How do I feel when the alcoholic refuses to be and do what I want? How do I respond?

I used to get really ticked off and demand answers. Today and yesterday I have changed my responses from yelling to just not caring. It's her life. I'm tired of having my life react to what she's doing. They're separate and should have been that way a long time ago.

What would happen if I stopped trying to change the alcoholic or anyone else?

I've tried this and I'm already happier and calmer. I always feel that itch to interfere, but I'm trying.

How can I let go of others’ problems instead of trying to solve them?

Right now I'm trying to determine how those problems affect me. If they don't, then I don't need to do a thing. The only problem I have with this one is like, with my mom, she could lose her house and all. I don't know if I could handle the guilt of knowing I could have prevented it by staying here with her and didn't.

Am I looking for a quick fix to my problems? Is there one?

YES! I want to fix it right now! I want a checklist and then I want everything to be all hunky dory. Is there one?.... I'm guessing that's a trick question and there's not so that's why I'm dealing with this one step and probably will for a very very very long time.

In what situations do I feel excessive responsibility for other people?

Almost any situation. Work, home.... I have to fix everything. Nothing ever gets finished or done right unless I'm supervising it. And I worry a lot so it's easier if I just know everything going on around me.

In what situations do I feel shame or embarrassment for someone else’s behavior?

Any situation which does anything to show my family is not the family I want and pretend to have.

What brought me to Al-Anon? What did I hope to gain at that time? How have my expectations changed?

Originally, my mom told me to go to Al-anon because she said she could not deal with my anger. She told me they could help me so I wouldn't have anger toward her anymore and that she needed me to not be angry with her anymore because she couldn't handle it.

So I went and I hated the first meeting because I was the daughter of the local infamous 15-minutes-of-fame criminal all over the news so I switched to a bigger meeting where nobody knew me. I just wanted someone to understand.

Now I don't go. Nobody can help me and I'm tired of hearing how together everyone is. I'm NOT together. I don't even know where all the pieces are to PUT me together right now.


Who has expressed concern about my behavior? My health? My children? Give examples.

My husband and kids are worried about my depression. So are my friends. I'm the one worried about my health, but that has more to do with work stress. I had a cancer scare not long ago. It was great. My mom actually appeared concerned. But I finally had her attention and realized I didn't want it. I actually didn't want her by my side at all even though all these years all I did was whine about wanting a mom.

Lots of people tell me I should leave this place for the sake of my children because they deserve a happy mom and they deserve not to be screwed up by her the way that I was. I'm not sure if that's really what the kids need, though. I think there's more to it as to why they shouldn't be exposed to her all the time. I think maybe they don't need to be exposed to the relationship I have with my mom, more than just my mom.


How do I know when my life is unmanageable?

I've had some thoughts I shouldn't lately. Enough is enough. Something has to change. I just have to figure out how that happens.

How have I sought approval and affirmation from others?

I do this all the time. I bait people for compliments mostly. I keep talking about all these plans to see if any of them gets the nod of admiration from anyone. If someone is impressed, it's a go.

Do I say “yes” when I want to say “no”? What happens to my ability to manage my life when I do this?

ALL THE TIME! Wow, that's me to a tee. My life goes all sorts of crazy and I hate when I get more on my plate because I say I'll do stuff just so people will continue to like me.

Do I take care of others easily, but find it difficult to care for myself?
How do I feel when life is going smoothly? Do I continually anticipate problems? Do I feel more alive in the midst of a crisis?

Yes to the first question. When life is going smoothly, I am out of my element. My husband asked me one time why I couldn't just be happy and I told him that the bottom always falls out of life so that it's dumb to let your guard down.

My husband also tries to get me to be positive about the future and he wants to know why I can't believe in it and I tell him I can't listen to him tell me it will work out and that I need to know HOW it will work out. I want details, not big grand promises that nobody can keep.

When bad times hit, I'm the one who comes out of hiding to take over and keep everything going. Most of the time I lose myself in my writing or in television or whatever. Bad times bring me back to life because if I didn't step up, nobody would.


How well do I take care of myself?

I've gained a lot of weight since this started up AGAIN with her last relapse. I don't dress well and I don't wear makeup. Sometimes I eat and sometimes I don't. I don't get any sleep. Basically, I'm doing a crap job at keeping myself okay.

How do I feel when I am alone?

OMG, it's like heaven. I love my alone time. I don't like it for a very long time, but I always feel so free when nobody is around.

What is the difference between pity and love?

I don't know. Maybe pity is more about obligation and love is mutually beneficial?

Am I attracted to alcoholics and other people who seem to need me to fix them? How have I tried to fix them?

Yeah, probably. I don't know how I fix them. I just tell them what to do and then hold my expectations over them. And then there's the guilt. I'm really good with guilt. I can twist things, too, but not as well as some. Mostly, I just hide a lot from people until they do the things I think they should.

Do I trust my own feelings? Do I know what they are?

I don't trust them at all. I have no idea half the time if I am really sure about what I feel. Sometimes I think I'm still trying to impress people, but I can't tell the difference anymore. But my HP knows and I'm trying to work on that aspect of my life, too, as a way to get some sort of clarity.




So that's it. Those are my answers. I have a long way to go and I don't know how to get there.

There are 12 of these things? At this point, I don't think life is long enough to even make it to Step 2....
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Old 10-15-2009, 03:05 PM
  # 37 (permalink)  
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I am six weeks into recovery from my addiction to my addict/alcoholic husband.

I am working diligently on step one. I have to constantly remind myself that I have no control over the addict or his addiction.

It is hard. I want to make him do what I want. I want to wave my wand and blame and yell and make him feel miserable.

But he already feels miserable. He's an addict. He's lost his family and home.

I can't make him come home. I can't make him care. I can't make him act with love.

I can make sure that he knows his family loves him, which for us means that the door is open when he decides to get clean.
Our arms are always open with compassion to him, but he has to take his own first step towards recovery. Our arms are not open for him to place his addiction in them.

I can keep my hands off his addiction and mind my own business.

I can work only MY OWN recovery.

Everyday, several times a day I have to keep shouting internally to myself:
I HAVE NO CONTROL OVER MY ADDICT. I HAVE NO CONTROL! NO CONTROL OVER HIM!
HE BELONGS TO GOD. They have to work this out.

I only can control my ATTITUDE and actions.

Thank you for starting this step study. Thanks for everyone sharing. I feel just like I have been to a f2f meeting. I will keep coming back!
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Old 01-02-2011, 08:25 PM
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I answered all these questions for Step I last week. After reading these post (again), I am beginning to realize that I have a long way to go too. I've been living like this for over 30 yrs and I need to be gentle with myself in knowing it's not a quick-fix. I constantly have to "check-in" with my own feelings and not answer these questions like I think I should.
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crazybabie (10-26-2012)
Old 01-03-2011, 09:49 AM
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hope2be,

Thanks for getting this bumped up . . . new month, new year . . . a great time for me to get back to the basics!

Reading through the older posts I saw step 1 in a way I hadn't before. I can admit that I am powerless over my son and his struggle with recovery from substance addiction, I can admit that I am powerless over so many things in my life, my daughter and her life, my siblings, my coworkers, etc.

But I hadn't realized that my inability to open my mail, put my clean clothes away, keep my apartment clean, etc. were signs that my life is still unmanageable. I have work to do on myself to understand why I'm hiding my head in the sand, so to speak. I sabotage myself by staying up too late and being tired all day. I spend hours playing computer solitaire when my apt. needs a good cleaning, etc. What's up with that?

Begin at the beginning
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crazybabie (10-26-2012)
Old 01-25-2011, 04:07 AM
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I've given myself a month to do Step 1. However, after reconsidering, I'm giving myself the luxury of staying in it as long as I have to.
JMFburns...thanks for bringing to mind that not only am I powerless over my AC, but also co-workers, adult siblings, etc.
I'm emersing myself in reading, reading, reading everything I can about codependency issues. I'm also journaling on an almost daily schedule. I need to do that just to check-in with myself to sort out all the emotions/feeling I go through everyday. I'm learning it's all so distorted! Unmanageable???...hell, yes! Powerless over people...I'm working on it.
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