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Old 02-20-2008, 03:49 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Powerless vs Choice??


New here. Overwhelmed at the positives, wisdom, and support I've been granted in just a few days. I need it.

A member and I were exchanging private messages when he rather set me back on my heels.

I was rambling to him as to how guilty I felt. That every time I drank a beer it was a conscious choice and every time I made the wrong one. I told him that, in some ways, I wish I had dt's, shakes, etc, and other deathly aspects of withdrawal. For, that would validate my powerlessness. I'm suffering none of that (day 5), and miss the "ritual" more than alcohol. Besides ritual, I used to medicate significant emotional pain and guilt. Much of which, ironically, was (is) exacerbated by freakin' alcohol!

He wrote back and posed a dilemma that remains: If you had a choice when you drank, why are you here? If you had a choice, why did you consistently make the wrong one? And what makes you think you will now make the right one in perpetuity?

Hmmm. Then I got to thinking about the first step (where I am, presently). Is this why it is my second time around? That, in typical male fashion, I fail to recognize when I'm powerless? WTF?

No one put a gun to my head. I did begin to think of that first cool sip 1/2 hour before the end of work, however. Why do I feel that admitting that I am powerless is letting myself off the moral hook? Did I not have free will before I turned the key in the ignition?

I don't know why I am stuck on this issue. I sure don't expect anyone to have the answer to my dilemma. Why not just say I'm powerless and get on with it? Am I just scared to say I need Viagra for the soul?

If anyone else has struggled with this, male or female, how did you resolve it? What gave you insight?

My need to resolve this is the result of the enormous amount of guilt I have heaped on myself. For doing the wrong thing, time after time. If I simply admit that I am powerless, isn't that like getting off the train one stop before Ownership Avenue?

If you think this whole internal debate is ridiculous, fire away.

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Old 02-20-2008, 04:11 PM   #2 (permalink)
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my .02 (and I'm not an AAer btw)
of course we had a choice.
No-one *needs* to drink...it's a choice.
It was our choice, our responsibility.

But it's a choice informed and affected by an addiction -
once I make that choice, to have that first one, for whatever BS reason I rationalise,
I'm powerless to stop.

D
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Old 02-20-2008, 04:25 PM   #3 (permalink)
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warrens, I'm with D on this

We always had a choice and as you said, you kept making the wrong one...as did I...but that does not mean you are powerless.

When we alcoholics wake up sick and hung over the morning after, and ask, "What happened?", the answer is simple. We took a drink and rationalized that it would be okay. That isn't "powerlessness".

We are not powerless over urges, cravings, or temptations.
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Old 02-20-2008, 04:34 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I became powerless over my actions
after one drink

My remorse and guilt were vanquished
with Steps 4 and 5.

An excelent reason to do step work.

Blessings to you and your lady
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Old 02-20-2008, 04:48 PM   #5 (permalink)
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warrens, I'm with D on this

We always had a choice and as you said, you kept making the wrong one...as did I...but that does not mean you are powerless.

When we alcoholics wake up sick and hung over the morning after, and ask, "What happened?", the answer is simple. We took a drink and rationalized that it would be okay. That isn't "powerlessness".

We are not powerless over urges, cravings, or temptations.

Bugs, why do you always assume that what's true for you is true for evey one when it comes to alcoholism. You said "we" had a choice. You may have, but this fellow may not. I've seen alcoholics die behind that delusion of having choice. Remember what I said on another thread about allowing a man the dignity of diagnosing himself?

Last edited by jimhere; 02-20-2008 at 05:08 PM.
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Old 02-20-2008, 04:55 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I said that too Jim.
Warrens asked for opinions - I gave mine

D
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Old 02-20-2008, 04:56 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I'm with Carol on this topic.

At some point, I did have a choice and I chose to drink. But, at some point, I no longer had a choice. My husband once asked me if I couldn't or wouldn't stop drinking and the question made me pause. It was some of both.

I am not an AA person either, but I 'knew' in my soul that I was powerless over alcohol and I felt a huge amount of freedom, when I stopped drinking. My attempts to control my drinking over a period of a few years, had been dismal and exhausting and I was glad to step out of the cycle.
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Old 02-20-2008, 04:58 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Warrens, I may be way off base with this, but I don't think being powerless over alcohol means that you are letting yourself off the "moral hook" or not owning your choices.

I did make millions of wrong choices to drink. But those choices were influenced by my addictive personality. Admitting that I was powerless over alcohol meant to me that I wouldn't be able to stop drinking until I changed something in myself. If you do have the choice to drink, and you want to stop, own that you made the bad choices and admit that you need to change, that you are powerless over alcohol as you are now. Then get whatever help you need...SR, AA, etc.

Good luck. And like Carol said, if you are working the steps, you don't need to solve all the guilt issues on step one...relief in that department will come shortly.
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Old 02-20-2008, 05:06 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I said that too Jim.
Warrens asked for opinions - I gave mine

D
I saw that Dee. You were speaking about your self, which may be your experience. Bugs generalized with a "we" statement. Difference between opinion and experience.

If we really want to help people, why don't WE (including me) stick to experience. Lives are at stake, whether each and every one of you believes that be personally true or not.
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Old 02-20-2008, 05:20 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Can we please get this thread back on track and answering Warrens question?

Let's put the personal squabbles aside.
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Old 02-20-2008, 05:25 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Maybe I'll ask a question. Warren did you ever drink when you didn't want to? When you had every reason not to? You don't need to answer this question to me or to anyone else on a public forum. Just be honest with yourself and examine your own experience.

The people that have really helped my recovery asked me questions when I had a question. They helped me find the answer within myself rather than telling me what my answer should be. It is called dignity.
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Old 02-20-2008, 06:44 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Maybe I'll ask a question. Warren did you ever drink when you didn't want to? When you had every reason not to? You don't need to answer this question to me or to anyone else on a public forum. Just be honest with yourself and examine your own experience.

The people that have really helped my recovery asked me questions when I had a question. They helped me find the answer within myself rather than telling me what my answer should be. It is called dignity.
Jim
Boy, I didn't mean to launch a disagreement. I'm in a moral dilemma that is of significance to me. Perhaps it's "paralysis by analysis." I've hurt a lot of people and I'm carrying more than a knapsack full of guilt.

Jimhere, I'm not sure how to answer that question. I don't think I ever drank when I didn't want to. I enjoyed my beer! But I sure did drink when I shouldn't have. Both in a legal and practical sense. Inappropriate amounts at inappropriate times.

At none of these times would it have caused me grave physical discomfort to abstain. But I drank anyway. Selfish and stupid. Thus, my moral dilemma. Whose hand was on the tiller? Does beer kill people or do we kill ourselves.

Some have said "Warren, cut the crap, dump your guilt, and reach into your heart for a change." Oh, but if I could. Maybe in time, but right now I am trying to figure out my approach to the first step and I'm stuck on admitting that I am powerless. A huge part of me just wants to yell "Yes, yes, let's get this bus rolling!" And then there is my moral center saying "Warren, you know you had a choice."

I love money, but if you left a bulging wallet in a restaurant, you'd get it back from me intact. I love sex but I've never taken it when it wasn't reciprocal. Even the thought of paying for it makes me shake my head. Ugh.

So, why does my moral center fail me when it comes to beer? Perhaps I've just answered my question, in part. There must be something different when a man guided by morality fails so miserably. Now that I am forced to think of it, after that first beer I AM powerless. It is then that I drink "when I don't really want to." Hmmm. And that is the difference between me and them (normal). I am not powerless to drink, I am powerless when I do drink!

Anyone else have Aha! moments while writing on this site? Perhaps a topic in itself...

I still appreciate your feedback, but y'all being there has helped me enormously. The elk in my field just don't understand what I'm telling them. So I don't have much of an audience. Thank you!

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Old 02-20-2008, 06:52 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Warren, I have to say what a great share!

I think that you can listen to your moral center and reach into your heart for a change. They don't have to be mutually exclusive. I believe that is what recovey truly is. You said it so innocently yet it's impact is profound.

Thank You for your post! An Aha moment!
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Old 02-20-2008, 06:57 PM   #14 (permalink)
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I don't know if you are an alcoholic or not Warren. Only you can answer that. If you are, it is not a question of morality. You don't seem to be an immoral person that doesn't know the difference between right and wrong or true and false. Alcoholism isn't about right or wrong, but does it work?

Having said that, perhaps you are not alcoholic. Try leaving your beer alone for a while and see how that goes. You've already answered the question about controling drinking when you are drinking. Try controlling it when you're not drinking.
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Old 02-20-2008, 07:10 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I don't know if you are an alcoholic or not Warren. Only you can answer that. If you are, it is not a question of morality. You don't seem to be an immoral person that doesn't know the difference between right and wrong or true and false. Alcoholism isn't about right or wrong, but does it work?

Having said that, perhaps you are not alcoholic. Try leaving your beer alone for a while and see how that goes. You've already answered the question about controling drinking when you are drinking. Try controlling it when you're not drinking.
Jimhere, I've no doubt this time that I'm an alcoholic. I didn't come here to figure that out, I'm here to deal with it. I'm five days into a lifetime without. That's my approach. I "negotiated" my way into social drinking after several years without, and here I am. That train has left the station.

In an attempt to approach the first step, I am simply trying to deal with the guilt vs personal responsibility. My morality doesn't come from religion, I don't understand that. It comes from within. I just want to figure out how a moral person can wreak so much havoc on himself and others and basically live a lie. It ain't easy to accept. But I guess that is down the road.

I am through negotiating with myself, however. I ALWAYS freaking lose! And I am sick and tired of losing, even if I am a Cubs fan of 50+ years...

Thank You

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Old 02-20-2008, 07:19 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I just want to figure out how a moral person can wreak so much havoc on himself and others and basically live a lie. It ain't easy to accept. But I guess that is down the road.
I was a master at rationalisation - I was tired, I was stressed, I deserved to unwind, I couldn't sleep, I needed to feel creative, I wanted to be sociable...and any other of literally 100s of excuses.

bottom line - I'm an addict - I wanted the 'buzz' - and often let that desire override common sense....and, sometimes, yes - morality. I'm not a saint. Only one man was perfect, IMO and not Him

My atonement is to live right today, and to help others.

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Old 02-20-2008, 07:20 PM   #17 (permalink)
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warren...

thats why its called...

alcoholism, not alcoholwasm...

waren, slow down... ya gunna make your self coo-coo

warren
Quote:
I just want to figure out how a moral person can wreak so much havoc on himself and others and basically live a lie. It ain't easy to accept. But I guess that is down the road.
perhaps, we alcoholics aren't as moral as we thought?

more will be revealed!

you can do it warren...

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Old 02-20-2008, 07:21 PM   #18 (permalink)
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My response to your question may appear long but I believe that if you read it you will find the answer as "the answer is in the book."

I have highlighted in red a section that it sounds like you are having the most question about. Hope this helps.

Big Book on Step One
________________________________________
Hank P. admitted defeat xxix:6
Quote:
He frankly admitted and believed that for him there was no hope.
This man took his first step. The admission to ourselves that we are beaten, that the resources we have at our disposal are not going to save us, that unless we find a solution we will die, is a necessary first step in recovery. This admission is an essential precondition to recovery. This is a vital part of the solution to our problem.

Fitz M. made his own diagnosis xxix:16
Quote:
The patient had made his own diagnosis, and deciding his situation hopeless, had hidden in a deserted barn determined to die.
Once again the first step in recovery is illustrated. We must make our own diagnosis of our condition. Are we alcoholic? Can we cure ourselves?
The authors have no intention of pronouncing us alcoholic. If we are alcoholic, perhaps we can see some similarity with ourselves in the doctor’s description of alcoholism.

Bill W admits defeat 8:9-11
Quote:
I had met my match. I had been overwhelmed. Alcohol was my master.
Bill, by admitting to himself his powerlessness, takes his first step. Perhaps we feel as hopeless as Bill. Are we able to control our drinking once we start? Are we unable to quit drinking despite our sincere desire to do so? How have the things we have tried to overcome drinking worked for us? Can we admit that alcohol is more powerful than we are? If we can, then we have taken the first step toward recovery.

Bill W feels hopeless 10:3
Quote:
I had to be, for I was hopeless.
For many of us the willingness to begin this program was produced by our realization of the hopelessness of our situation. We had nowhere else to turn. The program was presented to us by people for whom it had worked. Nothing else has worked for us so we grab hold of these principles as we do for life itself.

Ebby T had admitted complete defeat 11:12-16
Quote:
Like myself, he had admitted complete defeat. Then he had, in effect, been raised from the dead, suddenly taken from the scrap heap to a level of life better than the best he had ever known.
Had this power originated in him? Obviously it had not. There had been no more power in him than there was in me at that minute; and this was none at all.
The seeming hopelessness of alcoholism has been recognized for thousands of years. Prior to the advent of Alcoholics Anonymous most of those afflicted with alcoholism lost their minds or died. For over 60 years, millions of alcoholics have found relief through the application of the spiritual principles described in this book. This vast amount of experience is one very good reason for us to stop aruguing and explore for ourselves this new way of life.


Bill W admitted his need for God 13:7
Quote:
I admitted for the first time that of myself I was nothing; that without Him I was lost.
Bill learned of the physical component of alcoholism from Dr. Silkworth. He knew that when he drank he was unable to stop. All medical science could suggest to him was entire abstinence. Knowing through his own experience that it was impossible for him to remain abstinent, Bill felt that he was hopeless. Bill was presented with the solution to his alcoholism by Ebby T., an old school friend. Ebby showed Bill a program of action used by the Oxford Group. Bill describes the ideas and attitudes he adopted and the techniques he began to practice. The result was a deep and effective spiritual experience allowing Bill access to a Power sufficient to overcome his alcoholism.


Hopeless and futile 25:5
Quote:
But we saw that it really worked in others and we had come to believe in the hopelessness and futility of life as we had been living it.
Here are millions of people who say that this new way of life is better than anything they have ever tried. If we really are powerless over alcohol, if our lives really are unmanageable, if we really are beyond human aid, what then do we have to lose? This solution is being offered to us, not forced upon us. We can pick up these tools and begin to use them to reconstruct our shattered lives.

directions for taking first step 30:7-8
Quote:
We learned that we had to fully concede to our innermost selves that we were alcoholics. This is the first step in recovery. .
There are several ways we learn that we must admit powerlessness over alcohol. We learn by reading the book up to this point and by the example of the authors as well as millions of recovered alcoholics. Sometimes we learn by our own mistakes. Repeated failed attempts to control our drinking brings to ourselves that we are powerless over alcohol.

To fully concede is to admit that we are alcoholic. Any reservations we have must be set aside. This is not merely complying with the precepts of this program so as to avoid the negative results of drinking, but a complete and total surrender to the fact that we can not drink any alcohol at all and we never will be able to drink alcohol normally.

Who are we to admit our alcoholism to ---our group, the police, our spouse? We are to make our admission to ourselves. No one else matters. We must speak to our hearts when making this admission.

These are the directions on how to take our first step. The author’s promise was that they would show us precisely and specifically what they have done to recover and supply us with clear-cut directions. The directions are that we must admit we are, in fact, alcoholic and that we make this admission to ourselves. From the moment we make the admission, we can begin to recover
.


we admitted we were powerless 59:8
Quote:
We admitted we were powerless over alcohol----that our lives had become unmanageable.
Here the program of action is laid out for us to examine. If we have taken the first two steps toward recovery, we can now decide whether we want to continue. To go on as we have been, or to accept a way of life based on the conscious awareness of the existence of God, what is our choice to be?


we draw our own conclusion 92:11
Quote:
Let him draw his own conclusion.
Once a pickle, always a pickle. There is no return to normal drinking for a person who has begun to experience the phenomenon of craving. Examining “Bill’s Story” will help prepare us to relate some of our failed attempts to overcome drinking through willpower, self knowledge, firm resolve etc. Once we acquire an alcoholic mind there is little hope of recovery through human power (24:15). Left to our own resources we undoubtedly will return to drinking.

we decide for ourselves 95:15
Quote:
After doing that, he must decide for himself whether he wants to go on.
Our willingness is a result of our admission of powerlessness. If we still believe that we possess the power to control our drinking consumption, if we still believe that we can successfully manage our own lives, we will not be wiling to turn our will and our lives over to God. If we are willing we will voluntary do the things that are required to recover.
If we are pressured we may submit to the fact that we cannot drink. Submission is not surrender. Submission does not lead to recovery.


Dr Bob admitted powerlessness 155:6
Quote:
When our friend related his experience, the man agreed that no amount of willpower he might muster could stop his drinking for long.
yes, that's me 157:19
Quote:
“Yes, that’s me,” said the sick man, “the very image. You fellows know your stuff all right, but I don’t see what good it’ll do.”
capitulated entirely 160:9
Quote:
Impressed by those who visited him at the hospital, he capitulated entirely, when, later in an upper room of this house, he heard the story of some man whose experience closely tallied his own.
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Old 02-20-2008, 08:40 PM   #19 (permalink)
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warrens
I drank against my will before-have you?
pure powerlessness
I cannot control how much I will drink once I take the first snort,or shot
when I first started drinking many yrs ago,it was choice
when I got to AA,choice did not keep me sober.Choice is a human thing,and the abc`s back up my powrlessness
a-we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives
b-that no HUMAN(so much for choice)power could have relieved our alcoholism
c-that God could and would if He were sought.
]

oh yea,about the "I wish I had dt's, shakes, etc, and other deathly aspects of withdrawal."

keep drinking,you`ll get there
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Old 02-21-2008, 07:06 AM   #20 (permalink)
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warrens
I drank against my will before-have you?
pure powerlessness
I cannot control how much I will drink once I take the first snort,or shot
when I first started drinking many yrs ago,it was choice
when I got to AA,choice did not keep me sober.Choice is a human thing,and the abc`s back up my powrlessness
a-we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives
b-that no HUMAN(so much for choice)power could have relieved our alcoholism
c-that God could and would if He were sought.
]

oh yea,about the "I wish I had dt's, shakes, etc, and other deathly aspects of withdrawal."

keep drinking,you`ll get there
Thanks to all who have replied. Every sentence has been helpful. I think I've sorted out the conundrum and can press on. I was driving myself "coo-coo," RustyZipper.

I simply wish to surrender to the TRUTH, something I apparently didn't do in the past. I am powerless when I drink. End of story. It doesn't matter what, or how much, I drink. We may all be different in that regard. But my life has clearly become unmanageable. Thank gof I haven't lost everything-yet.

I am so grateful for this community of diverse souls with a common bond. I hope I can mature in my thought processes and form a clear picture of-and a path to-the prize.

Day 6 and I feel better physically and emotionally than I have in a long time. That in itself should tell me something.

I need to remember this powerlessness forever. The visage one "one or two delicious beers" sometimes raises it's attractive head. I am convinced now, beyond a doubt, that such a thing is impossible for me. I am not normal in that regard. It is time to divorce a "constant companion," (beer) that is so attractive but means me nothing but ill. The divorce is final, except for the settlement.

Thank You

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