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Step One Was by Far the Hardest For Me

Old 08-29-2010, 01:55 PM
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Ann
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Step One Was by Far the Hardest For Me

I remember when I first began working the steps, how easy it all appeared. I figured I'd have all 12 mastered in about a week, maybe two. HAH, nice try Codie Ann.

My CoDA Step One: We admitted we were powerless over others and our lives had become unmanageable.

Well, the second part was obvious...my life was an unmanageable mess.

I just couldn't connect how admitting the first part would ever have anything to do with the second part.

But my sponsor and those who went before me just told me to work more at where I was and stop thinking ahead. I wanted what they had, so I listened.

I admitted that I was powerless over my son's addiction. I admitted it again and about 100 times a day. Each time I began obsessing, I admitted it again. When he didn't go to his meeting, I admitted it again. When I was going to "help" him do what he needed to do for himself...I admitted it again.

I said it out loud, I wrote it down and I thought it often, like a prayer. I think I drove my husband nuts, lol, but I had to really accept it by "applying" it all day. It was then that I realized what a controlling enabler I had become...and how futile it was to think I had any "control" over anyone but myself. Eureka! An "AHA" moment...I really WAS powerless over others.

Here's where the connection came to the next part.

Once I finally (I think it took weeks) "accepted" (almost with relief) that I was powerless over others...especially my son and his addiction...I could start sorting out that awful mess that my life had become.

We admitted that we were powerless over others and that our lives had become unmanageable.

What a concept! What a truth! Who knew?

Now that I had figured out I was powerless, I needed to clean up the insanity in my life....Step 2 promised to do that and I could hardly wait.

The thing is...and here's the catch for me...I had to return to Step 1 often, and repeat the exercise, otherwise I could feel it slipping away on me and my efforts to control or obsess would begin creeping back.

So Step 1 was probably my hardest. Without it firmly in place, all the other steps would crumble beneath me and set me back again...much like Snakes and Ladders, lol, and it is one that even today, many years into my recovery, I have to repeat it often.

This is the step on which all the others rest.

The best advice I ever got was to take my time and stop looking ahead. This was the most important step of all, the one that would take me gratefully on to the others.

Sorry for the long share, I think I needed to think this step out loud again. And I hope that in my sharing there is at least one little piece of light that may help the newcomer.

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Old 08-29-2010, 04:15 PM
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Thank you very much Ann.
I can see this step will be difficult for me, even though step one of AA is clear as a bell.
Oh yes, I am powerless over alcohol. I have no problem with that.
But, I am going to have to write the word "powerless" on my forehead or something.
My obsessing with other's actions and thoughts can and does sometimes make my life unmanageable, and if I let it go far enough, I can get my depressive disorder kicked back into gear again.
So, I am a humble student, powerless over others. Powerless.
Sigh.....
Yeah, it will be tough.

Beth
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Old 08-29-2010, 05:12 PM
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Beth, something that helped me was deciding if I "owned" what I thought I had power over.

Someone else's behaviour? I am powerless.

What others think of me? I am powerless.

How anyone behaves? I am powerless over their behaviour...but I AM responsible for my reaction...this took work.

Sometimes it just became part of the question "Am I powerless?" and then "Yes!! I AM powerless".

It takes practice, it takes thought, but the pause to think about it was often all I needed to step back and take my hands off what was not mine to control.

Hope that helps a little.

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Old 08-29-2010, 05:55 PM
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Thank you very much, Ann.
Tho' not a newcomer....I learn and re-learn many times.
What a beatiful share, thank you.
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Old 08-29-2010, 06:18 PM
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I replace "powerless" with "none of my business" a lot.

Is the fact that that person is fixing to make a huge mistake any of my business? No. Fact is, I'm powerless over their lives and decisions.

The things I do have power over, my actions and words, ARE my business.
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Old 08-29-2010, 06:28 PM
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Thank you Ann, for your insight and for sharing.
I too, think that step one is going to be hard.
I am so so excited about beginning this step-study!

I have had problems with control for my entire life. As a child of alcoholics, I was at the mercy of their choices. I had no control over my own life, or over the bad things that happened, due to their drinking.

As I accept that my son is an alcoholic (he does not believe this), I am having a terrible time accepting that there is no way I can help him to stop. It just is so angering. first my parents, affecting my and my sibs lives, and we could not stop them, and now, my son is ruining his life, and hurting us, his family. It makes me so very angry, and sad, and desperate to help him before it is too late.

I see now, that I have no control over his choice to drink. I was just going to say that I could cause him to drink , by making him more angry, but that probably is not true either. He probably makes reasons to drink. Even tho he is not drinking now, due to no money for it, and if he had money , i wont let him drink here (please God).

I do know that my life has become unmanageable due to my sons drinking. I am not doing real well at managing my control issues. I am becoming aware of them, tho. I am learning a lot, but I know that this is going to be a very hard thing for me. They affect me on my job, in my relationships, in most areas of my life. I look forward to a healthier mind.

There is a freedom, tho, which comes from letting go. It feels good to know that I cant control it, and that means that I have not been failing him , in not finding a way to get him to stop his destructive behaviors.
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Old 08-29-2010, 07:13 PM
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The word "powerless" bothers me. Not that I disagree that I'm powerless, but that I'll allow it to become apathy.

"Well, there's nothing I can do about it anyway..."

I've had a lot of that lately. Fighting and fighting and asking for help...and getting beat down over and over. It's easy to just say "oh well, I'm powerless over all that".

Not sure what I'm trying to say here. LOL.
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Old 08-30-2010, 11:48 AM
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The first step kicked my ass and hard. I've always expected others to respect my individuality, but I sure wasn't giving it when I tried to control others. I was a hypocrite and figured that out when I realized the more I tried to control, the more I lost control of myself. I wasn't respecting my own individuality.

Admitting powerlessness was a beat down for me, and it needed to happen. I had been playing God for way too long and I was lousy at it. I still say "I'm powerless over others" out loud and often. I have to or I'll get that craving again.
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Old 08-30-2010, 01:08 PM
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The word "powerless" bothers me. Not that I disagree that I'm powerless, but that I'll allow it to become apathy.[/QUOTE]

I struggled with that a lot early in my recovery as well. My sponsor helped me to understand the difference between "powerless" and "helpless". If I looked at being powerless over everything, I questioned the need to bother to get out of bed in the morning! She directed me (more than once) to this reading in Courage to Change:


Courage to Change ODAT in Al-Anon II 10/16

When I am trying to tackle a tough problem or cope with a stressful situation, and I’ve done all I can for the moment, what then? I can do something that will nurture my mind, body or spirit. Perhaps I’ll take a walk or listen to music. Maybe I’ll meet a friend for coffee and conversation. I could have something nutritious to eat, or sit quietly and meditate, or read a book.

Al Anon is a program of action in which we recognize that we have choices about what we do with our time. A bubble bath, a massage, an Al Anon call, a bike ride, or a nap might be constructive ways to fill time that might otherwise be wasted on worry.

Even though I may be powerless to change my circumstances, I certainly am not helpless. I can use my time to do something good for myself. When I treat myself with love and tenderness, I am better able to deal with the challenges that life presents. I have a chance to feel good, even when surrounded by crisis.

Today’s Reminder:

One of my primary responsibilities is to take care of myself. I will find a small way to do something for my mind, body, and spirit today.

“… part of my recovery is respecting my need and my right to let go and relax.”—In All Our Affairs

Smart woman, that Judy....
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Old 08-30-2010, 01:08 PM
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The word "powerless" bothers me. Not that I disagree that I'm powerless, but that I'll allow it to become apathy.
I struggled with that a lot early in my recovery as well. My sponsor helped me to understand the difference between "powerless" and "helpless". If I looked at being powerless over everything, I questioned the need to bother to get out of bed in the morning! She directed me (more than once) to this reading in Courage to Change:


Courage to Change ODAT in Al-Anon II 10/16

When I am trying to tackle a tough problem or cope with a stressful situation, and I’ve done all I can for the moment, what then? I can do something that will nurture my mind, body or spirit. Perhaps I’ll take a walk or listen to music. Maybe I’ll meet a friend for coffee and conversation. I could have something nutritious to eat, or sit quietly and meditate, or read a book.

Al Anon is a program of action in which we recognize that we have choices about what we do with our time. A bubble bath, a massage, an Al Anon call, a bike ride, or a nap might be constructive ways to fill time that might otherwise be wasted on worry.

Even though I may be powerless to change my circumstances, I certainly am not helpless. I can use my time to do something good for myself. When I treat myself with love and tenderness, I am better able to deal with the challenges that life presents. I have a chance to feel good, even when surrounded by crisis.

Today’s Reminder:

One of my primary responsibilities is to take care of myself. I will find a small way to do something for my mind, body, and spirit today.

“… part of my recovery is respecting my need and my right to let go and relax.”—In All Our Affairs

Smart woman, that Judy....
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Old 08-30-2010, 05:46 PM
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step one. . kicking my BUTT.

i say it. "i am powerless over (BLANK)" -- five seconds later, my brain is off and running, trying to figure out how to solve each and every problem i encounter.

i've always been proud of my ability to endlessly analyze a situation, make a list of the pros and cons and then make the BEST decision. over an apartment, over what type of utensil organizer i should get for my utensil drawer, over any and everything. . .

and i'm a terrible snoop. my parents snooped on me all the time, read my diaries, listened to my phone calls, called my friends and my friends' parents to find out where i was/what i might be doing (even after moving out of the house and being in college/grad school!). . . okay, but so what? that's where i learned the behavior, but it is NOT okay.

not only is it not okay, it's BAD for me. . and here is where i have to insert

I replace "powerless" with "none of my business" a lot.
right. only problem is i think "none of my business" doesn't apply to me.

I AM POWERLESS OVER OTHERS.

I AM POWERLESS OVER THEIR ACTIONS.

I AM POWERLESS OVER THEIR DESIRE TO CHANGE OR NOT CHANGE.

I AM POWERLESS OVER MY DESIRE TO CONTROL THEM.

HOWEVER. . I AM NOT POWERLESS OVER MY OWN REACTION TO MY DESIRE TO CONTROL THEM!

but this, this is very hard.

i'm getting anxious. i feel it physically now much more than before. every couple of minutes sometimes.

trying to stay with the thought that my newfound awareness is part of the process.

Courage to Change the other day said something that i loved. . "Progress, not perfection."

i can't just say "im powerless" a few times and expect it to change how i feel and how i want to act. but the act of saying it a few times, a few hundred times, a few thousand times. . . then i might get somewhere.

but my lord it is difficult.

right now i can only accept my powerlessness for a few minutes at a time, then i'm off to win the races once again.
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Old 08-30-2010, 05:57 PM
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Ann, your opening share was brilliant!!!!

I'm only now seeing this step study ...
this is new since I was last here.

I love this!
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Old 08-30-2010, 06:11 PM
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I remember my sponsor telling me that when we try to control someone else, we give them all our power, and they then have power over us.

For instance, if I try to get someone to do something that they may not want to do...if they do it, I am happy. If they don't do it I am angry/sad/fill in the bad emotion. By trying to control them, I gave them power over my emotions that would depend on their response.

I had gone to great lengths to try to control my son's addiction, his choices, his life...and not once did my efforts affect the outcome. He made good choices and he made bad choices, he sometimes did what I wanted...but only because he wanted it too.

No matter how hard I tried, no matter how scheming I became, no matter how great a codie detective I learned to be...I WAS powerless, whether I was ready to face it or not.

As I shared early, it was almost a relief to "give it up" and admit it. Admitting I was powerless meant I no longer ran the universe. Funny thing is, I never did, it was all an illusion brought on my my fear.

Cats has some good questions on her intro to Step One. I have printed them out and intend to go through them and work this step once again. Each time I work it I am at a different stage in my life, and it's refreshing to take time and keep my foundations in place.

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Old 08-30-2010, 09:53 PM
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Cats has some good questions on her intro to Step One. I have printed them out and intend to go through them and work this step
I just was thinking I would do the same with those questions. Anyone have helpful thoughts on what to say instead of "the alcoholic" -- i know it's just semantics, but when I find something that works for me instead, it helps me feel much more connected to what the question is asking -- then I can answer more honestly. Sometimes I substitute "the drug addict" or "my boyfriend" but really it's about so much more than just him. . . it's the whole way I view the world and try to control everything. Should I just substitute "people"??? Lol, seems kind of extreme.
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Old 08-31-2010, 04:14 AM
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In CoDA (Codependents Anonymous) we use the word "others".

It's not just addicts I am powerless over, I am powerless over anyone I think "needs" controlling.

Yes, it's a broad word, but my control of the universe was pretty broad too
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Old 08-31-2010, 06:55 AM
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Step One

I AM POWERLESS (for some reason I want to SHOUT those words SCREAM THEM) and my life has become unmanageable (which is pretty obvious since I have this desire to SHOUT...particularly since I am not a yelling kind of gal).

If Step One is the foundation of all 12 steps, I have a lot of work to do just to be able to say the words calmly. I am powerless over others. I can only control myself and my own reactions to situations. CONTROL. If I really desire control.....I need to start with me. When I try to control others, I lose control of myself (I like that Ann).

Acceptance. I need to accept this fact.........I am powerless.

Step One is kicking my butt too.

My therapist suggested that I notice all of the beautiful things in my life and say "What did I do to cause _________" Such as "What did I do to make the sky so beautifully blue today." (Answer....nothing). "What did I do to make the stars shine so brightly." (answer....nothing). "What did I do to make all those flowers bloom?" (well......a little bit....I planted them and watered them but I didn't actually MAKE them beautiful--I just gave them the opportunity). She was doing this to show me the degrees of "control" that we have over things, people and events around us. And that's where I get all messed up.

I need to realize that I gave my AS all kinds of opportunities but he made choices that I did not control. I need to accept that and control my reaction to that reality.

Thank you again everyone.....all of your words inspire me, touch me, and help me change ME. (But that doesn't mean that any of you are controlling me....lol)

gentle hugs
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Old 08-31-2010, 04:23 PM
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My sponsor used to have me replace the word "alcoholics" with "people, places and things. "

The truth of the matter is that I am powerless over just about anything outside of my hula hoop. (a great visual I got from another of my recovery friends who's on the speaker circuit = for me that helped me a LOT)

I am not powerless over my actions, most of my reactions...
not my thoughts, necessarily, but what I DO with those thoughts...
I am not powerless over my words or how I treat people.
I am powerless over other people's feelings and reactions.

Thank you Ellen C. for reminding me to stay in my own hula hoop. LOL
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Old 08-31-2010, 04:26 PM
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If you want, bring your thoughts on those questions here. We can either add them to this thread or start a topic for each. It's a lot of work, working these steps!
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Old 08-31-2010, 07:14 PM
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Step one is hard, so hard. I made the choice to break up with my alcoholic/addict because of the way it was affecting my life. I did it because I knew enough to know that I couldn't change him, couldn't cure it, couldn't control him/it.

But I STILL can't give up the power in my head. I still think about it and him constantly. It is a constant internal mental/emotional struggle.
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Old 08-31-2010, 08:51 PM
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Believing I wasn't powerless, that I could fix things, did indeed make my life unmanageable. The harder I tried, the more unmanageable life became. I wish I had learned how powerless I truly am much sooner.

Even though I can say I am powerless, believing it is still a struggle at times.

I can only control myself and my own reactions to situations.
This is so true. I really need to work hard on how I react and feelings that arise in certain situations. How I choose to react, if negative, continues to make life unmanageable. Sometimes things seem so grim, it's hard to stay positive. I still think a lot of those "if only" . . . . , but I remind myself, I am powerless.

My grandma has it right, she always tells me "things will work out just the way they are supposed to, according to God's plan, not mine.
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