I. Am. Powerless.

People don’t like it when you say that. Rubs them the wrong way. We like to think we are powerful. All we have to do is look at the state of the world to see that whole mindset gone disturbingly wrong.

Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over (fill in the blank with whatever has you by the short hairs: alcohol, coffee, shopping, drugs, sex, gambling, baking, working out. You get the idea.), our lives had become unmanageable.

I have found, curiously enough, that this admission of defeat, first over alcohol, then over other “drugs of choice,” men, children, shopping for shoes, my mother’s unfiltered advice, my father’s absence, the ordination process, whatever the thing is, has given me permission step out of the boxing ring. My trying to beat and wrangle into submission my need for men who were unavailable, controlling the outcome of my children’s lives, trying to get my father to love me and pay attention to me on his way to the horse track or Black Jack table, or the other myriad of things that have dominated my attention for decades, wore me out, beat me down, and left me empty, sad, and afraid. Being able to admit I am powerless over people, places and things, leaves me free to explore what I do have power over.

And my life had become unmanageable. Certainly while in the throws of alcoholism nothing good was happening. I couldn’t finish anything, I couldn’t hold a job, I was depressed, my romantic relationships were dysfunctional, sometimes violent, always chaotic messes. My life was the proof of what I had always suspected: there was something fundamentally wrong with me, I was unfixable, unworthy, and un-loveable. When I walked into Alcoholics Anonymous it was very easy to admit my life was unmanageable.

My life looks nothing like it did when I was actively drinking. It doesn’t even look it like it did 10 years ago, or 5 years ago, or even last year. Over the 18 years I have been sober, it has become easier and easier to discern what I’m powerless over and in what areas of my life unmanageability has creeped back in. The power I do have over my own life consists of the steps I take on a daily basis to deepen my relationship with God, deepen my self-awareness and deepen my compassion for myself and others.

Taking that first step is never a sign of weakness, like all the steps, pulling the curtain back to look honestly at ourselves and our lives is the most courageous thing we could ever do.


Keep coming back.

— January 19, 2019

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