We admitted that we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable. Really? I had heard my well-meaning friends who told me to practice controlled drinking just on weekends, I had promised to do better when all in my family said I owed it to them to live soberly, I feared for my job when my boss told me to straighten up or get out. Indeed, I plotted and planned on how to extricate myself from the mess that I called life. I had the gumption to do it by myself. Self-help books, jogging, new diet regimen would all be a part of the new Larry. And now the first thing I hear when I walk into an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting is that I am powerless. Really?
Then they continued by saying that my life was unmanageable. Powerless and unmanageable! Never! But, I stayed in the room to hear more from those people, we read from their “Big Book”, we listened to the reading of the 12 steps, and then, listening to their stories of how it was, what happened and how it is now, I finally admitted that just maybe my life was a wee bit unmanageable, but I was not going to admit that I was powerless.
I didn’t trust them. In my world the people who did not drink were fringe losers. They were religious fanatics, goody-two-shoes folks who believed themselves better than me. They stood on the street corner handing out tracts or knocked on my door wanting to save my soul from hell and damnation. They went to church on Sundays and Wednesday evening prayer services. They were always clean-shaven, dressed well and mannerly. Gaaawd, who wants to be like that?
But, these AAers were different. They sported beards, ragged blue jeans, long hair, ratty sneakers and they looked at me with an intensity that made me uncomfortable because I knew they could see deep into the ravaged soul that tormented me so badly. They knew all about me and I had just met them. I wanted to run.
And they did not drink. Or at least that is what they told me. I was sure that probably after the AA meeting they all got together at the local pub to celebrate sobriety. In my little world everybody drank. It was unnatural not to partake of alcohol. But then they talked about the typical alcoholic. Do you drink alone? Do you sneak a drink at work? Do you spend your family’s grocery money on booze? Do you do things when drunk that you are ashamed of doing? Do you have blackouts? Do you think about suicide? Does your money never stretch far enough to cover your monthly bills?
Yes, yes, yes……but doesn’t everyone have those same problems? The smiles on their faces collectively said “no, there is a better way. But first you must admit that you are powerless over alcohol.”
Me, powerless? I could admit that possibly my life was somewhat unmanageable. But I control my destiny, I run the show, I am in charge. They responded, “and how are you doing with that?”
“Ouch. Nailed me. Maybe I’m not doing such a great job. Ok, I’ll come back tomorrow night and hear some more of your sobriety talk.”
Then they gave me a list of their phone numbers and invited me to go down with them to the local coffee-house for coffee and donuts. “Who are these people?” I thought, “Why are they so nice to me?”
That is a brief synopsis of my first contact with Alcoholics Anonymous nearly 37 years ago. It has been, as a lady confided last night at a meeting, one helluva ride. Just because I quit drinking does not mean I immediately got fixed. I am still broken in many areas of my life and I continue to look for healing. But, I find comfort in knowing that there is a Power that will cover me with understanding and compassion, that there is a Power in presence at the tables of my AA meeting, and today I am perfectly content knowing that “I AM POWERLESS”.