Every day I can re-explore the experience of powerlessness. I don’t have to fully understand powerlessness or even articulate it particularly well to benefit immensely from meditating on, and touching on, what powerlessness means to me today.

I never felt especially powerless over alcohol even when I drank, because of the illusion(s) of control I tried so hard to maintain. I had alcohol parceled in a box, along with so many other boxes I had collected in the closet of my psyche: boxes containing my professional identity, my children, my partner, my family. In the case of alcohol, I “knew” I “only” drank so-much, or at certain times, and of a certain caliber of alcohol (“the good stuff!”). I worked hard to look like a normal, social drinker, and even when this facade began to crack I then held onto the little bits of control I could speciously claim. Maybe I wasn’t drinking such high-quality stuff anymore, I could admit that. But I wasn’t drinking during the day, now that’s someone who has a real problem! Concomitant to my justifications and rationalizations, I studiously ignored evidence that, today, seems obvious. For instance: I wasn’t drinking so much high-quality stuff because our single-income family couldn’t afford it, at least not in the quantities I was drinking!

What does powerlessness mean to me today? Well for one thing, I know is I am powerless over understanding alcohol, especially the role of alcohol in my life. I don’t know if I’ll ever understand why some can drink and have no experience of (or no conscious experience of) any ill effects, whereas for me to drink today would magnify and manifest an experience of illness so profound in every aspect of my being. For me to drink makes me so ill physically, mentally, and emotionally – an experience almost impossible to fully describe. Today, I don’t have to run around proving alcohol is a bad idea for any particular individual or group of individuals – I just have to know it makes me very, very ill.

I met a fellow in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous who told me he once heard a speaker say that he’d never understood booze, and he didn’t understand God, so one day he swapped them – and has been sober ever since. The “old me” who’d need to understand, analyze, box things up, then deliver them in a pretty shiny package would probably have scoffed at such a simple life practice – but today, I get a great deal of strength from knowing I have that option – and I employ a similar technique! Powerlessness is just another one of those things that has given me more options, despite the seemingly contradiction. And for this, I am grateful.

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