Wednesday, August 17, 2011

So are you still Powerless... or are you now Powerful?

What's with this word Power being thrown around in A.A. discussion?

We came in as powerless, right?  Well no shit.  If we weren't powerless, we wouldn't have problems with booze amongst many other problems.  Now save your "But alcohol is not the problem" rant for a moment or five.

We come into A.A. with that state of consciousness whether we like it or not.  It just is.  In fact, we may have a myriad of other nasty states of consciousness such as; shame, guilt, apathy, grief, fear, desire, anger, pride...

But low and behold, the first thing we are hit with is that darned Serenity Prayer.  We are asked to be granted with acceptance, courage, and wisdom.  These states of consciousness are actually out of order... for courage should be first.  We are granted courage when we step up to the plate and admit we got a problem with booze and need Power to get past here.  We then may grow to the level of consciousness which is neutrality...  Neutrality!  Remember that one?  Then willingness, then acceptance.  When we get to acceptance, we not only accept our situation, but we come to accept the world.  We see that our problems are of our own making... that love is not something we obtain from out there... but it is produced from within.  We get away from the dichotomy of black and white, right and wrong... etc. 

From acceptance, we may advance to reason... that which is the place of doctors, Nobel Peace Prize winners, Einsteins, Frauds, etc.  But... is that far enough?  Not for the alky.  The book talks about Reason... and how it is good, but how me must bridge the shore of Reason to Faith... that which does not confuse the symbols for their true meaning.  Having interpretted a bunch of data and drawn a false conclusion, Reason does not in itself lead us to Truth.  Truth is knowable and attainable.

The real question is, do you want Power?  Do you want to get well?


  1. I have recovered and been given the power to help others. Truth is, most people are afraid of power, because with it, comes responsibility. The path becomes more narrow as we grow along spiritual lines.

  2. Right on. That's what I'm talkin' about.

  3. Like Rob, I believe I have recovered from the effects of alcoholism. This recovery has allowed me to gain power over a lot of things, drinking being one of them.

    I have the power of choice now, the choice of taking that drink or not. I lose that power, however, if I make the wrong choice. I also have the power that comes with acceptance, serenity, and most importantly, spirituality.

    But as Rob said, the most significant power I have is to help others; indeed, I have the responsibility to help others.It's all part of my sobriety. So here I think power and responsibility intermingle. Unfortunately, a lot of folks don't want the responsibility. They missed the part where it says "Whenever the hand reaches out..."

  4. I don't have the power of choice in booze.

    Never did, never will.

    There's a pill out now that might give us choice... Baclofen?

    In any case, whenever I thought I had choice in booze, I always chose wrongly.

  5. There's Revia, Campral, Vivtrol, Bactofen....And you do have a choice, Dog. You wisely choose not to.

  6. Here we go...........I love this idea of choice and the debates that ensue. Nice thing about this forum is I can disagree without getting overly nasty.

    I'm with Patrick, I have no choice regarding booze. None whatsoever, left untreated IE no conscious contact with God, my mind will bring me back to a drink, maybe my ego so attached to "my time" will think a bullet would do the trick nicely that way I'm sober when I blow my head off. Either way I'm dead.

    I said I have been given the power, implying that it was a gift, Grace is sometimes sufficient when ignorance prevails. Having had a spiritual awakening, I am not as ignorant as I once was and have to do more work to stay in a recovered state. This is why I submit and do all the steps yearly not just "living in 10-11". Similar to booze I like the effects it produces.

    Last few thoughts on choice.

    If the 10th step promise that the problem has been removed is true, where is the choice?

    If choice stems from will and I have given my will to God where is the choice? What kind of God have I chosen that would let me choose something I have a twenty year history of making the wrong choice.

    Choosing not to drink ranks right up there with thinking it through, if it works for you great, It does not for me nor the authors of the Big Book.

    Here's a question for all of us to sit with. Do you think you can keep yourself sober?

    Rant off........

  7. The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet obscure, have lost the power of choice in drink. Our so called will power becomes practically nonexistent. We are unable, at certain times, to bring into our consciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago. We are without defense against the first drink.

    As we felt new power flow in, as we enjoyed peace of mind, as we discovered we could face life successfully, as we became conscious of His presence, we began to lose our fear of today, tomorrow or the hereafter. We were reborn.

    It's not a semantic point that I would want to spend more then the time it took me to write this but it seems Joe is stating the obvious. Before the program we had no choice, now we don't drink anymore. It was me, in my weak, fleshly state that drank even against my better judgment and endless resolutions. I lacked power, spiritual power. I had plenty of will power, just not the amour of spiritual power; a sustaining power that continues to flow from God and is contingent upon my willingness to be lead by God in my new life, each day.

    But Rob is also right, if I reject God, my batteries vanish, I am vulnerable and such a conscious decision to leave Gods sustaining protection would leave me back on the Titanic.

    It's truly and enigma.


  8. The book says we get sanity back. It says that we gain access to Power.

    Nowhere does the book say we get "choice" back.

    Period, end of story.

  9. Not so fast there, pardner. I'm sitting here not drinking. Why? Because I don't want to. My friend drops by and offers me a cold frosty beer. No thanks. I made a conscious decision. Simple. I could have said "OK" and taken the beer. There were two options open for me here, I chose option one - not to drink.

    What gives me this power to choose? My spiritual relationship with God. While I have given my will and my life over to the care of God, He has not taken away my free will. If that we the case, then I could commit murder and blame God. Just by turning my will and my life over in no way relieves me of the responsibility to act rationally, to act as God wills me to.

    Now having said that, if I lose this spiritual thing I have going, if I drift away from God and the program of AA, then I will have no power to make the choice anymore. I will be powerless over making the decision to drink.
    I know I can't keep myself sober, else I wouldn't be in AA.

    Period. End of story.


  10. Right. You didn't want the beer and you didn't neeD to choose anything. Even if your friend grabbed your hair and poured beer down your throat, you'd have spit it out.

    And no. If you would have chose to drink the beer, God would have thrown sobriety bolts at your beer and busted them up. Geesh. Ye of little faith!

  11. I get what you are aiming at Joe, I think we are talking about similar if not the same principles. Sobriety as a natural bi-product of a relationship with spirit-God.

    I still like the 10th step promise that the problem has been removed.

    Here's a question, is it possible that you still don't have a choice to drink? Because you are doing the work you automatically said no to a cold beer,is it possible you are not really making a conscious choice? Is it possible that God is guiding you and making this decision for you? I don't know the answer for you, but this is the type of thing I like to sit with.

    If someone said to me, "Rob, would you like to go play in traffic?" I would say no without really contemplating it. Even though there is a theoretical choice to be made. Why, because I now react-respond to life in a sane way.

    I don't want or not want alcohol, I am indifferent about it. I say no when offered because this is the sane thing for me to do.

    God is doing for me what I can't do for myself (which is say no). Roland Hazard experienced this dilemma after he left Jung's office. Hey, Roland, want a drink? YEP. Although it would appear he had choice, he didn't. Truly fucked and beyond human aid. Scary diagnosis which is absolutely applicable to me (and I'm pretty sure PAtrick LOL)

  12. I was thinking in terms of my recent experience about this since this last smack-talking post of mine to Joe... knowing he's a good sport.

    I've yet to hit an obsession or a blank spot since my last drunk. I don't even get into those situations anymore it seems...where I have to even turn down a drink. I really have not been given the opportunity to turn down a drug in a LONG time. There was a time when this wouldn't have been so. The last time I had to be subjected to someone taking drugs was when I was on a floor install some years ago.

    But for instance, I was at a bar last night waiting for some burgers I ordered for takeout. I sat comfortably watching the sports channel watching the cook and the bar tender/waitress do their thing. Right before my order was up, the gal asked me, "Would you like a water while you wait hon?" I said no thanks. It was like she somehow knew. IDK how it all works.

    It's like asking Don Juan Matus, "So, what would you do if you were driving your car and under a bridge, some guy was shooting everybody who crossed?" He said, "I wouldn't be there."

  13. After we are "reborn", the new person has a choice that did not exist for the old person.


  14. OK, you sematics people!

    You win!

    We'll change the A.A. book now!

    To suit yous.

  15. Patrick. Was that Colorado smack you were talkin at me? I gotta give you cowboys some lessons.

    To answer Rob's question, is it possible that my choice is unconscious most of the time, and that God is guiding this decision? Yep, I think that's a lot of it. As we go further along the path, the narrower it gets but the easier it becomes in certain ways. Like choices being ingrained into our brains that we no longer consider them as choices.

    Except on that occasion, as happened a few weeks back when I was laying 250 sq ft of ceramic tile on my daughter's porch. It was 102 that day, and I opened her refer to get a cold soda. There on the door was a tall, frosty Heineken, dripping with condensation. For a very brief flash, a mere microsecond, the thought entered my mind. Damn! That looks good. No one is around.....And I reached for the soda laughing.

  16. Yeah, the obsession doesn't hit us when we're doing backstrokes in ecstasy, it happens when we're sweatin' our balls off and we're thirsty.

    Now, had you followed that obsession a little further, you might have cowboyed up and looked to see if there was a whole suitcase handy.

    The other day, I saw three guys heading from the liquor store into the back of their RV, each carrying a case of beer. The two front guys had the 30 case and the last guy had the 18. I figured... oh, designated driver!

  17. Good Responses guys, thought provoking to say the least.

    I'm down with the reborn part,still not buying the choice idea. I am pretty familiar with the basic text, If it talks about us getting choice back, please point this out, I have missed it.

    I'm still holding to my guns of the 10 step promise that The problem has been removed. If it does not exist, what am I not choosing?

  18. If it does not exist, what am I not choosing?

    Now there's some spiritual Kung-fu right there.

  19. OK, let me ask this question. If you do not have a choice as to drink or not, in other words that choice has been taken from you, then why aren't you drinking?

    How has the problem been removed other than we now have the power to choose whether to drink or not? Before step one, we didn't have this choice. I contend that the problem has been removed solely because we now have the power of choice.

  20. I say that the removal of low energy states, or the reduction/removal of states such as shame guilt apathy grief fear desire anger and pride bring us to a place where we can feel the "high" states that have already been available to our conscious being.

    In other words, we don't have to get "high" to feel high.

    Instead, we eeked it out with hard work via the steps via courage, neutrality, acceptance, reason love, etc...

    Acceptance comes about for us through forgiveness. We get forgiveness by doing 4 through 9.

    So when the "problem" gets removed, good stuff replaces it and we don't want to drink.

    That's how I look at it.

  21. Just got back from 3 days in the woods camping and hiking, can't say I missed my computer while I was away, but it is nice to back.

    I like what Patrick had to say, I say a lot, there is nothing going on inside me that a drink could fix. I drink for the effect it produces, same reason I do steps and try to live by spiritual principals.

    I'm not drinking, because the reason I was drinking in the 1st place has been replaced by a new set of ideals. I'm not drinking because I don't have to. It's not about wanting or not wanting. AA is not a place I go anymore, it's a prescribed specific way of living outside the halls.

  22. And it's that lack of need, those new ideals that Rob refers to, the removal of the problems that made us drink in the first place, the spiritual awakening and all that came with it - these are the reasons we don't drink today. I like to call it sobriety.

  23. Hey Guys,
    Thought I'd poke my nose in here. Over the last month I've had a lot going on, all good stuff, but a major upheaval has taken place and rearranged my life.

    Now about choice. I have not had to consciously make a choice to drink or to not drink in almost twenty-one years. If it was about making a choice, you would think that I would have made the wrong choice at least once.

    As for wanting to or having to, there is no wanting or having to anymore. In active alcoholism, I have to drink and I need to drink. And I drink whether I want to or not. In active alcoholism there is no choice but to drink, In the Sunlight of the Spirit, there is no choice to drink because the problem has been removed.

    Period. That's all there is to it.

  24. Good to see you again Jim.

    Prayers for my cousin Linda if you get time. She's suffering bad cancer throughout her body and the radiation didn't seem to help. I'm going out to see her now before work.

  25. Hope Joe's ok with the Apocalyptic activity in his backyard.

  26. The hurricane rolled through the east coast today, my area was hit minimally, big rain and heavy winds but no significant damage.

  27. Some of us could have used some of that rain. Looks like North Carolina got the worst of it?

  28. Never felt the earthquake. The hurricane was much ado about nothing. Lots of rain here and some wind, but no real local damage. The pond and lake temps took s a dive and the oxygen levels went way up, so bass fishing today was awesome.

    Nice you're back with us, Jim.

  29. Good to be back with you guys Joe. I don't know how much I will be able to actually post because I have a lot going on.

    Prayers going out for your cousin Patrick and for you & the family as well. All of the sudden family has became very important to me. The first of the month I found out that I have a half-sister, four nieces, a nephew, and a bunch of great nieces and nephews I never knew I had. There has been a lot of healing going on but there is much yet to do and it has become obvious to me that my role is that of the facilitator, if you will.

    I'll try to touch base here every few days.