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Powerlessness

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Time for some Tuesday sobriety writing. As usual the cast of characters came out for a meeting today and we even had a few new faces, which is always nice to see. The seasons are changing here now, as cooler weather has been the norm as of late. I foresee the trees are going to start turning over the next few weeks. And what an amazing time it will be in Montreal.

Today’s topic was “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol and our lives had become unmanageable, AND we are powerless over people, places and things.

I am powerless over the first drink, and the next and the next. I could never stop at juts one, I mean, it isn’t a party until I can’t feel anything, right?? That’s why I drank, so as to make life “numb!” When I got sober I admitted that I was powerless and my life had become unmanageable. But was it really? I was a functional alcoholic. I thought I was making it work ok. I see now in hindsight what a mess I was on Sunday mornings after a Saturday night swirling around the bottom of rum and a drug induced “speed run.”  I was a wreck.

Thank God for that last hangover…

Getting sober took time. Realization of just how powerless I was took time as well. So this meditation is about what I have learned about powerlessness and the fact that I am powerless over people, places and things.

When I came to Montreal sobriety I was hitting a lot of meetings. I was inundated with information and I was bombarded with drama on all sides. I did not know THEN what I know today. five plus years later. And I surely did not learn this the first time I got sober because I slipped…

I had my expectations list for God when I got sober. And like I have shared before, He would look at that list and say:

  • Maybe next week
  • Rethink the request
  • I don’t think so
  • Um, no …
  • Absolutely Not !!!

Jesus, I was powerless over God too…

I would go to meetings after not having had a drink in so many days, weeks, months and years. I will relate one story that is true. There is a member here in Montreal, who shares his sobriety date with us at our beginners meeting. He’s been around a bit longer than I have, he’s a much older gentleman. I was sober a year in December 2002 and I was at a meeting over Christmas that year. I was sitting around a big huge banquet table with friends flanking me on both sides. That night I heard this man say that:

“I have a cabinet in my home with beautiful bottles of alcohol back lit by lights  that made them look pretty. He goes on to say that even though he says he’s been sober since 1986, he drinks and has the occasional nip of sherry and wine and spirits.”

I almost raised out of my chair. My friends had to hold me back. I was so resentful at that piece of knowledge and it ate at me for years. I judged him and his sobriety against my own time of total abstention. I was learning about powerlessness over people, places and things…

I invested in his drama. I let that affect my sobriety. I allowed him into my head. And I carried that shit around for a long time. Every time he shared his sobriety date I wanted to throw up.

Over the years, I would get into very un-sober thinking. I involved myself in issues that were not mine to get involved with. I invested in “jackpot” situations that made me insane at times. I did not know about “The Path.”Today he doesn’t bother me because I pray for him and I understand that we all have a path to walk. And I cannot walk anyone else’s path but my own. I am powerless over others. And I don’t have to carry around that resentment baggage any longer. There are no justified resentments. And expectations are just pre-packaged resentments.

We are only responsible for our side of the street and nothing more. Today I can go to a meeting and listen and share experience, strength and hope. And at the end of the meeting I can walk out and come home and not have a resentment or be angry or live inside my head.

They say “that an alcoholic or addicts head is a place where angels fear to tread!”  I was surely one of those people.

I believe that having a religious education whilst getting sober really helped me put into practice the twelve steps. I also believe that studying God day in and day out and learning about the many world religions day in and day out, truly helped me learn the concepts from a “many directional approach.” There is a path in life…

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The Dalai Lama speaks about the path. The Buddhists teach about the path. We walk along the path of life, (visual here) walking down the center line of a street. Life goes on passing us by on either side. We have a choice in what we engage in and what we do not.

Let us look at the Four Noble Truths: We need to (1) know the specific types of sufferings   involved. (2) discover the causes of those sufferings, (3) see if it is possible to remove those causes, and then (4) determine what should be practiced. Renunciation, therefore, involves at least a partial understanding of the four noble truths:

  • true suffering
  • true sources of suffering
  • true cessation of suffering and its sources
  • true paths for actualizing true cessations

In temporal sequence the second truth – the sources of suffering – precedes the first truth – suffering itself. Similarly, the fourth truth – the paths of practice – must precede attainment of the third – the cessations of suffering. However, Buddha taught the four truths in the order of practice, not in the order in which they are produced.

These Four Noble Truths applied to daily living have helped me stay in the moment, to live in the moment. To rid myself of suffering, to clear away the wreckage and to stay out of drama that is not mine. Sobriety is so much easier when I stay sober mentally and emotionally. I don’t have as many bad days as I used to.

I do not surround myself with drama, in fact I stay away from it. I know how to choose my battles wisely. I know what my capabilities are and what my character defects are. I can show you the way to peace, but I can’t make you peaceful. I can show you the way to serenity but I can’t force you to be serene.

I can lead by example. And that is how I live my life today. In some cases I get evangelical about being sober or religiously educated, and maybe that is the right term and I must always keep my pride in check. I have enough time under my belt and enough certitude to speak from a place of experience, and not from a place of arrogance.

I am powerless over people, I can’t control what you do, say or think. I don’t have to engage you if I don’t want to. I can’t get you sober, you have to “get it” for yourself. I am powerless over places, I don’t shop in the “S.A.Q” (Quebec Crown Liquor store) and I don’t go to bars – I haven’t been out to a club in over a year now. I am powerless over things: I don’t have a lot of expectations. I work daily to keep things in check.

I do my daily prayers and meditation because it works for me. I stay around the “way” as much as I can on a daily basis. When you lead with love and kindness usually, for me, I can do what needs to be done, I can minister from the “right” location and not the wrong location. I know what to do in sticky situations. I go to meetings, I stick close to my base and I take care of me first. If I stay sober – I can most likely show you how to stay sober.

So that’s what I have to say about powerlessness…