Powerfully Recovered!How can she say that?
By Anne Wayman
The idea that one can become powerfully recovered in Alcoholics Anonymous or other 12 Step groups often raises eyebrows, and even ire. After all, some argue, the First Step says we're powerless, and everyone knows alcoholism is an incurable disease. Surely that must mean we are perpetually powerless and involved in never-ending recovery.
This thinking leads directly to two damaging myths:
- The myth of perpetual powerlessness, and,
- The myth of never-ending recovery.
These are myths because the do not reflect the information and suggestions given to us in Alcoholics Anonymous (the Big Book) and The 12 Steps and 12 Traditions, the original source material for 12 Step Recovery. They are damaging myths because they prevent us from realizing the full potential the 12 Steps offer. Let's look more closely:
The Myth of Perpetual PowerlessnessThe First Step says: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol-that our lives had become unmanageable. Those of us in recovery remember exactly how powerless we were over alcohol! And we know that if we begin to drink again, we will be just as helpless as we were then, or even more so. According to the Step, however, and our own experience, our lives became unmanageable because of our drinking.
The root of the word power comes from the French and means simply to act. Drinking, we loose the ability to act positively on our own behalf; taking the action to get sober is one of the most powerful acts we can ever take. Every day we're sober, every time we work on the Steps or reach out to someone else or take care of ourselves, we are acting powerfully.
The Program empowers us to heal and to become real contributors to the life we rejected with our drinking.
The Myth of Never-Ending RecoveryTry saying you're recovered at a meeting, and you're likely to take some criticism. Yet the Forward to the First Edition of Alcoholics Anonymous (the Big Book) uses the word twice, once each in the first two sentences. In fact, recovered is used at least 11 times in the first 164 pages.
While it's certainly true, continuing sobriety requires maintenance, insisting that we are always recovering and never recovered keeps us in a victim position. It's also a denial, if not a refusal to accept some of the promises made by the Program.
Consider sanity will have returned If tempted We react sanely and normally We are neither cocky nor are we afraid (Big Book, pp 84-85) That's a pretty good definition of being recovered!
Why is Important to Let Go of These Myths?We need to let go of the two myths because they keep us afraid. When we're willing to claim the Power we've been given we have so much more to offer others. Becoming recovered allows us to drop the fear of relapse and become all we can become.
We have the opportunity to choose.
Anne Wayman, who breaks only her own anonymity and protects that of others, is the author of Powerfully Recovered, A Confirmed 12 Stepper Challenges the Movement. The book is available in paper back or as an ebook, and the first 25 pages can be downloaded free at this web site. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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