Step one rings the bell of utter powerlessness over our addictive behaviour. But the implications of this one word go much wider…
As Gerald G. May suggests in Addiction and Grace, our fundamental problem is that we try to be all-powerful (omnipotent!) rulers over ‘our’ worlds. Some of us do this in direct and aggressive ways, such as shouting or physical manipulation. Others do this by indirect and passive-aggressive means, such as calm argument or emotional manipulation. Whether we are obvious about it or not, we try to exert power and control over not just our own lives (‘the things I can’ change), but also over the lives of others, or the circumstances and conditions around us (‘the things I cannot change’). Bill Wilson, in the AA Big Book suggests the same; that we try to run the ‘whole show’. We feel entitled to having things go a certain way, and when things don’t turn out as we think they should, we resort to whatever drug of choice we have to medicate our resentment. Even when things do go our way, we can grow restless and irritable, feeling that we deserve even more! So we turn to the drug even when things are going well!
It’s a deep problem, lying deep in our souls, but recovery, as enshrined in the 12 steps and the Serenity prayer, teaches us the even deeper solution. To ‘let go, and let God’ run the universe. Scripture is permeated with God reminding us “I am the Lord”. In 12-step fellowships, members are left to discern their own understandings of ‘God’; however, the non-negotiable principle is that ‘God’ cannot be ‘you’!
Yes, we are powerless over addictive behaviour. And, the solution is to grab at less power.