Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Acceptance, And Facing Our Own Powelessness.

Yesterday I received a comment from a reader who had found a loved one dead from a heroin overdose, and felt guilty because they'd talked themselves out of a feeling of concern that something was wrong, and the next day, found his body.

I read the comment this morning, and was reminded of Neil Young's "The Needle And The Damage Done", in which he sings, "...but every junkie's like a setting sun..."

I came to my blog this morning meaning to write a post about "Live and Let Live." I read that comment and thought of the last young man I knew who died from a heroin overdose. He was in his early twenties, a handsome university student. When I heard that he'd been found dead with the needle still in his arm, I recall being swept by an almost overwhelming sadness at the waste of another life.

When still married to my first husband, (who as far as I know is still drinking, 20 odd years after we've been divorced,) and very new to Al-Anon, I found the idea that I was powerless over his addiction to be maddening. Again and again I would speak at meetings about wanting to change him, and would hear others sharing about the difficulty of realising and truly accepting that the alcoholic or addict makes their own life choices. We can decide to stop enabling, and we can work on our own recovery. We cannot force them into sobriety. We are utterly and completely powerless.

We cannot save them from themselves, regardless of what the recovery business would like us to believe. I know couples who have almost bankrupted themselves putting a child into one rehab centre after another, only to lose the thousands of dollars expended, when the child leaves before the end of the treatment and picks up again. We are unable to fix what is wrong with them, they must be desirous of fixing their own lives. Some will, and go on to lead happy fulfilled lives. Some won't, and will die young, of alcohol or substance abuse. That's an unfortunate reality, but until we accept our own powerlessness, we can't be set free.


  1. So true. I wonder at the insanity of doing the same thing over and over again. Until I recognized that I could not fix another person, I was caught up in the insanity of trying.

  2. This message I should print out and hang on my mirror. I am powerless over both my son and my husband. I'm always angry when I don't accept that. I think now I will look at your category on boundaries. Thank you.

  3. Funny that this came up on my feed today, because the topic of today's discussion was "In what ways have you found that you are powerless over more than just addiction?"

    For me personally, that is a trick question, because my addiction has manifested itself in other ways aside from drugs. So the real question is for me, "in what was have I found that I am powerless." Period. I read one day that when we learn to accept our powerlessness and surrender, it is then that we can find where our true power lies. Then we can begin to change ourselves and the world.

    My power lies within myself only. I can change myself, my actions, my behaviors, my thoughts. I can not change what anyone else does or says throughout the day in regards to ANYTHING.

    This is an inside job. I have to begin to change myself. The thoughts of obsession and compulsion and total self-centeredness will always be there, it is what I learn over time to do with them. It has become easier for me to use the steps in every area of my life over time now, and as long as I am recognizing that I have a disease of addiction and I can not pick up a drug or drink, then it is a successful day, no matter how imperfect the rest of the day is.