Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Won't Power.

When I had been in Al-Anon for a few years, and was at a stage of having come face-to-face with some of my worst character defects for the first time, I went through a period of rebellion against all things Twelve Step. I'd sit in meetings and feel irritated at how long this person or that spoke, I'd make judgements, I'd daydream, and lose the topic completely.

I began to feel a creeping sort of alarm regarding this, because I knew how helpful program was to me in so many ways: working the Steps of Al-Anon had made it possible for me to enjoy life in a way I'd never have dreamed possible for a person with my history. So what was going on? I kept quiet about this for ages, before making what I thought was a brilliantly off-hand comment to my sponsor. She, of the keen understanding and directness, (which grated upon me so much at the beginning, and became such a gift)
pounced upon this, and suggested we explore it further. All my wriggling and squirming was for naught - she had me pinned, and insisted I elaborate.

It all came spilling out, along with my fears about why this was happening. She smiled lovingly at me, and said, "I call that "won't power."


She explained that she used that as a shorthand term to describe the negativity which resides within so many of us, and pushes us to: leave things be, don't rock the boat, don't make a fuss, put your head down, and try to be invisible, slide down the side of the room, smile politely, chat, but don't reveal yourself, walk alone, eat alone, be alone, and whatever you do, don't change anything.

I sat there stunned, because she had just described my most secret self in her crisp British accent. That was the start of my understanding of how my isolating kept me trapped in my sickness.
I'd always believed that keeping my true self hidden from other people kept me safe, but it wasn't true at all, it just kept me stuck.

My sponsor went on to explain that even after all her years in program, she still, especially in times of stress, had "won't power" surge to the forefront of her consciousness, and would have to make a conscious, deliberate effort to shrug that off, by making contact and reasoning things out with a program friend, or her own sponsor.

I have always isolated in times of stress, and that is still my default mode. I have to make a choice to do the opposite. When things are going well, I don't have the desire to hide out, it's only when I'm struggling with whatever demon or difficulty is here today. That's where the program concept of doing the opposite of the action we first consider, comes into play for me. If I want to isolate, I choose to call a program friend or my sponsor.

I had a perfect example of this today - my sponsor sent an email to ask, was I still driving over to have lunch with her this week, and even though I adore this woman, and enjoy her company enormously, my first impulse was to reply that I was too tired/busy/excuse of the day. Why? Because things have been a bit stressful here, and that's my "won't power" operating. Hide out, be quiet about it, smile smile smile and lie about how great life is.

So I quickly sent a reply saying that yes I was, and I couldn't wait, and hit that "send" button before I could change my mind.

That's program working in my life. That's me working my program. That's me turning, to open the door, shove the won't power back out across the sill, slam it firmly closed and lock it. I went and read some program literature directly afterwards, to reinforce my knowledge that this was a good choice.


  1. Choose to do the opposite. I will remember that. Thanks for your blog. It gives me so much.

  2. I like the idea of trying to overcome the "won't" power. I don't want to isolate but I do require some solitude. It's about balance for me. Great post.

  3. I get into a similar mode sometimes when I just don't wanna or don't feel like putting in the time, doing the work of going to a meeting, working my program.... 9 times out of 10, I go anyhow. I'm always grateful that I did. Good post!

  4. I like that "won't power" too. I isolated for soo many years that it is a huge red warning flag for me these days. I fake it till I make it..and it works. Every time I work it. You told my story today.