Transcript of Episode 257, I am Powerless.
Spencer: 00:01 What are you powerless over today and what power does that give you?
Spencer: 00:07 Welcome to episode 257 of the recovery show.
Spencer: 00:11 We are friends and family members of alcoholics and addicts who have found a path to serenity and happiness. We who live or have lived with the seemingly hopeless problem of addiction understand as perhaps few others can. So much depends on our own attitudes and we believe that changed attitudes can aid recovery.
Spencer: 00:40 Before we begin, we would like to state that though we at the recovery show may be in a 12 step program. We represent ourselves rather than the program. During this show, we will share our own experiences. The opinions expressed here are strictly those of the person who gave them. Take what you like and leave the rest. We hope that you will find something in our sharing that speaks to your life. My name is Spencer and I'm your host.
Spencer: 01:00 Today I'm going to start with a reading. This is from our daily reader, Courage to Change. October 10th.
Spencer: 01:07 The road to my hometown wound along a steep hillside. As a child, I was often afraid that our car would swerve too widely and go over the edge. I used to take hold of the rear door, handle and try to prevent this. I was too young to understand that my actions could not influence the path of the car, yet I often take a similar approach to my adult fears and persistent futile actions, Allen and helps me to accept what I cannot change and change what I can.
Spencer: 01:32 Although I can't control the way alcoholism has affected my life, I can't control another person and I can't make life unfold according to my plans, I can admit my powerlessness and turn to my higher power for help. When I am the driver, the responsibility for steering clear of the road's edge is mine. It is up to me to take my recovery seriously, to work on my attitudes, to take care of my mind, body, and spirit to make amends when I have done harm. In short, to change things, I can. Today's reminder: Sometimes the only way I can determine what to accept and what to change is by trial and error, and mistakes can be opportunities to gain the wisdom, to know the difference.
Spencer: 02:13 In some of the meetings I attend, we talk about the first step whenever there's someone new to Al-Snon in the room, and so it was that on Sunday I found myself reading from How Al-Anon Works – the first step discussion in that book – and considering how I was powerless in my life today. You know, I've found many opportunities to practice step one since I came to Al-Snon and only a few of these relate to alcoholism or addiction. Certainly in the early days when I was living with active alcoholism in my home, my primary focus was on my powerlessness over the alcoholic and her drinking. I got to practice, again and again, letting go of my overpowering need to control and to fix. As I did so my frustration and anger that had so filled my life were relieved. I found myself able to attend to my own needs and wants.
Spencer: 03:13 This weekend I had spent much of the time taking care of things that needed doing, and on Sunday afternoon I was outside, grinding rust off my car in preparation for repainting some spots. My phone rang. It was my brother calling with tears in his voice. Our 87 year old mother had fallen and hurt herself. She was being loaded into an ambulance to go to the hospital. My first thought was, I need to go there. I need to hop in the car and drive 500 miles right now. Pretty quickly the wisdom of the program came to me and I realized that that wouldn't really accomplish anything, so I took a deep breath and they turned it over. I turned it over to my higher power to help me, not worry. I turned it over to the EMTs and the doctors who would do their best to care for my mother. And I turned it over to my brother, my father and my sister who are in the area and are able to be there and provide hands on love and care. The wisdom to know the difference, as the serenity prayer puts it told me that this was something that I could not change. I could accept it with serenity and so I was able to keep on doing the things I needed to do that afternoon and when I went to my meeting in the evening, I could put my phone on silent and be okay with it.
Spencer: 04:53 Any call that might come in about her condition could wait an hour. Nothing would be that urgent when I'm 500 miles away. As of this evening, barely 24 hours later, my mother was transferred to a larger hospital, and had surgery to repair her broken leg. My wife, my daughter and I sent a card and my wife ordered flowers to be delivered to her hospital room. These are things we can do. I'm not abdicating responsibility. I still might find myself driving that 500 miles, but at this point it appears that won't be needed, at least not in the immediate future. I had a conversation with my sister just after I wrote these words. It sounds like things are going probably about as well as can be expected. We talked about some of our concerns and our fears and our gratitude that when she fell there were two other people in the house, my brother and my father who could help her, that there was an ambulance, there was a hospital that she's being taken care of some years ago.
Spencer: 06:07 My wife's stepmother, who was living alone after the death of her husband, fell sometime in the night and broke her hip or leg (I'm not sure) and was unable to get up and couldn't do anything until somebody came in the morning and found her lying on the floor. I have just so much gratitude that my mother did not have to suffer through that sort of event. My sister said, you know, it probably would be good to come maybe for an extended weekend once she's in rehab, just to come in and be with her and again, that is something that I can do and then I will do when it comes to that time. I'm concerned. I have concerns about how this will work out for her. I know that one of the common causes of decline and death in elderly people starts with a fall and yes, that is there in my mind, but I don't have to have it there 24 hours a day, you know. This is a gift. The program gave me this power and recognizing my powerlessness. I don't have to spend my time and I don't spend my time fruitlessly running that hamster wheel as as Eric likes to say, you know the hamsters are strapping on their Nike's and I can say no. Breathe.
Spencer: 07:31 Pray. It will be okay. I will be okay. Whatever happens, whatever comes for her and my father. I will` be okay. I know that because I have practiced that in this program and practice it over and over. Sometimes what comes will come. I may be sad, I may be grief stricken, but I am not. Right now. I am not living in the wreckage of the future. That hasn't happened and it may not happen, but by doing the things I can do by taking care of myself physically, emotionally, spiritually, I will be ready for whatever comes. The quote from the reading I opened with comes from One Day at a Time in Al-Anon. It says, “if a crisis arises or any problem baffles me, I hold it up to the light of the serenity prayer and extract its sting before it can hurt me.”