Wednesday, 11 January 2012

What's the Use? I'm Anyway Powerless!

If I accept that I am powerless then how will I ever overcome my struggle?

by GYE, Pesach (See all authors)

I've read the first step and admitted powerlessness. But I am finding that this is dangerous for me. Once I start falling I just give up and say, "well anyway I'm powerless"!


GYE Replies:

This is a common misunderstanding in what the word "powerlessness" means.

Powerlessness (in step 1 of the 12-Step program) implies a combination of two things.

1) Once I start, I can't stop. No matter how much I know it will kill me, I will keep going.

2) I must stop. It is poison for me. It will kill me.

Recognition of these two things FORCES us to come to rely on Hashem completely because we have no way out. We are stuck between a rock and a hard place. And when Hashem sees that we honestly realize that without Him we are finished, He makes miracles for us. (As Chazal say "Ain ben David ba ad sheyomru ain lanu al mi li'hisha'en ela avinu shebashamayim".)

The mistake in your question stems from assuming "Powerlessness" to be only #1, leaving out the vital ingredient of #2.

When we are faced with a test and say "I'm powerlessness" we mean to say, "If I start, I will not be able to stop. And it will kill me."

It is analogous to a drunk getting into his car and muttering to himself, "I know I am drunk. Once I start driving on the highway, I won't be able to stop. And I will likely get killed - or kill others".

Powerless makes us realize we CANNOT AFFORD TO LUST. We can't afford to get into the lust car. We are drunk and we will soon be driving down a road to gehenom!

Once we have the recognition of powerlessness that incorporates both of these aspects, we force ourselves to make the right gedarim. We learn how to do our best to avoid the first drink, and we learn how to give over our will to Hashem to save us from this "death".

 

Along the lines of what I answered someone above, "Pesach" from SA happened to share this with me by e-mail (coincidence?):

I would like to share some insight with the GYE family regarding Step One of SA. It has taken me many years to return to the source of the 12 step program, the Big Book of AA. Upon doing this I received a powerful insight into the meaning of powerlessness in step one.

What makes me a sex addict? What makes me powerless? The big book is very clear: it does not say I'm a real addict because (in my case) I act out sexually. It does not say I am an addict because I try and quit and find it difficult without outside support like counseling, meetings or doctors. It says what makes me a real addict and separates me from others is that my will-power when it comes to lust at certain times is practically non-existent. It says the addict encounters strange mental blank spots where parallel to our sound reasoning we find the most trivial reason to act out. The humiliation and suffering of even a week ago do not crowd into our mind and we start acting out as carelessly as it were eating a meal. (The big book quotes an alcoholic as saying he started to drink as carelessly as if the beer were ginger ale even though he knew his alcoholic condition). It says the main problem of the addict centers in his mind and we have no defense against the first drink/act out except for a higher power. For the addict, self-knowledge avails us nothing.

The essence of what I am trying to say is that powerlessness refers to our sexaholic minds, our addict mentality is what gets us into trouble over and over again, and until a spiritual awakening is reached we will find ourselves at some time or another pounding our heads asking in true sincerity how it was we could have slipped again. The slogan in the rooms, "our best thinking got us here" is so true.

Thanks for letting me share.

Happy Pesach,

Pesach