"The Power of Choice"?

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Taryn
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"The Power of Choice"?

Post by Taryn » Fri Jan 04, 2013 5:04 pm

Hi, I'm Taryn, and I'm an alcoholic.

Lately, I've had a lot of questions about the things I'm hearing at meetings in my area. I haven't been asking them to anyone, but now I'm pissed off and confused, so I'm going to start. I've heard from a number of people things like, "I'm grateful for the gift of choice today," or, "I don't have to drink today" (implying choice). I find this really frustrating because, from what I understand, as alcoholics, we /do not/ have any kind of choice about whether or not we pick up. We do not have the willpower.

Page 24 of the Big Book (4th Edition) states very clearly, "The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet obscure, have lost the power of choice in drink." If we had a choice, that would mean we aren't powerless, therefore not alcoholic, ergo we would not need the 12 Steps.

Now, another thing that is baffling me is that I've recently thought about going back out. I've considered stealing alcohol from a local store, going back to places or people I know would hook me up, asking someone to buy me booze (I'm 20, so not old enough to buy). I haven't done it. I was afraid of what that would mean; of ending up at the Mission or out in the snow somewhere, homeless again, losing everything I have and any chance of my life improving. I'm marking up the fact that I'm still sober to 1) fear (pg 8, Bill's Story) and 2) God. Taking God's help for granted, I'd stopped asking awhile ago for help staying sober. I started asking again. I still have tempting thoughts, but I can't control them. Hence, I believe I don't have a choice.

It also states on page 57: "Save for a few brief moments of temptation, the thought of drink has never returned; and at such times a great revulsion has risen up in him. Seemingly he could not drink even if he would." This implies to me that once the problem has been removed, we don't have a choice about going back out. It's up to God.

What are thoughts/experiences you have with this?

Taryn

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Blue Moon
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Re: "The Power of Choice"?

Post by Blue Moon » Fri Jan 04, 2013 5:21 pm

Taryn wrote: I've heard from a number of people things like, "I'm grateful for the gift of choice today," or, "I don't have to drink today" (implying choice). I find this really frustrating because, from what I understand, as alcoholics, we /do not/ have any kind of choice about whether or not we pick up. We do not have the willpower.
Step 1 says we were powerless, not that we are. I know a lot of people in meetings talk of being permanently powerless and unmanageable. I don't buy it, and I don't often hear them talking recovery.

I have the power today. It came as the result of taking the Steps and keeping active. If you read later on in the book, it talks of a new power coming in. Then it talks of being able to go anywhere, do anything, being in a place of neutrality.

Hence we have the power. Sober, with a recovered state, we can go anywhere, do anything. I've been happily sober in a bar at midnight on a New Year's eve. Today I've the power of choice whether to drink alcohol, just as I have the power of choice whether to drink bleach or garden fertiliser.

However I needed a lot of work and time under my belt before reaching that stage.
Ian S
AKA Blue Moon

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johnd
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Re: "The Power of Choice"?

Post by johnd » Fri Jan 04, 2013 7:31 pm

Hi Taryn,
Good place to spew your feelings. If you pay attention to what and how it is being shared you will hear that they have found an alternative to living a life without alcohol. No, we never lose the power of choice. What happens, in my case, I have been relieved of the helpless and hopeless state of mind and spirit that I brought to A.A. We have recovered from a hopeless state. Step 1 is a constant in my life today as when I first admitted I am an alcoholic. The longer I keep the focus about what step 1 had implied I can work my way out of the sad state I was in. Then as I learned in the other steps that my problem is reduced to the fact I can't pick up the first drink even if I wanted to. Which I thought I was going to do when I was 10 years sober. What had happened the insanity which proceeds the first drink was gearing up to try and take me down again. Luckily or the power of A.A. had become a big part of me. I had a foundation that obiviously had been built on solid A.A. ground. Instead of picking up the drink I picked up the phone one of the vital tools we learn about early on. I know you don't want to drink either. you obiviously have some foundation built no matter how rickety it feels it's still has some base to it. I am glad you are spewing tonight. When you attend those meetings you are having a hard time dealing with, I can tell you, I was just like that. I had to learn principles over personalities. No one can drive you out.Whatever resentments that are building it's good to air them out whether you do so here or with someone you can trust. I hope this helps you. that is what A.A. is all about. Trying help each other through the muck and the mirer. I'm John D. Glad you are here cause you sure are helping me tonight. Thanks John D.
Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans- Anonymous

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Tommy-S
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Re: "The Power of Choice"?

Post by Tommy-S » Fri Jan 04, 2013 8:12 pm

Thanks for the topic.

Are you done drinking for good and willing to go to any lengths?

That's what I was asked. I had no faith that I could 'stop for any length of time, so they made it easier... Do it one day at a time. That worked.
"Like a man who has lost his legs, we never grows new ones" (BB, pg 30)
, I can Not drink. Alcohol is a poison for me. So I place it in the category of the Draino under the sink or the Bleach near the washer. Simple.
"WE are NOT cured of alcoholism. What we have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our Spiritual Condition" (BB, pg 85)
Everyday, I renew that decision to close the door on a chemical peace of mind. I can Not drink or chew my booze, No matter what, and am willing to go to any lengths for Victory over Alcohol. Daily. It works.

Am I still powerless over Alcohol? YES, I believe so as I continue to see people returning (sometimes) who after putting a period of time together, forgot they couldn't drink and had a Rematch with John Barleycorn. As far as I can see, he's still Undefeated Heavyweight Champion... Progressive, Fatal Illness. It never gets better, only worse.

So I Choose to believe I am just as Powerless over the Drink now as I was when I came in... And I am Not willing to Drink and throw many 24 hours of sobriety out the window as an experiment. I just don't know IF I'll have another chance at sobriety, as I know too many who have died before they can get back.

However, because of the work I did, I can Recoil form the Drink as from a hot flame, I do take out assurance against a slip. I am a free man today...Providing I continue to take the Action.

(Remember, there is no chapter on "Into Thinking, Feeling, or Talking", it's "Into Action". No "Why it Works", just "How it Works".)

Let me suggest getting an AA sponsor, one who has worked the Steps. My sponsor was the first line of defense in meetings, filtering out the pop-psychology and simple crap some people spout, helping me to keep following the path of those who had successfully found a sober, happy life through AA.

Forget the orangutans in the meeting, resign from the debates over semantics, and get that sponsor and do the work. It pays off. I know, I got a good life today :)

My Power of Choice... I Choose to do AA and because of that, I don't HAVE to drink today!

Thanks...Tommy
Together, we don't have to cave in or wimp out to that Fatal First One, no matter what today!

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Re: "The Power of Choice"?

Post by becksdad » Fri Jan 04, 2013 9:20 pm

I am still powerless over lots of things, but because of putting the steps into my life, and continuing to try to do that every day (all of them), I find that I have the power of choice over only 1 drink. The first one.

If I pick up the first drink, all bets are off. I have proven that repeatedly.

I am convinced today that 1 drink will kill me.

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Re: "The Power of Choice"?

Post by anneD » Fri Jan 04, 2013 11:06 pm

The first time I heard the phrase "we are powerless over alcohol" at a meeting, it did seem like a contradiction. "Then what are we all doing here?" I wondered. "Why are we even sitting around this table?" But someone once explained to me that it isn't how bad you want to be sober that matters, but what you actually do to stay sober. Like going to meetings, listening to the stories of other alcoholics, reaching out to help someone who still suffers, working the steps. If you haven't been doing anything like that, and you have a bad day and are full of resentment of one kind or another, and you walk over to the neighbor's at four in the afternoon, and sit in a lawn chair and someone offers you a beer, and you wait until that second to "make your choice," chances are you are going to be powerless over alcohol. The way I look at it is sobriety is kind of like a garden. You can't expect tomatoes to magically appear in August if you never bothered to plant the garden, weed and water it. And taking this analogy a bit further you alone didn't "create" those tomatoes, a power greater than yourself did, which you chose to work with, to the best of your ability. That is where the choice lies.

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Tosh
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Re: "The Power of Choice"?

Post by Tosh » Sat Jan 05, 2013 3:30 am

Tommy_S wrote: (Remember, there is no chapter on "Into Thinking, Feeling, or Talking", it's "Into Action". No "Why it Works", just "How it Works".)
I'm an 'over thinker' and have a habit of over intellectualising things. It's just the way I am and it's part of my story too. But I totally agree with Tommy here, we can't 'think ourselves happy', we have to take the actions and happiness comes. If we're sober and happy (aka spiritually fit) we just don't need to drink.

I'm now tempted to go off on one about the concept of 'happiness', but I wont! :mrgreen:
Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn't matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.” Rumi (No sniggering from the sex addicts)

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Tosh
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Re: "The Power of Choice"?

Post by Tosh » Sat Jan 05, 2013 3:36 am

becksdad wrote:I am still powerless over lots of things,
I heard a share a while back where a recovered alcoholic was looking after his alcoholic mother. She'd just fell (drunk) down a lot of stairs and broken her pelvis. He was being a good son and taking care of her and he finished his share by saying he was powerless over people, places and things.

I remember thinking, "No, you're not, you're being a good son, you're looking after her, you're sober, you're finding peace within a difficult situation; you are not powerless!"

I think if we can adjust ourselves to any situation - even tough stuff like getting terminal cancer - we are not powerless. We have the power to find peace even in the toughest of situations. I'm yet to be properly tested, but I'm under no illusion that if I live long enough, I will be.

And of course, if we're peaceful, aka happy, aka spiritually fit, we won't need to drink.
Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn't matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.” Rumi (No sniggering from the sex addicts)

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Re: "The Power of Choice"?

Post by Mike O » Sat Jan 05, 2013 12:20 pm

Tosh wrote:... we have to take the actions and happiness comes. If we're sober and happy (aka spiritually fit) we just don't need to drink.
Yes. This sums it all up nicely, Taryn.

The A.A. programme is 12 steps. It is a simply laid out programme. Just do what is suggested in the book, with the help of a sponsor where necessary. This is what I did and my experience has been that it works. I had a tendency to overthink and overanalyse in the beginning, as you seem to have. You don't need to. The 12 steps DO work - you have the experience of millions as living proof of this.

Just do it, and keep it simple.

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Re: "The Power of Choice"?

Post by Marc L » Sat Jan 05, 2013 1:05 pm

Taryn wrote:Hi, I'm Taryn, and I'm an alcoholic.

Lately, I've had a lot of questions about the things I'm hearing at meetings in my area. I haven't been asking them to anyone, but now I'm pissed off and confused, so I'm going to start. I've heard from a number of people things like, "I'm grateful for the gift of choice today," or, "I don't have to drink today" (implying choice). I find this really frustrating because, from what I understand, as alcoholics, we /do not/ have any kind of choice about whether or not we pick up. We do not have the willpower.
Hello Again;
At the risk of hurting your feelings. Which part of Step One do you not understand?
I could help you with that. :D

Marc
Recovery won't just happen by Osmosis. You gonna' have to work at it some.
12th Step work ain't just a job... It's an Adventure.

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Re: "The Power of Choice"?

Post by Sweeney » Sat Jan 05, 2013 4:56 pm

Good questions Taryn,

My experience of this is that yes I was powerless and when I attempted to exert my willpower on quitting I inevitably failed. Today I exert my willpower on the the programme and I am in recovery today. I stayed sober for 6 months last year, I didn't get well and my illness progressed.


There have been periods of time when I was dependant on alcohol, I needed a drink to function. Today that is not the case, today I don't need a drink.
Personally I can resist anything but temptation.
Today I am not tempted by a drink.


Good to read your share

Keep Coming Back

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ann2
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Re: "The Power of Choice"?

Post by ann2 » Sun Jan 06, 2013 1:30 am

The choice I am faced with every day and perhaps every minute is whether to put my will and my life into the care of a power greater than myself.

Some day that power may decide I'm worth nothing except an example to others and get me to drink. I don't know. I pray not. And I try to make myself useful sober to tip the scales a little. Luckily there is a factor of mercy, but like most things in life it's not predictable. I know there's no quid pro quo in this sobriety gig -- even though faith without works is dead, works without faith may not be what my conception of God is after either.

I am blessed or cursed with free will. I think my hp likes me making up my mind every now and then that HP's way is better than my way. But as an alcoholic of course I have the constant slant that no way is better than mine :roll: So it's a good thing you all are here, at least for me! Thanks for keeping passing on the message of recovery.

My perspective on this question? It's not so easy.

Ann
"If I don't take twenty walks, Billy Beane send me to Mexico" -- Miguel Tejada

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Re: "The Power of Choice"?

Post by AlisonT » Sun Jan 06, 2013 3:43 am

This question has always confused me. I know that I do not have the power of choice over drinks 2 and on. I never had that choice. And before I got sober I had no power over the obsession of the mind that led to the first drink. Today I choose to do those things that keep me away from a first drink like pray, go to meetings, work with others, try and keep my mind free of resentment and anger, do the maintenance steps. I believe that if I choose not to do those things I will eventually have that first drink.

It's okay to not have all the answers Taryn. I once remarked at a particular sober anniversary that I thought I'd know more by now. Someone answered that she used to think she knew it all and realized she knew more now because she realized she no longer thought she knew it all.

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Re: "The Power of Choice"?

Post by MitchellK » Mon Jan 07, 2013 5:30 am

WE WILL INTUITIVELY KNOW HOW TO HANDLE SITUATIONS WHICH USED TO BAFFLE US

The desire to drink has been removed. It matters not whether or not I have a choice because there is no choice. There is nothing to choose because I have no desire to drink.

There are too many contradictions in the AA Basic Text to argue over semantics about who is a "real" alcoholic or if there is a choice or if we remain forever powerless. One page says we have a daily reprieve and another page asks what is one willing to do to stop drinking forever. People argue about recovered vs recovering even though they thump the Big Book and that same book only mentions recovering once and that is in reference to a newcomer.

The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop and we usually stop BEFORE we come to believe so therefore, one would think that there is a choice even before achieving some sort of spiritual awakening.

I wonder why people ruminate about whether or not they have a choice unless they are holding on to a reservation. If they are holding on to a reservation, the percentages are pretty high they will eventually succumb to that choice and pick up alcohol.

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Re: "The Power of Choice"?

Post by AlisonT » Mon Jan 07, 2013 6:08 am

I agree Mitchel. I think there is a fine line between studying the Big Book and analysis paralysis. But I reread your share Taryn and I want to comment further. When I say in a meeting that I am grateful that I have choices today it has nothing to do with whether or not I drink other than being sober gives me choices today. For example, I can choose who I hang out with today. When I was drinking I was hanging out with a lot of toxic people and my brain was so addled that I couldn't see it. I can change jobs or not because I am employable. I have all kinds of choices that I didn't have before as long as I am willing to accept the consequences. One thing I learned early in sobriety that has been instrumental in my life is to say "choose not to" instead of "can't".

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