The dash in step one isn’t shorthand for therefore.

Step 1: we admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.

The first hard-knock lesson I learned was that putting down the bottle didn’t change my capacity for messing up my life.  Sure, it lessened the intensity and frequency with which I went off the rails mentally, but it became clear pretty quick that there was much more to be done beyond abstinence if I was ever to glimpse serenity.

See, I’m perfectly capable of making things miserable without being altered.  My natural paranoid pessimism can twist reality just fine by itself, thank you very much.  Alcohol merely intensified those feelings, fanning the flames of distrust, arrogance, depression, you name it.  In order to get that much desired rush that used to be achieved through drinking, I fell back on my insane thinking to work myself into a manic or depressive state.  Worry, self-doubt and anger were my go-tos: easy to access and obsess over alone, I’d construct an inescapable trap around myself, then wallow it the hopelessness, resenting those on the outside holding keys.

Never mind that the trap had no locks on it in the first place, nor walls:  it was nothing more than a self-made construct of negative emotions that undulated from my very being.  I was a stand-alone mess, simultaneously begging for help while rejecting all offers.

What’s really going on is this: I’m confusing manageability with control.  When I blame other people, places or things for making my life unmanageable, it’s because I want to control them.  I want them to bend to my will and fit into my overarching worldview which has me at its center.  Everything that happens runs through my filter.  How does this whatever affect me, and how do I feel about it?

What all that means: instead of celebrating others’ successes, I concentrate on my own failings in comparison to their good fortune.  I fixate on the unfairness of it all, discounting any and all progress that I have made as something that anyone could achieve through simply falling out of bed in the morning.

When will it be my turn?  When will I be happy?  Do good things only happen to good people, and that would explain why I only get the bad stuff?

Well, yes, if that’s how I choose to look at everything.

Realize that almost everything that comes in contact with me isn’t a taunt, or brag, or referendum on my entire useless existence.  This might be overstating things, but it’s what my disease does.  It wants to prove that my life is still unmanageable, that nothing has changed or gotten better, and though I may be powerless over alcohol, at least it let me live with the thing I’ve become.  It wants to convince me that the life I’m currently living is hell, and that the hell I just escaped from would be more palpable this time, as I’m so much more aware of the pitfalls.

Cunning, baffling, powerful!

Now for the positive stuff:  This program saved my life, and that’s a fact that I can never discount.  There has been progress made, and I am much happier now, even if I’m not always aware.  Acknowledge the daily goodness I’m capable of bringing to the world, as long as I’m willing.  Gratitude and humility can go a long way.

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