This weekend I am at an intensive step work S-Anon retreat. We will be going through at least Step 4 today with reading and journaling time and panels.
As I sit in these meetings I will be jotting down my thoughts and feelings and the things that really resonate with me. I am going to publish these thoughts without any editing or order, as they come to me. Feel free to enter my swirling mind, take what works for you, and leave the rest.
Step 1 Notes from Our S-Anon Retreat
Sometimes we play games with ourselves – “if only” x or y or z would happen (or wouldn’t have happened) then everything would be fine. That magical thinking just keeps the plates in the air, spinning. It is juggling, it isn’t managing.
One thing that is a blessing and a curse about this program is that admitting unmanageability is a slow process. Step 1 seems like one step, but it is really 4 or 5 wrapped up all together.
One of the hardest parts is that we can’t understand it. Crazy is crazy. It can’t be explained with logic. We can’t control things, but we also can’t necessarily understand it because it isn’t ours to understand. We have to understand ourselves, not the addict.
Finding serenity can be very difficult in the midst of a crisis. Surrender. That is the challenge of Step 1. That’s what it takes to find peace.
Letting go brings clarity.
We are all waiting for the next lesson.
Step 1 is about “admitting” the truth. It is hard to make progress when you won’t even tell yourself that you are somewhere. It was easy to acknowledge inside that you are powerless, but saying it out loud puts action into the process and makes it real.
Powerlessness and unmanageability go back and forth like a seesaw. The more that we buy into the false thought that we can manage, the more we convince ourselves that we are powerful. There is a gratitude that comes with recognizing that life is unmanageable. We just create an illusion of manageability. The more unmanageable life seemed, the more power and energy that we try to expend attempting to control it.
Powerlessness does not mean helplessness. In fact, it means the ability to ask for help and gain true power and tools to get better. Control meant hanging on with a tight fist. Slowly when we are able to loosen the grip and just admit that we are powerless, we can trust something greater than ourselves to lead us where we need to be.
This is a wake up program for us to become who we are supposed to be, who we really are.
These things aren’t going to go away. Life is like an ocean with wave after wave after wave. You don’t sit there and hope the ocean stops having waves. You just learn how to deal with them, how to find peace in the midst of it all.
There is no magic cure. There is not one thing I can do or change that will make things better or perfect. I have gotten rid of my husband, but that doesn’t “solve” the problem. My life isn’t magically manageable because he is no longer here. It is much healthier and much more fulfilling and much happier, but there is always something to work on. Organizing things differently doesn’t change the problem.
Its okay to work on the same problem over and over. There is no failure in digging into things, and doing Step 1 many times with many different issues. This is not a “once through” kinda program. You don’t get a certificate and a passing grade and an “everything is cured” pat on the back. It is a constant process towards growth and change.
How many of us saw red flags at the beginning of our relationship with our addict and thought, “Oh, I can handle this”?
I like the idea that one member suggested of a “god box” where she puts slips of paper with all of the things she tries to control in order to let go of them.
“Step 1 was the hardest step I had ever done because I hadn’t done any other steps.”
One member re-words Step 1 to remove the “we” and focus entirely on herself in the here and now. “I admit that I am powerless and my life is unmanageable.”