The first time someone explained Step 1 of the 12-step recovery program to me, my palms started to sweat and I felt a little frightened. I didn’t get it. What do you mean by powerless? The unmanageable part I got… my life had been unmanageable for a long time. I had used drugs, relationships, sex, and whatever else was available in an attempt to at least have a semblance of ‘normal.’ If I looked around at the people I hung out with, I was as together as they were but I didn’t dare look within.
In her book, “Co-Dependents Guide To The Twelve Steps” Melody Beattie states it so well when she says, “I thought my life looked so much more manageable than the lives of those around me— until I started looking within. That’s when I found the undercurrent of fear, anger, pain, loneliness, emptiness, and unmet needs that had controlled me most of my life.”
When I stepped into recovery I thought that I only had to stop taking heroin. I did that! But I found out pretty quickly that drugs were not the only issue. I had been abused and victimized my whole life. Even more revealing was that I now owned the role of being a victim. I even found power in that role at times. I felt I needed someone to rescue me… to care for me… to love me. I didn’t know how to exist outside of that victim role.
Underneath it all I had believed the lies:
• you are unloved
• you are stupid
• you are bad
• you are only good for one thing
And on and on. I had believed it all.
As I came to understand Step 1— breaking denial and recognizing my need—I realized that it wasn’t just the drugs I was powerless over, it was all of it. It was relationships, work, family, the lies I believed and told…really everything. There was an underlying feeling of sadness, anger, and hopelessness. Wow, my life really had become unmanageable! The coolest thing happened as I finally saw the value of Step 1: I surrendered to Jesus. For the first time I understood the need for a Savior. I am so damaged. I need God. In the surrender I began to experience my life and to wake up to the possibility of healing. It was, and still is incredible!
Now in my recovery, I frequently come back to this step, especially when I find myself believing all the lies again, experiencing increased drama in my life, and facing chaos and stress around every corner. I believe the Holy Spirit…God… my Higher Power gently nudges me and sweetly invites me to surrender it all to Him, admitting once again I am powerless…but He is not!
If your life has become unmanageable … stress is out of control… relationships always have an unhealthy edge, I pray you will surrender! Let go and let God. God really is crazy about you and He delights in your recovery. Find a good support group in your church or better yet start one!