The first step outlined in the book of Alcoholics Anonymous as a guide to recovery is:
1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.
When working with my first sponsor in the fall of 2020, I didn’t believe that my life was unmanageable. To me, unmanageable meant not being able to control or manage, the literal definition- Unmanageable- difficult or impossible to control or manage.
I had not lost anything, didn’t have any direct consequences from my drinking, my house was ‘in order’, I was fed, my daughter was clothed, clean, and fed, therefore I felt my life was manageable. My sponsor asked me to list out my daily routine hour by hour, including when I would start drinking and what I would do when I was drinking. During COVID (and for some time before), my daily routine looked something like this:
Wake up between 6-7am; check the cup next to my nightstand to determine if it's water or alcohol.
Make breakfast for daughter; finish any alcohol left from the night before; shower
Start virtual school
Go to the liquor store
Meetings; lunch for daughter and I; start drinking
Take a nap
Wake up from nap
Make dinner; watch movie/drink; check cups around the house (water vs. alcohol)
Fight the urge/go to the liquor store
Drink while watching a movie/listening to a podcast/ talking on the phone
10:00 pm- 2:00 am
Sleep/don't remember what happened
Wake up and stare at ceiling
Finish alcohol left in cup/ finish alcohol
I could see how a person reading this could feel my life was unmanageable. Though, at the time, rereading the list only made me consider removing alcohol from my work day. I was still under the impression I could do it all. What I didn’t include on the list, could have been used to make a stronger case (to myself) on how I was powerless over alcohol and that my life had become unmanageable. I didn’t add the countless Google searches about night sweats, tremors, and heart palpitations. Or the nights that I cried out to God to get me through the night promising if He did, I would not drink the following day (which clearly, I did not follow through on my end of the deal). The blackouts were happening nearly nightly. The chores around the house I avoided because I was usually too intoxicated to complete them.
This is the insanity of alcoholism. This is why alcoholism is a progressive disease. You bear firsthand witness to your life falling apart, but you can’t admit your life is falling apart.
I was recently asked to be a speaker at a meeting and the topic I chose to share on, was unmanageability in my current stage in life.
Now, unmanageability presents itself in my life in different ways. Currently, it is my desire to start Do It Yourself projects around the house. Within two months, I had started and NOT finished all of the following: 1. Digging up and reseeding my lawn, 2. Purchasing two IKEA cabinets for greenhouses, 3. Purchasing an outdoor shed for my gardening tools, 3. Purchasing lawn tools to mow and edge my own yard 4. Removing all items from my closet 5. Removing shelving from my closet 6. Painting my closet 7. Sorting clothes (mine and my daughters) to be donated 8. Selling on FB marketplace 9. Reorganizing my daughter’s room. 10. Moving my office from the third bedroom to my closet... You get my point. All of these things were happening at the same time. Everything and nothing was being accomplished. I’ve learned, that unmanageability in my life is my way of avoiding deeper seeded issues. I become over busy in order to ignore issues that need to be addressed.
I am working on noticing when my life is becoming unmanageable and asking myself, “What do I need to face? What conversations need to be had? What area of my life do I need to show more attention to?”
How does unmanageability show itself in your life? What do you do to get yourself back on track?