We admitted we were powerless over our addiction and that our lives had become unmanageable
All of the words in this step are important. One of the words to highlight is were. The emphasis that's placed on powerlessness can feed into our learned helplessness and keep us bonded to a mindset that denies our agency, autonomy and resilience. When we are in active addiction we really are helpless and powerless, under the control of the disease.
"...drugs had the power to turn us into someone we didn't want to be..." - Basic Text, Narcotics Anonymous
My experience is that for most of my life I did things that I didn't want to do and I wasn't the person that I wanted to be; I wasn't the person that I thought I was because of my actions. The disease of addiction (which lives in the mind) was telling me lies that had basically taken over my mind (yes - a little bit like being possessed by a demon.). The last year or so of my active addiction, I was using against my will. I literally felt like there was something living inside my body that was making me do things I didn't want to do, but I couldn't stop. That was a kind of learned helplessness; I got to a place where I stopped bothering to speak in complete sentences and
I didn't bathe much. This started with laziness and distorted and priorities - I was so focused on getting one more that I did not have time to brush my hair or take a bath. Then, I lost access to hot water and it got to be winter, so bathing was definitely out of the question. This behavior led to a condition where I couldn't make simple decisions, I didn't know how to do anything that wasn't related to getting high.
When I arrived at my first institution in 2002, I was happy for the warm bed and hot water (because of the destitution that I had been living in) but I was also relieved to be told when to go to bed, when to eat, and when to smoke. It took me another 8 months, one more detox and the gift of utter desperation to let go of trying to control my addiction and surrender to Recovery for a life built on spiritual principles.
Once the drugs are out, we are no longer powerless over how we act. We are no longer powerless. Once I surrendered to Recovery, I gained the power to change my life from the inside out. It takes time to build the strength of making decisions and choices, because it has become a foreign process. Some of us never had it in the first place, some of us had it and lost it. Either way the decision to the next right, honest thing has become foreign, not lost. The ablility to take care of ourselves in an objective way has become, lost, if we ever had it. By objective I mean how a parent would take care of child, my first sponsor encouraged me to be the best parent I could be to myself. Many people like to think of their higher power as a parental figure. We can learn to take care of our bodies as the vessel that houses and carries our spirit through this life. We learn to place the care of our bodies, minds, and spirits in front of the urgency of instant gratification. We start with attending to thirst, hunger, and rest and noticing how this effects our ability to be who we want to be in our lives.
" I feel funny, I think I might be hungry....am I tired, or do I need to eliminate?"
Power comes in remaking choices to care for ourselves in the most basic, dense, mundane, sacred ways. We were powerless over our active addiction, we are powerless over having the disease of addiction, but we are not powerless over what we do about it and the choices that we make. We are not powerless over our behavior.
You have power over your thoughts. You are not responsible for your thoughts, and you have power over that. This is where Yoga becomes a powerful tool for recovery. The mind will follow the breath. We train the mind to follow the breath. We control the breath, we control the mind. This is not a cure for addiction, it gives us the power to keep the disease under arrest.
When I know that I'm powerless over this disease, I can make the decision to not interact with it in anyway. When I know that I will always have it, I'm not trying to make it something else. I come into acceptance of the things I can't change, and stay willing to participate in the things that I can change. I continually get a better perspective on my life and move into full participation with my best life.