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NarAnon Step One

Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over the addict - that our lives had become unmanageable.

Step One may be easy to read and easy to agree with, at least on the surface. We can freely admit to the fact that our lives are in real trouble. After all that is why we finally came to NarAnon.

It may not be so easy to admit we are powerless, or that we cannot control and manage our own lives. We may say it is not so: "it is the addict that is out of control - if I could only change him, I could manage very nicely, thank you."

We have tried all kinds of things to show them how wrong they are. It seemed so obvious to us! "If only he would decide to stop using. If only I could do just that one right thing to make him stop. But none of it works; he is so stubborn, blind, uncaring and cruel." If our lives were unmanageable, it was certainly not for lack of our trying! We have believed we were the only reason we have managed so long. After all, we have kept it together alone, all this time.

The frustration and anger we feel clouds the issue, but slowly we begin to see that the parts of our lives that are unmanageable are not ours to manage. We are indeed powerless over the addict. All the manipulating and maneuvering has not helped. We cannot control and manage, because it is not our lives we are trying to manage. We must realize where our responsibilities end. We do not like it when our well meaning relatives and friends try to tell us how to live. Neither do our loved ones (addicts) like us to tell them. This is when we need to remember the NarAnon reading, "we didn't cause it; we can't control it and we can't cure it."

The other part of Step One begins to become clear. We must let go of the addict's part. We only prolong their struggle by meddling. We must stop our crazy compulsive behaviour and let them dance with their addiction alone. We can stand back, without losing our love and compassion for them and "Not Do". It's OK, it doesn't cause a dramatic change, and it didn't change when we "Did" either. Some of our craziness leaves and we realize we feel a little better. All it took was inaction.

Still, we feel resistance. The idea remains that perhaps we can "help" our addicts. We have not completely surrendered to the idea that we cannot stop their behaviour, but the prize looms there in front of us. If only we could let go of that nagging voice to "do" that one little thing that will finally make the difference.

We have found the need for Step Two, and we can and do come back to Step One. It is a step that we may never put aside as completed. It is a tool to be used again and again.

Try a little exercise with Step One. Substitute the name of your addict for the word addict and then read it through again in the first person. Then put another name in its place, and another, all belonging to people you have tried to change because you knew how they needed to change. Over and over say the lines.

Do you see?

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