I am pleased to announce that Dogma Debate, LLC, a leading producer of audio books with a secular theme, has been granted a license to produce and market an audio version of Powerless No Longer. I am excited that Powerless will now be available in at least three formats: audio, trade paper, and ebook.
Dogma Debate plans to release their audio version sometime in November of this year. When it is released, I will link the purchasing locations on this website. This marks another step forward for Powerless, which has enjoyed some success since its release earlier this month. In the next few months, it will be reviewed in several places, both online and in the print media. I will, of course, be linking them here.
Thank you again for your interest in Powerless.
This excerpt is from Chapter 13 of Powerless No Longer, from a section that discusses techniques for reducing stress.
When we were using, we thought we were free but we were not. The servicing of our addictions restricted our options to only those that would perpetuate the addictions, leaving us unable to make simple choices now, when we are free to make them. When we were children, we learned to ask our parents’ permission to do things. As we grew older, we began to give ourselves permission to do things.
The time has come to start giving ourselves permission again, this time to do things that lead to healthy beliefs and behaviors. A good place to begin is by giving ourselves permission to be good to ourselves. Think about it. We have a 10-foot internal bullwhip, and for years we have been using it on ourselves. Why do we do that? We do it because our belief system tells us that we deserve no better. We can turn that around by treating ourselves better, but first we have to give ourselves permission to do it.
Do you remember the story of the teacup from Chapter 10? All that stands between us and being happy is giving ourselves the permission to be happy. We can choose to be happy even if the world is falling down around us, if we just give ourselves permission. That does not mean that we are ignoring what is going on, it just means that we have chosen not to allow ourselves to be drawn into depression, anger, fear, or other negative emotions. Those negative emotions are paralyzing, while a calm, confident demeanor is a great platform for problem solving.
We can give ourselves permission to plan for the future, now that it looks like we may have one after all. In the depths of addiction, the future seems to get closer all the time, doesn’t it? We start out planning for our retirement, but by the time we are ready to quit using, we can think no farther ahead then the next high or the next drink. Now we can begin making plans again, and working for the achievement of long-term goals.
It is important for us to give ourselves permission to do the things we need to do to maintain our recovery. If we do not do that, the rest of the permissions do not make much sense. By giving ourselves permission to do these things, we are reaffirming that we are worth the effort, and that we can prevail.
Along with being good to ourselves, we can give ourselves permission to do things we have always wanted to do, now that we have the time and the available resources to do them. One day, about a month sober, I spotted a beautiful pair of cowboy boots in a leather shop. I had always wanted a pair, ever since I was a kid, and they were about the price of three days’ supply of the scotch I used to drink, so I bought them. They pinched my feet, and I could not wear them two days in a row, but I never regretted buying them. Every time I wear them, I remember what they represent.
In this earlier post we discovered how we learn, retain information, and form habits both good and bad. We learned that the brain forms neural networks, based upon our experiences, that these produce thoughts, beliefs, and actions, both healthy and unhealthy, and at times we seem to have little control over them.
Some of our habits and beliefs become really well ingrained from long and frequent usage, and it sometimes seems as though we are powerless to change them. When we combine an intrinsically addictive substance with an unhealthy belief system we have a combination that seems nearly impossible to overcome. People just like us do exactly that, though, as we learned in this post. Perhaps they used the tool I’m about to teach you, but most, like myself, weren’t even aware that it existed.
We are going to be using this tool throughout the rest of the book, so it makes sense to introduce the main points all in one place, so you can refer back to it, if necessary, as you move along. It sounds complicated at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s really very simple.
Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) is a system of therapy, and a school of thought established by Dr. Albert Ellis in the mid 1950’s. REBT was one of the first cognitive behavior therapies, and one that lends itself well to both professional use and self-help. The basic premise of REBT is that we are not effected emotionally by events themselves, but by how we interpret them based upon our perceptions, attitudes, and the language we use to describe them.Continue reading
I had a twenty-six year drinking career that began on my eighteenth birthday and ended in August of 1990. The last year or two were the worst. I was failing at work, my personal life was a mess, and I kept getting into one scrape after another. I was doing the kinds of things that hurt people, ruin reputations, and cause pain to everyone involved. There was one thing that would relieve the pain, but it was also the thing that caused it and so on, and so on…. Finally, I reached the point where alcohol no longer dulled the pain, but I continued to drink anyway. I had to. When I drank enough, it produced the relief of oblivion.
I convinced myself that all of my problems were caused by my wife, my family, my job, in fact just about everything, except me. I just wanted to be a good guy in a good world, but all these other people and things in my life kept screwing it up. At no point did I ever make the connection between the pain and the alcohol – never.
One night in late August, I was sitting in my living room, drinking, of course, when I was interrupted by my fifteen-year-old daughter appearing out of nowhere. She was standing about ten feet in front of me, nervously fiddling with a piece of paper in her hand.
“Dad,” she said with a tremor in her voice, “what did you think of the poem I read for you on the deck before? You said you wanted to think about it for a while.”
“What Poem?” I said. I couldn’t remember even seeing her earlier, let alone any poem.
She extended the paper in her hand, “This poem, Dad. I’ve been working on it for days.”
I looked at the floor, pretending to remember, and muttered something that I hoped was appropriate. I can’t remember what I said. When our eyes met, I watched her expression change from hurt to anger, then from anger to disgust. I saw myself, and what I had become reflected in her eyes, and suddenly I knew that she knew I was a complete fraud.
She crumpled the paper into a ball and tossed it onto the rug between us. I remember how her hair swirled as she wordlessly spun on her heel and ran from the room. I couldn’t remember the poem, but I still remember her sobs.
I looked around the room, and realized that this was all coming to an end, and damn soon. We were living off sales I had made two and three years ago. There was nothing in the pipeline. I saw things that night that I had never admitted, or faced before. Not only was I a liar, a cheat, and a phony, I understood I was one of the few people in my life who wasn’t already aware of it.
I wanted the world to just stop. If it would do that, for just a little while, I could get myself together, and begin to make all these things right. I didn’t want to drink any more that evening, I really tried hard not to drink, but somehow the glass continued to fill itself. I drank until the pendulum clock on the wall bonged one, then stumbled up the stairs, undressed in the dark and fell into bed. As the room began to spin, I was filled with panic, because I knew I couldn’t face life without alcohol to kill the pain, and yet I knew that I would die if I continued to drink. I saw no third option.
I didn’t put a gun to my head, nor did I continue to drink beyond the next day. Instead, I found door number three. I discovered that there is a life out there that doesn’t require constant alteration of reality. Powerless No Longer is the story of how I discovered that life, and how most addicts discover it either completely on their own, or with minimal help.