audio by Peggy H

by Karen R.

 Who cares? That’s the first phrase of page one of Step One in the 12 and 12. Who cares to admit personal powerlessness? No one, of course! Especially in our Western culture where information is power, knowledge is power, money is power — at least that’s what we’re told. So, I love how Bill Wilson refers to personal powerlessness, not general powerlessness. Because we alcoholics have tremendous power if we only know where it is and how to access it.

What could they possibly have in common? They are both sources of power and growth

My experience is that it is harder for women to accept powerlessness than men, because we do so much. We’re mothers and nurses and teachers. We keep house and take care of the kids and make sure dinner’s on the table. “How can I be powerless?” you say. Or, “Don’t you see I’m managing my life just fine, thank you?”

What if you traded “unmanageable” for “unbearable”? As in Step One: I have to take the edge off, can’t not take that first drink and my life has become unbearable. Now that works.

And what about Tiffany lamps and taproots? Personal powerlessness is real and lack of power is my dilemma. Yet there is an abundance of power at my fingertips if I just know where to find it. 

What if you traded “unmanageable” for “unbearable”?

We all know Tiffany lamps are lovely works of art all by themselves. Brightly-colored cut glass shades and bases in Victorian styles are amazing. I can place the light in the center of my table, walk around it and bask in its standalone beauty. Like my sober life, so much better than when I was drinking — no arrests, no fights, things better at home and work — all because of not drinking and doing nothing else. But if I take the lamp’s cord, find an outlet and plug it in? Wowser! The room fills with light and color and the incandescent beauty once I plug into the source of power dazzles me. I discover there’s a three-way bulb. If I’m willing to do a little work and turn up the wattage, I am astounded by the ever-expanding brilliance and beauty. It’s just like my sober life once I find the source of power, plug in and do some work. “Proved beyond doubt by an immense experience, this is one of the facts of A.A. life” (Step One, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, aka 12 and 12, p. 21).

it’s what goes deep

From this single source of power, the entire life is fed

So what about this taproot business? “The principle that we shall find no enduring strength until we first admit complete defeat is the main taproot from which our whole society has sprung and flowered” (12 and 12, p. 22). How many of us have read that sentence without ever really knowing what a taproot is? I am encouraged to look up any word in A.A. literature that I don’t understand. The words are so important. So, not being a master gardener, I looked up taproot. Think of a big round beet and that single long root extending from its bottom. That’s a taproot. Like A.A. and the 12 Steps, it’s what goes deep. From this single source of power, the entire life of the plant is fed. 

Yes, I am personally powerless, but I’m never without tremendous power if I choose to tap into it. All I have to do is remember Tiffany lamps and taproots. Sobriety by itself is surely better than drinking. I plug that beautiful lamp of sobriety into the source of all power, a Higher Power I choose to call God. When I do some work on my steps with a sponsor and let that long deep taproot of A.A. anchor me, baby, I will shine!

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