Sometimes I hear people get balled up about willpower. Willpower will not protect an alcoholic from drinking. That’s why I’ve belonged to AA for 33 years, 27 of them in continuous sobriety. And I should probably correct that. Willpower would not protect this alcoholic from drinking. There are many people who, I hear tell, quit drinking without AA. I can’t say that I’m happy for them, since they are missing the best thing in my life, but I’m glad that if they’re alcoholic, they’re not drinking.
I couldn’t do it. As long as I had a little hope that I could drink successfully, even if alcoholically, I was driven to try, sooner or later. It’s a fact of my alcoholism that once I took a drink, I could not control my drinking or predict the results. Sometimes I was able to stop without getting drunk, or after getting drunk, but at least when I had planned to stop. But much of the time I could not stop when I wanted to or should have, and that’s what makes me say I’m powerless over alcohol.
Now, when I’m sober, I have a choice. It would be an act of my will and a failure of my willpower to pick up a drink. I know that if I do pick up a drink, my power of choice is gone or severely impaired. I can’t choose when or if I will stop. Right now I can choose. As long as I choose not to drink, I retain the ability to choose.
It’s taken willpower for me to work the program, go to meetings down through the decades, read the books, talk to the people. It takes willpower to continue to try to turn my will over to God. There have been a million intermediate steps down the road that I’ve had to take. Time after time I chose not to go to the meeting, not to use the phone, not to read the book, not to fortify my defenses against drinking and dying.
And so those pesky problems other than alcohol. My willpower fails me when I buy too many books or obtain too many pets or eat too much or choose not to exercise. And/or when I choose not to use the tools I have on those problems. That is really it. I don’t practice the principles in all my affairs and so some of my affairs are still unmanageable. And as long or as much as I stay in that state, to be honest with myself, I really haven’t turned my will and my life over to a higher power.