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I have been talking to some of my clients and feeling uncomfortable with what has been going on, so I want to share it with you. Hope you don’t mind listening to my concerns, please leave a comment if you wish.

So, my client has picked up again and her sponsor wonders if she is being helpful to her. She saw me first in 2008, was working a recovery program, then left and came back in 2017 at the same weight. So, I asked her about her history in those nine years. What did you do in that time? “Tried every diet and weight loss plan under the sun” she said, “and they all did not work for me for weight loss.”

Listening to her, I know she has a lot of other problems in her life that need attention – now please – but her focus is weight loss. Why does she need to start at Step One again?

Another client called. She has been around the bush a hundred times, tried a whole lot of rehab experiences, and done a whole lot of things. She says, “I can stay abstinent for a little while, then something happens, I don’t know what, and I lose it again”.

The most powerful thing anyone has said to me in a long time: “I am circling the drain; I need your help.”

Suddenly I had a rude awakening. Now I understand, on a really deep level, what powerlessness is. And I always thought it was a bit sad, when you relapse, to have to go back to Step One, and maybe even with a new sponsor.

But now I see it. That’s where the answer is! Acceptance of my powerlessness over my drug is the place I find the freedom to heal.

If we really want to stop eating long term, we need to be absolutely convinced that there are certain foods that our body just can’t tolerate. There must be no reservation of any kind, no hope that someday things will change.

In Philadelphia, SEPTA is having advertisements that say, the train can’t turn away, it takes nearly a mile to stop it; if you don’t want to be hurt, get off the tracks. Somehow, some of us believe that the train will stop for us. It won’t. Accepting the reality that it won’t is what leads us to safety and freedom. And as soon as my clients put down the food, they come face to face with whatever they have been using the food to hide; sometimes they have no clue what it is; some traumas happened before we had words to describe them; sometimes we just do not want to look at or deal with certain other struggles.  And we are usually powerless over some of those things, too.

But powerless is not helpless. Once I get my body off the tracks, I can begin to deal with the rest of the world and its problems. That is why our wise sponsors and programs take us back to Step One. In the powerlessness is where the power is.

“It is only through utter defeat are we able to take our first steps toward liberation and strength. Our admissions (and acceptance) of our personal powerlessness finally turn out to be firm bedrock on which happy and purposeful lives may be built.” (12&12, pg. 21)

Powerless is not helpless; acceptance is not approval; surrender is not  failure.

I don’t know what you will think of this, so please comment below and tell me your truth.



  1. Grace Bucanan September 11, 2017 at 4:10 pm #

    Thank you for this gem!

    • H. Theresa Wright September 12, 2017 at 3:35 pm #

      You are so very welcome! I am glad it is helpful to you.

  2. Tish Turbe September 11, 2017 at 7:20 pm #

    Hi Theresa,

    Love the blog.. Powerless .. Right on time with family and friends in the path of hurricane Irma and other personal issues. Thanks for the reminders !

    Surrender to win !

    • H. Theresa Wright September 12, 2017 at 3:46 pm #

      YES! Surrender is not failure, it is the path to freedom!

  3. Sandra Koenig September 11, 2017 at 10:15 pm #

    This blog is so insightful! Thank you. I gave away a 12 year abstinence about 8 years ago and have been on and off the wagon since. I know it is a Step 1 issue. Always seems like something sabotages it all (probably me). Anyway, I am thrilled that you will be starting on-line classes!! Thank you for this too!. I hope to jump on them as soon as they are announced. Love and hugs!

    • H. Theresa Wright September 12, 2017 at 3:48 pm #

      So sorry you have had so much trouble, and for so long! Would be delighted to have you in the classes, but if you need to talk individually, be welcome to call me. I would want to help you sooner.

  4. Anne Osada September 12, 2017 at 2:02 am #

    I’m getting ready to join OA and reading as much as I can in preparation. Any clarification on the Twelve Steps is appreciated. Thank you for sharing this – it was very helpful to me.

    • H. Theresa Wright September 12, 2017 at 3:52 pm #

      Wonderful. If you call the office tomorrow, I will talk with you about some resources that might help.

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