Why Do “Big Boys” Have Trouble Admitting Powerlessness?
Posted Mar 15 2012 10:12am
The following is a guest post from Ken P., Bob T. and Scott B. They included this introduction with their post: We are three men from Texas with collectively over 50 years in Al-Anon, a 12-step program for those living with an alcoholic. This is a totally unique situation. Even today, only 16% of Al-Anons are men. We wrote this post the day before Halloween in 2007 without the slightest thought that so many would read it. It is accounting for about 11% of the “hits” on our blog now, which has more than 140 posts, so it is obvious that men REALLY DO have trouble admitting powerlessness! Please help us help many other men by forwarding this post to any man you know who would find it sooooooo difficult to admit powerlessness over anything! Many thanks, Ken P., Bob T., and Scott B.
Why Do “Big Boys” Have Trouble Admitting Powerlessness? by Ken P., Bob T., and Scott B.
The reality of the culture in America today is that men are treated differently from women, starting in early childhood. We are taught the value of self-sufficiency. Throughout our childhoods we are in millions of subtle ways told that we are to be “big boys.”
One aside needs to happen here. There is a profound generational distinction that needs to be made. Men born before about 1950 have much greater difficulty surrendering to the disease of alcoholism. We were raised by fathers who knew first hand the experiences of the Great Depression and WWII. These men lived through circumstances that forced them to mature to self-sufficiency very early, and therefore they had little sympathy for “cry-babies.” A man does not do the following: cry, complain, ask for help, admit defeat, or quit…ever.
12-step programs like AA and Al-Anon require a level of honesty and humility that are so absolutely the opposite of our upbringing. The very first step (below) requires admission of powerlessness over our addiction, and that it is TERRIBLY difficult for most men.
Because of this early conditioning, after all of the “John Wayne” modeling, any man taking the first step has to have reached a bottom that has ripped all personal self esteem from him. The first step says:
“We admitted that we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable.”
I have sponsored many men during the years, and I can tell you that these men tried everything imaginable to either handle their own alcoholism, and/or to “manage” an alcoholic wife (or maybe the alcoholic was a son or a daughter or a mother or a father).
These guys spent sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars on treatment centers, begged and pleaded, sought out countless counselors, called the police, and hauled their wives, daughters and sons to the offices of one physician after another as their bodies deteriorated from the inexorably slow physical and mental decline caused by swallowing alcohol.
If you are such a man, or know one, just direct him to AA or Al-Anon. There, this “Man’s Man” will learn to listen, contemplate, accept help, grow, and overcome his early conditioning. We guarantee that he will not become less manly!
Call: 1-888-4AL-ANON or access: AA is always in the front of every phone book, and the program is all over the net.