Surrender is a concept that’s hard for me to grasp sometimes. Before I made the decision to get sober, the concept of surrender was foreign to me.
Work isn’t going the way I want it to – drink. My sister isn’t taking my well-intentioned advice – drink. Life just sucks period – drink.
The thought never crossed my mind that I was the problem. Or, maybe my outlook on whatever was going on at the time might need a change. It was always someone else’s behavior that was causing my upset. Consequently, I drank to cover up those feelings.
Of course, that only lasted so long. As time went on I needed more and more alcohol to cover up those feelings of dis-ease. What only bothered me a little one day would cause me to fly off the handle the next day. I was becoming more and more dependent on alcohol, constantly chasing relief from my feelings.
Then, in some ways a blessing, and other days a seeming curse, I hit my bottom and surrendered. I was depressed all the time, usually crying myself to sleep. Blacking out. Waking up the next morning wondering who I called, what I said, or what I had posted on Facebook. Hoping it wasn’t anything bad because I couldn’t remember.
Paralyzed by fear that I would black out the next night and decide to drive somewhere, and get in an accident. Fear that I would lose my job. Fear that this time I might have the courage to go through with killing myself.
That’s when I finally said enough is enough. I reached outside of myself and asked for help –I surrendered.
After I had been sober a few days, and the fog started lifting, life was good. I was smiling because life started to seem brighter. I hit the pink cloud.
It wasn’t long before reality hit me square in the face. All those feelings I was trying to drown for so long started surfacing.
But now I had tools to use in those times. I said the serenity prayer as a mantra some days. Prayed like there was no tomorrow. Texted my new-found friends asking for help. And went to meetings. Lots of meetings.
As time went on, things started getting easier. Those feelings that were so open and raw when I first got sober weren’t so raw anymore. After some work with the steps my ego was starting to become right-sized again. Life was becoming manageable.
Sometimes, on other days, my sobriety felt like a curse. I wondered why I was staying sober. But thankfully, I had learned humility. I could ask for help, or reach out and help someone else. I surrendered once again.
Then, all the sudden, the obsession was gone. I wasn’t going through each day fighting to stay away from that first drink. I forgot the hell I went through just a few short months prior. I started taking my sobriety, and help from my Higher Power, for granted.
I was going to meetings, but service work didn’t feel like giving anymore. My once nightly inventory went by the wayside because life was grand.
Slowly but surely my ego was growing, and without realizing it, I was taking back the reigns of my life. Decisions once made after asking my Higher Power for direction went out the window. Decisions made on a whim became the norm.
After about a year sober I started thinking to myself “I’m a recovered alcoholic”. Of course, that didn’t last for too long because life happened. Something would catch me off guard and I wouldn’t be acting so “recovered” anymore.
I had many days when my ego got the best of me. I also had quite a few mental relapses that almost got the best of me. But, by the grace of my Higher Power, I stayed sober through those days. I know I didn’t do it alone.
In October of 2015, when I was 1 year and 9 months sober, I hit my bottom in sobriety. Thoughts of suicide stayed with me off and on prior to that time, but now the thoughts were overwhelming. I remember driving to my meeting that day thinking “I really don’t care if I live or die.” I was hoping a car would hit me so I wouldn’t have to feel that way anymore.
But, with my messed-up thinking, I didn’t reach out for help about these thoughts. I thought reaching out for help would make me weak.
Thankfully my Higher Power was looking out for me that day. I received the courage I needed to talk to someone at the meeting. I told them how I was feeling. That I didn’t know how much longer I could go on like that. And, I was really struggling.
Up until that point I had half-way surrendered. I said “Ok God, you can have this much of me, but I’m keeping the rest”.
Of course, it doesn’t work that way. If I am to fully give myself to the 12 steps, work them to the best of my ability, then I must surrender completely.
“Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. We asked His protection and care with complete abandon.” – Alcoholics Anonymous, Pg. 59.
If I’m going to have a life of pure sobriety, not just sober, I must abandon myself completely. I must surrender, and concede to my inner most self (gut level), that I am an alcoholic. I must also admit my life is unmanageable.
That’s the only way this thing works. I must smash my ego repeatedly by continuing to work the Steps, over and over. I must surrender myself to the care of my Higher Power daily if I am to be happy, joyous, and free.
Today I am no longer an empty shell of misery and depression. By emptying myself of all the bad, I am filled up with gifts immeasurable. Today I am truly free.
Originally published Sep 28, 2016 – medium.com