Surrender: Process or Event?
Another topic that comes up a lot in 12-step meetings is the concept of surrendering. If you cannot surrender to your addiction, you cannot recover from it. It seems simple enough, but for me, this has been a very hard idea to grasp.
There is also debate within the program about whether surrender is an event or a process, although the general consensus is that it varies for each individual. I have heard countless tales from people for whom surrender was an event… a moment in their lives where they knew they were powerless over their addiction, and they had to rely on a power greater than themselves in order to recover.
For me, surrendering is absolutely a process, not an event. In looking back over the past 12 months, absolutely nothing stands out as a light bulb moment. Rather, there were many lightbulb moments that I chose to ignore and continue on in my addiction.
I tried for months to get clean and sober, to no avail. I would think, resentfully, “I’m doing every single thing they are telling me to do… I go to meetings, I get on my knees and pray, I talk to my sponsor, I share in meetings… why do I continue to use? Why has the obsession not been lifted?”
I am certain that there are people who would look at my life, and point to different events that have occurred and say that is why you are clean and sober. For example, someone might say that being forced to live apart from your children is what got your act together. Or someone might think that fear of the loss of my marriage is what finally got me clean and sober.
And no doubt about it, those events absolutely contributed to the process of recovery. But I had things that were just as demoralizing that happened to me prior to this time around, and they did not keep me from relapsing.
What I have concluded was different for me this time around is that I truly believe that I was all out of moves. Any of the previous times I tried to remain clean and sober I knew in the back of my mind that I could still win at the game, that there was one strategy I had not tried, one way I could figure out that would lead me to success in addiction. And each time, the results were the same. But this time… I really, truly, deep within myself, had to admit defeat. And that is when getting down on my knees meant something. That is when I started really listening to my sponsor, and at meetings. That is when the miracles really started happening, and continue happening…