I spent many years going in and out of recovery. I would go to treatment with a legitimate drive to never touch drugs again but would always discharge and relapse within a month. I would always be so baffled and it would happen so quickly that I felt it was impossible for me to ever get sober. I had wanted it so bad every time and would fail every time, looking back at it now 4 and a half years sober I know exactly what happened, I never truly surrendered.
Throughout my years I have met scores of people just like me, people who’s lives are ravished by drugs and alcohol, they go to treatment completely broken and starving for a new life and willing to do anything to get sober initially. I’ve been asked when first getting into treatment things like, “Are you willing to go to any lengths to get sober? Even if that means moving away from home, quitting a job, ending a relationship?” I would say yes fairly quickly with maybe some reservation. As weeks would go by I would start to feel a lot better than I have in years and enjoying the sober life while in treatment. The problem is when that would happen I would begin to become more resistant to change, rather than listen to the professionals ideas on what I should do after treatment, I would start calling the shots again. I paid lip service to surrendering but my actions showed something much different.
Surrender can have entire books written about it; the idea of it is very deep and radical and can take a lot of convincing for a person. To me, surrendering is letting go of any control and ideas I have of what my life should be and allow guidance from people I trust. The biggest battle an addict will have their entire life is the battle with their mind. The addicts mind is where the disease centers and is the root of all of our troubles and defects. The example I provided with what my experience was displays it perfectly. When I was broken and feeling terrible, I accepted guidance into what I should do after leaving treatment, within a few weeks my mind would start chiming in and call the shots again and I no longer listened to any guidance, I just would go do what I felt I should do and I failed every time that I did that.
I’ll never forget being told, “If you could get sober yourself with your own ideas, don’t you think you would have done it already?” That statement really opened my eyes because I had no defense against it. For 5 years I tried getting sober my way and it never worked. On this last time I came into a treatment facility, I had just lost my father unexpectedly to a heart attack and was completely shattered inside. For whatever reason, probably from getting beat down so much in life over time, I knew in my heart I had to completely stop doing anything my way and simply listen to others who knew what they were doing and talking about. It was my surrender and it was a very powerful yet simple feeling I had in my heart.
I started to begin each morning by surrendering every day, I knew how quickly my mind can take over things and start to call the shots so I kept myself aware of that possibility and did my best every day to take guidance and change anything I could. If I started to come up with crazy ideas I would bring it to someone and they would smash the idea right away, and that always worked! I think what is important with surrender is that you need to truly experience life on your terms and see how futile life is on your terms. Once you see that the only way to go on is to practice new ideas you did not come up with, your life can become to grow instantly.
These past 4 and half years have been the absolute best of my life, I have become a thriving member of society with purpose and great people in my life. I truly never thought that would be possible. I remember thinking for years that it was my sealed fate to always be a loser who could never get it together. That fate lasted only until I completely gave up everything in my life and allowed things outside of my own mind to help and direct me. Please, if you relate to my experience at all, you need to get your hands off the steering wheel and get in the passenger seat, let others who are trying to help you actually help you. It will be the greatest thing you ever do in your life.