I talk with folks all the time who conceptualize recovery as an ongoing battle. Depending on your perspective it may sound sexy to be in a fight for your life every day. To me it just sounds exhausting.
Those I’ve known with the most success say, “Surrender to win.”
Recovery is a progression of letting go of things we thought we wanted. It starts with giving up the thing we once loved and now hate – our drug. We do not surrender to a program or a person. We surrender to a power greater than ourselves, in acknowledgment that freedom and transformation are more than we can achieve alone.
“Admitted we were powerless over alcohol (other drugs, other addictions) and that our lives had become unmanageable.” Step One of Alcoholics Anonymous
Surrender is not a once and for all process. It can be episodic, daily, hourly, or even minute to minute. It’s an admission that we cannot be in control when we use and that we risk losing everything good in our lives if we continue to use. It’s simple honesty, the importance of which cannot be overstated for one vital reason:
We have to lie to ourselves before we can relapse.
Speaking the truth is powerful. Saying things makes them more real. Saying it even to yourself is confrontational and powerful. Say it to a God of your choosing if you have one. Say it to a stranger. Confide it in a loved one’s care. Tell everyone in a meeting and let them affirm both you and your choice.
Just say it.
I met with a young man recently who was going to be confronted by three different opportunities to do drugs that day. He spoke desperately of his struggle to resist but told me he’d go to any lengths to not use today. I told him to sing at the top of his lungs. He looked at me like I was nuts (not entirely unwarranted) but asked me what to sing?
“I’m not doin’ any drugs today!”
I love my Higher Power for moments like these. Inspired. Simple. Powerful. Whatever the f@ck it takes. I love stuff that works. If it gets you through the day and it hurts no one, then do that shit. Better yet, do it in the company of other like minded, wonderfully crazy people (best kind).
There’s an expression in recovery that urges us to “Hang with the winners.” The winners are those who are willing to go to any lengths to stay sober and continue to heal, learn, and grow. That’s it.
Winners are not determined by conventional social standards. It’s not important what you do for a living or how much money you have. It’s important that we stay sober and support others in doing so. The only way to keep it is to give it away.