There is a stigma in society about surrender, but surrender in recovery has a far different meaning than what most people consider it to be.
When we normally think of surrender, we think of giving up. We think of the boxer not getting off the mat, the person who gives up their dreams after a few setbacks, the French…(kidding).
We tend to think of it as weakness.
When it comes to surrender in recovery, though, surrender is not a step back—it is a step forward. It is a step forward that leads to further steps, both backwards and forwards.
When addicts and alcoholics stay in our disease, we are like the wind-up toys that hit the wall. We move in only one direction, and when that direction is blocked, we have no other choice but to keep moving in that direction. Eventually, the winded gears either run out of tension, or we fall over, and we do not get back up without intervention from someone or something else.
Surrender in recovery is nothing more than recognizing this pattern and making efforts to change it.
We do not even need to know where we want to go, so long as it is not into the same brick wall that we keep hitting time and time again.
Surrender in recovery is being open to the suggestion that there is a different, better way. As some have said, it is, “coming to the winning side.”
It is anything except weakness. It is choosing (in some ways) a more difficult path not just for a better future, but a future.
It is not a one-time deal, either. There will be times in addiction recovery where we have to recognize when something just is not working, and that it is time to change course.
It has been my experience thus far, that there comes a point in every clean and sober addict/alcoholic’s recovery when he or she reverts to a life of self-will. Rarely does the person recognize or mean to make this change, but those around begin to notice it.
In short, the addict/alcoholic proves that he or she cannot manage any aspect of daily life—that their own best thinking is inherently defective, and not just their drinking and using.
Three things happen: a) the person in question gets loaded again, b) the person continues on this path of self-will, which is usually a long and painful one; or c) the addict/alcoholic surrenders again, and embraces recovery in all aspects of life—not just as it applies to drugs and alcohol.
That does not mean that we do not have the power to make the change. We can decide how long we want the pain and misery to last. Sometimes, that can be for quite a long time, but facing this hurdle while clean and sober carries the same solution that brought us to the doors of recovery in the first place. We stop fighting everything and everyone, and become teachable.
We surrender in recovery to stay in the fight.