Surrender and Freedom
Before I came to AA I did not know I needed to surrender and I had no true idea what freedom was. I just tried to do what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it. Unfortunately, the entire purpose of everyone else seemed to be to make this difficult. In fact everything in life was difficult and alcohol was the only relief that I had from the frustration and pain of living.
‘But the more we fought and tried to have our own way, the worse matters got (BB p.66).’
Eventually I got to a point where alcohol was no longer doing the job of making me feel better, it had become another problem. Despite this I could see no way of stopping and my problems had piled up so that I could see no end but the final one.
Self reliance and alcohol had failed me and I had nothing in reserve. I had to surrender but had no idea how.
I arrived in AA hoping to discover how not to become an alcoholic. I found out that it was a bit late for that and worse, I had an incurable disease which would probably kill me and certainly make the rest of my life an even worse hell than it had been. I thought that I always chose to drink and it was only at the end that I had lost the power of choice. But as I identified with you I saw the progressive nature of my alcoholism and that I had never really had a choice right from the start.
However, I had been offered a temporary sponsor at my first meeting and I started doing a few of the things he suggested, I started to feel a bit better. But I was still going on my thinking. I ‘failed to grasp the seriousness of my condition’ and within a week I was drunk. It was nothing terrible just stupid, but I am grateful for that last drink in showing me that ‘Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point.’ It began to dawn on me the utter hopelessness of my situation.
But, you said, there was a way out. It would require the destruction of self-centredness, giving up on all my old ideas and turning my will and my life over to a Higher Power. So nothing much then! I could see it was working for you but it was no good for me because there was no such thing as God.
Everything hung in the balance at that point. For the first time in my life I had been given the freedom to choose. I think this was the point that I became willing to surrender. I clearly needed someone to show me what to do because I did not have a clue.
I read ‘The Doctors Opinion’ in the Big Book. It told me of the ‘sense of ease and comfort which comes at once by taking a few drinks’ and how the ‘phenomenon of craving’ takes over and that without a ‘psychic change’ I was pretty much doomed. My sponsor showed me how to pray, to maintain a gratitude list, to try and think of others by making phone calls and putting the ‘Just For Today’ card into action. To get involved at my home group by arriving early, helping to set up, cleaning up, meeting for coffee. None of these things came naturally to me but I found it easy when I became willing to surrender my own will.
I had made up my mind to go through with this and my actions showed my sponsor I was ready to take the steps.
At Step 3, I made a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God as I understood Him. My chances of achieving this on my thinking were downright impossible. But I was willing to accept a new way. I felt a great sense of relief. My old ideas about God and a Higher Power were swept away by a need for the thing that I saw others had. I see this as the start of my spiritual awakening. Much of this I can only see from the vantage point of recovery, I was barely aware of some things as they happened
The remaining steps were about surrendering all of my problems and clearing away the wreckage of the past and trying to know God’s will for me and to practice it. I found to my surprise that God wanted me to be happy, joyous and free. Again it is only through putting the principles of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous first in my life and trusting a sponsors’ guidance and that I am likely to get anywhere near that.
In the past I did not have a life, today only through the grace of God, maintaining my surrender and trying to put others before myself I can live easily in freedom and comfort in a world I barely knew existed.
'For we are now on a different basis; the basis of trusting and relying upon God. We trust infinite God rather than our finite selves. We are in the world to play the role He assigns.’Big Book P.68
Chris S, Road to Recovery Group, Plymouth