Addiction, NA, Narcotics Anonymous, Recovery, Spiritual Principles, Twelve Steps

Surrender and Dignity

I often hear in meetings that the notion of surrender was foreign to members when they first entered the rooms of Narcotics Anonymous. The whole idea of surrendering to the program, or to the fact that we are powerless over our disease can be quite a hurdle. After all, the word surrender carries with it so many negative connotations.

My own vision of surrender was not that different from others I hear regularly. I pictured myself in a position of defeated humiliation. From where I sat, surrender seemed like something that would mark the end of my life. I would be fighting off death, laboring to take those final breaths. Speaking my final words to anyone unfortunate enough to have to listen.

Then and only then would I surrender. It would be a bitter moment filled with regret. I would close my eyes, and my only regret would be the lack of more. More time in this life. More opportunities to do what I wanted. More wealth to attain or people to impress.

It was that type of attitude toward surrender that made it a difficult concept to grasp early in my recovery. For a time, that attitude toward surrender prevented any real success in my recovery. Surrender my emergency stash of drugs? I don’t think so. Throw away that dealer’s phone number? Why would I do such a thing?

Those were only two most glaring of matters I failed to surrender early on. I almost wrote “Early on in my recovery.” I stopped myself short on that though. Today, I know that without surrender, there can be no recovery for me. There can be meeting attendance, NA functions too. No recovery though. Not without my surrender.

Holding onto my addiction was much like the deathbed scene described above. I held on to reservations in my program, desperately grasping for something that would allow me to live in both worlds. If only I could find a solution to my addiction without surrendering. Oh, now that would be swell!

Even writing about such thoughts makes me shake my head at myself. There would be no victory over addiction for Kent without taking this requisite step first. Surrender would be required, even by someone so special as me.

The most remarkable part of surrender was that, when it finally came, it was not at all like a deathbed experience. What I had thought would be impossible to bear was, instead, one of the most freeing moments of my life. I could stop fighting. I could end the secrets. I could come out of hiding. I could stop living in constant fear.

Looking in the mirror was becoming less and less painful. Spiritual principles were beginning to replace self-will. My thirst for drugs became a thirst for recovery and a desire to live the kind of life I had always been intended to live. Surrender brought me peace.

I was finally coming to a place where I could live at peace with the world around me. More importantly, I was beginning to find peace with myself. The bitterness and desperation of active addiction were fading.

To my surprise, what I had at first thought would lead to my humiliation actually began to restore my dignity. Keeping my word became important to me again. Not only did I want to be trusted by others, but I also wanted to be trustworthy.

As I continue to surrender, living out the twelve steps of NA, applying spiritual principles to life, and attending meetings, I find that integrity continues to build in my life. Along with it, tangible evidence of growth presents itself in my life.

I wrote yesterday of a house-sitting opportunity Amanda and I had over the weekend. Without going into unnecessary details, it was much more than that. Yesterday, after my morning routine, I realized that much of the anxiety I had been carrying recently had been lifted.

As I reflected on what had made the difference, I came to realize that the weekend had made an incredible impact on my spirit. Not only had I been trusted with responsibility, but I had carried it out in a trustworthy fashion. The dignity I have longed to recover seems to be returning.

Recovery is a journey, not a destination. As such, I realize the significance of this past weekend could easily be lost. To be sure it isn’t, I must continue practicing surrender in my life. As I do, my dignity will continue to grow stronger. I will see myself not as I once was, but who I am today. More importantly, I’ll see myself as the person I am becoming.

Have a remarkable day!

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