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

Surrender and Sleep

My brother John and I went through a phase growing up where we would try to stay up as late as possible on weekends. Our parents enjoyed sleeping in, so I think it played well into their desire to get some extra shut-eye on Saturday mornings too.

Looking back, I cannot imagine what enticed us about staying up until all hours of the morning. Especially given the fact that back then, the four or five (depending on atmospheric conditions) television stations we received on our tv all signed off by 1:00 a.m. or so.

Together, the two of us would watch a locally produced show called “Creature Features.” It would feature an old horror movie featuring monsters, vampires, and or werewolves. I cannot speak for John, but my tolerance for fear is very low, so these movies would help prep me for a long night without sleep. It was easier to stay awake than to risk a nightmare inspired by one of these monsters!

After television was no longer an option, we would settle in for a game of Monopoly, or perhaps Risk. John has always had a great mind for strategy, and beat me almost every time we played. Despite my losing streak, I was happy to play, since doing so helped me avoid sleep and therefore, avoid nightmares.

I can only recall a handful of times we actually made it through the night. Success was declared if we saw the sunrise in the morning without succumbing to sleep. On most of these nights, however, sleep would eventually win out. Exhaustion proved stronger than our determination to earn bragging rights for having pulled an all-nighter.

When we could take no more, we surrendered.

That’s a familiar concept to those of us in recovery. It sums up the experience each of us has as we hit bottom in our drug use.

Today, I love my sleep. It’s funny because Amanda, Shaun, and I each share this in common. Wednesday night’s fireworks display was a great example of our common love of sleep. All day, Shaun had been in countdown mode. “How many hours until fireworks?” That was his question throughout the day.

Our plan was to watch from our balcony. It turned out to be the ideal spot from which to watch. However, because of our late sunsets in Tulsa, it was after 9:30 before the action began.

Technically, the fireworks are hosted by the city of Jenks, OK. This small town is right across the Arkansas River from us, and boy do they know how to put on a show. The barrage of pyrotechnics continued longer than one would expect, and finally, Shaun had had enough. He looked at his mommy and me and said, “Well, I think I’ll go to bed now.”

Yes, in the middle of all the action. In the middle of the fireworks he’d spent the day counting down for, Shaun plodded off to bed. He was officially done!

I hit a similar brick wall last night. I spent my night in Wichita last night for work. The hotel I stay at when in town sits on a small lake and is part of an upscale retail district. They had a fireworks show last night. From my room overlooking the lake, I had a bird’s eye view of the concert and fireworks. It was, without a doubt, the most fantastic fireworks show I’ve ever seen!

Like Shaun on the previous night though, I’d had enough of being awake. I was on a video chat with Amanda throughout most of the show. As soon as it ended, I told her I had to call it a night. Sleep came quickly…

Surrender has so many applications in my life today. It goes way beyond surrendering to the fact that I cannot successfully use drugs. Today, surrender includes little things, like turning out the lights and going to sleep when I’m tired. Surrender means leaving the comforts of home when my work requires it. Surrender even means letting Shaun go to bed in the middle of fireworks that he’s been looking forward to all day long.

I’m grateful that I’m learning to practice surrender. It used to be accompanied by fear, like those nightmares after “Creature Features.” Not knowing what to expect from surrender, I held out. I put off the inevitable for as long as possible.

Unlike sleep after “Creature Features,” surrender in my recovery brought no nightmares. Instead, surrender brought me peace. It brought me rest. It brought me a spiritual awakening and new way of life.

Have a remarkable day!

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