Courage was a foreign concept to me for a very long time.
When I was using, I spent most of my time living in abject fear. Fear of being caught stealing from my family; fear of not being able to get my hands on alcohol and drugs; fear of getting caught in or forgetting one of the dozens of lies I was always telling; fear of everything, really. I was coming to a crisis and I knew it. My using had always been problematic but over the past two years I had completely subjugated my will to King Alcohol and was suffering mightily for it.
Things were spiraling out of control yet I didn't want anything to change. I had lost all my friends. I had no job, no hope and no future. I was living in my parent's house and stealing from my mother to support my habit. An average day for me looked a little like this:
Wake up at 2:00 pm, go get sick in the bathroom. Fall back asleep on my disgusting mattress surrounded by bottles and cans full of butts. Wake up again at 4:00, steal from my mother and go purchase a bottle of booze or, failing that, two quarters of cheap liquor. Spend the rest of the afternoon and evening hoping not to get caught using and stealing, and squirrel away the night watching crappy TV before blacking out. Wake up. Repeat.
What's crazy about the whole thing is that I did not want to change at all. I felt the world had wronged me and I was gonna pay it back in spades by sinking deeper and deeper into alcoholic insanity. I think, though, rooted somewhat farther beneath that, was fear. I was always afraid of life and believed that it was better to choose to fail than fail at succeeding. I had hurt myself and the people who loved me, all because of self-centred fear.
The day I walked through the doors of Hope Trust (for the second time) I was still full of fear. There is a smell in that place that all alumni are familiar with. Of tea, and the smell of remorse, mixed with a scent of hope. I walked in those doors and that smell brought all the memories of my last trip through flooding back into my mind. I felt shame, guilt, and fear because this was the last stop on the road for me. I also was hurting badly because I had believed, like most of the fellas that come through there, that I would never be back as a client again. As reality came crashing down inside me, the fear was killing me.
I could go into a very long and convoluted version of what happened while I was there, but suffice to say that I had a moment of clarity. I realized that my self-will landed me right back where I had been seven years ago. My fear of becoming exactly like every other alcoholic had come true years ago and I was the only person who could not see it.
It was time to surrender. For the first time in a long time, maybe for the first time ever, I turned my will over. I stopped trying to run the darn show and dove in with both feet. I am aware that this is going to be rife with AA clichés; however I am no longer interested in trying to sound cool, so what the hell. For the past 11 months and 12 days (on the day this was written) I have surrendered my will to the program of AA. What that looks like for me is going to 7 meetings a week, doing the aftercare program (at Hope Trust) and staying out of my own way.
Since I decided to give this deal a fair shake I have done everything I can to be teachable and work a solid program. I am active in service, stay in touch with my counsellor, I have a solid group of friends in AA, and I am working the 12 Steps with my sponsor.
Prayer is probably the way I surrender every day. I have a big problem with humbling myself before anyone or anything so for me to say "Thanks" at night and ask for help in the morning is huge. Every morning I read the Just for Today book and the Daily Reflections before asking my Higher Power to help keep me sober.
In 11 short months this program has given me a life I only dreamed of when I was active in addiction. I have returned to college, I take martial arts, I have my family back and I am happy. I owe this all to Hope and AA. Period. My own will is out to destroy me.
I don't know how courageous I am but I do know this: For one brief moment in time something somewhere gave me the courage to surrender. Something somewhere got me out of my own way. I know now for certain there is courage in surrender.
- Written by a recovering alcohlic