Letting go of character defects, it turns out, is hard work
Surrender is a very common word and a necessary action in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. This word sounds so absolute and can mean something different to each person who daily attempts, whether successful or not, to let go of the things, thoughts, persons, that ravage their mind and rob them of peace. However, I have found that my experiences coupled with all my character defects makes a full surrender impossible, until I can identify and pull up each root of each defect, one by one. If I am unable to identify the deep roots of whatever requires surrender, how can I truly let go and let God?
The answer is found in the Twelve Steps, and Step One is but the springboard which catapulted me into the depths of my soul, to understand how to be free from the insanity to drink. I myself had almost twenty-one years of sobriety. Nineteen of those years I was poised in the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous and walked through many joyous and difficult times in a dignified and successful manner. However, at nineteen years I began to decline, regress and grow weary of life-on-life terms. I resided in the “blind spot” the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions speaks of in terms of faith, or the lack thereof.
I began to withdraw from the program and all of a sudden took on the cares of all within my area of influence and placed them on my shoulders. Fear was present and my self-will rose up and began to run riot. Resentment, control and all the other earmarks of the disease were common expressions in my daily dealings. I fell deeper and deeper into a tired, weary and exhausted state.
Suddenly the years I had sober meant less and less and carelessness and apathy took root in my soul. Surrender would have been a handy tool in those days; however, I could not see just what to surrender, or how to be free from all that I was thinking and feeling. It was like a ball of rubber bands that are so tightly connected it takes a ton of patience to unravel and see just where the first rubber band is. I had years sober, working the Steps, serving my Higher Power, being a soccer mom, volleyball mom and wife and living life on life terms , but without the program. The quality of my life went slowly and cunningly and bafflingly down the toilet.
And so after 21 years sober, I stopped caring and took a drink. Thank goodness for the moment of clarity my Higher Power allowed me to have, because that drink did not turn into a drunk, nor did I stay out for long. I immediately got back to AA and there I was faced with the work which had to be done to get the ‘me’ back that I had discovered through the Steps.
Which all began with surrender.
Today my first Step is multi-faceted. To drink after two decades of sobriety revealed to me that I had failed to admit how powerless I am over the many things which led me to that first drink. That first Step leads me to surrender, deeply, wholly, and with complete abandon. To investigate the emotions and my part of each resentment, to let go, make amends and be free. The remaining Steps help me enter into the pathology of my soul and cut away all the infected mess that life can cause, thus enabling me to embrace the healthy parts that engender freedom, selflessness and usefulness.
I am approaching my first anniversary, once again, and feel great joy. The Steps have taught me how to truly surrender and live a happy, useful, joyous life. One day at a time.