Surrender is the ACTION that an addict or alcoholic takes which culminates in a successful first step experience. We finally succumb to the fact that life lived under our own power is hopeless and futile. Several years ago I was at a speaker meeting in Palm Springs, CA where a man was being given his 40 year sobriety chip. He was a Vietnam War veteran and gave the best description of surrender that I have ever heard. I’ll paraphrase it as best I can in the follow way. When in battle and the enemy was surrendering to US forces, the soldiers under his company would commonly command the enemy to kneel down, lay their weapons on the ground in front of them and put their hands in the air. The enemy soldiers then waited to be told what to do. If the enemy resisted in any way it often ended with a greater show of force or even death.
I was shocked to hear him speak of this process so calmly. As he went on his explanation made incredible sense to me. As addicts/alcoholics we are battling a disease that will kill us. The longer we continue to fight, the greater the odds that we will die. This effect extends to those that love us and they are being held hostage by this same cunning foe. If we are true alcoholics/addicts the only way to survive is to surrender. This requires the action of laying down our “weapons” and metaphorically (or literally) lifting our hands to the air and waiting for someone to tell us what to do. The weapons we possess, aside from the obvious consumption of drugs and alcohol, are the faulty belief systems and perceptions that we hang on to. We commonly hear “some of us tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely.” Once this happens, the real work can be done and the benefits and joy of recovery can be experienced.