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If you are in the recovery and sobriety circles, you hear about surrender a lot.
I have been sober for nearly five years and have discussed it with nearly everyone I know.
So what is surrendering, to me?
To surrender is to let go of control in your life completely, and let something in the universe or somebody you trust guide you. It means you no longer call the shots—because when you do call the shots it does not go well and your history shows it.
Surrendering is the single hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, and also the greatest thing I have ever done.
My surrender came in May 17, 2015. I had been a drug addict in and out of recovery for the past five years, and my life was in a complete tailspin. Two months prior, I was estranged from my friends and family and holed up in a cheap rented room in South Florida getting high and staying up for days.
Exactly two months prior to my true surrender, March 17th, 2015, I received a call from my mom that my father had died unexpectedly. At 60 years old, he’d had a heart attack—it completely blew me away.
The last time I saw my father was about six months before that, when he had to fire me from his company because I was an awful employee who was not sober. It broke his heart. We didn’t speak for those six months, and then one day, he randomly reached out and we had a deep, meaningful talk about our entire history together.
I am just like my dad in every way—he struggled when he was younger as well, and there will never be anyone who understands me more than him. After that talk, he told me to call him over the weekend and that he was going to play cards with his friends, That was a Friday. On Monday, he had passed.
I will be eternally grateful that we touched base before he passed—if we hadn’t, I don’t think I would have ever forgiven myself for what I had done to him.
I spent the next two months back in my hometown crying myself to sleep every night. On May 16th, my mother called me and said she could get me into inpatient treatment again; I had been trying to get myself into places myself, but that proved to be nearly impossible. I headed to South Florida that night.
The next day, my first day sober, I reflected about a lot of things.
I knew if I wanted to continue my life, I had to honor my father. He’d tried so hard to help me, and I knew I could still make him proud if I created a better life for myself. That was all he wanted in life, for his kids to do well.
It was at that moment that I promised myself: I am no longer doing things my way.
I had tried things my way for the past decade, and they always went terribly. I swore on my father’s honor that I was going to simply listen to others and do as I was told, and if I did that, I knew for a fact things would be okay. And thank God, that is precisely what I did.
An incredible feeling of motivation took over me when I initially surrendered in my heart. I knew I had a shot now because I was going to do things differently, and one day at a time.
Surrender often happens after a lot of pain—unfortunately, pain is ultimately the pathway to peace for many of us. I just hope somebody who reads this—if they are completely broken inside as I was—sees that it is possible to climb out of that seemingly endless bottom.
On May 17, 2015, I wasn’t completely shattered and hopeless inside and because of that, I finally decided to listen and take action. Absolutely anybody can get sober and stay sober—you simply need to take your hands off the steering wheel and surrender.