Friday, 17 February 2012

Absolute surrender

One thing that slippers seem to have in common is that they want to drink. Perhaps only 1% of them wants to drink, but that 1% is there, nonetheless.

I slipped for a while in AA, then finally got sober, in 1993. Precisely what happened in my mind over that time and what has happened since, even though it happened in my mind, really is a matter of speculation, but I am fairly confident of the following.

At some point in mid 1993 I decided that I was not very good at dying. I had repeatedly tried and failed to die, even though I felt I wanted to. I gave up trying to die.

At some point in mid 1993 I decided that I was not very good at drinking. I had repeatedly tried and failed to drink, even though I felt I wanted to. I gave up trying to drink.

Drinking still seemed quite appealing, as did death. But at some deep level I gave up wishing I could make either work. I had proved sufficiently that I could not.

I was quite doubtful about whether I would ever be functional, let alone happy, but these matters, although important to me, were no longer factors in whether or not I would live and whether or not I would drink.

I relinquished the right to make any further decision regarding these two matters. In effect, I sentenced myself to life and sentenced myself to sobriety. And, believe you me, it was indeed a sentence. I would live and be sober, come what may, whether or not I functioned, whether or not I was happy.

An odd thing then happened. First of all, I stopped relapsing. Secondly, everything AA had to offer started to actually work to produce both functionality and happiness, albeit in tiny doses, to start with.

To work, commitment to life and sobriety has to be unconditional, i.e. without any reservation in the form of, 'it is worth staying sober as long as X happens and/or Y does not happen'.

I realised that there had been reservations before: I needed AA to work and make me functional and happy before I would decide once and for all to go with life and sobriety. That demand blocked AA and left the door open to drink.

I have had moments and, on occasion, periods lasting months or years since then when I was either functioning poorly or was unhappy. Some of this was just due to growing pains (as there was and is a lot of growing to do). Some of this was due to bad information and bad guidance. A lot of this was due to my own rejection of the solution that was on offer because I knew best.

But at no point did I assume the right to question whether or not I should live and whether or not I should stay sober.

It amazes me at how badly I have 'done' AA at times, often for long periods, and yet not drink. If there is one reason, it is this: with regard to life itself and alcohol, I surrendered if not to God at least to AA's advice to not have the first drink one day at a time.

It is not the will power not to have the first drink that has kept me sober, as I do not have that will power. It is the surrender to this process. Today I see God behind the process; at the start I could not. But God was there all along.

Sobriety starts with absolute surrender. Someone describes this as putting down your weapons and defences and awaiting instructions.

What is next?

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