Third in a Series: Surrender and Spirituality
We often focus on the problem of addiction more than the results of a successful recovery. True, sobriety is a wonderful transformation that showcases the beauty of humanity. However, the challenge of achieving long-term sobriety can seem unattainable to those who suffer from addiction. Addiction is a masterful enemy; one that is cunning, baffling, and all-powerful. One who seduces those affected by instilling in them denial of the problem or pessimism about overcoming it. Addiction wants to isolate and control its victims, leading them to push away those who love them, hide addictive behaviors, and, often, die trying to protect the addiction. How many achieve victory over addiction? I don’t think anyone truly knows. Most of us know people who have either died as a result of addiction, those who are still suffering, and those who are working through a rigorous, wonderful recovery program. This blog series will focus on the third group. The first step to overcoming any problem is to acknowledge that there is a problem. The Johari window, an exercise for understanding one’s mental state, separates our psychological makeup into four distinct areas: Open, Blind, Secret (or “Hidden”) and Subconscious (sometimes called “Unknown”). In addiction patients, the Blind and Secret areas are too large. The process of recovery must reduce those areas, allowing the “Open” area to grow and strengthen. The process of becoming more open revolves around both surrendering and accepting help. It takes a willingness to move forward and overcome addiction to fuel surrender, as well as an emotional acceptance of spiritual beliefs. The disease of addiction wants its victim to stay silent rather than ask for help, wants that victim to balk at following the directions of others. Recovery requires conquering the disease and accepting help and direction from others. One reason we need spiritual beliefs in order to recover is to maintain humility. If we put recovering addicts and alcoholics on pedestals to honor their achievements, they may fail because they lose their sense of humility. If you believe in a higher power or in God, you can develop an unconditional, faith-filled relationship through prayer and meditation that will help you lead a positive life. That life is unique to each individual. In my own early recovery, I had issues with God and was afraid for my chances of long-term recovery. Thankfully, those who have achieved long-term sobriety can, and often do, help other addicts. One such person told me that GOD can stand for Good Orderly Direction. This simple shift in thought helped in my personal journey of spiritual surrender, and I developed a deeper relationship with God as a result. My sponsor and I met recently and discussed spiritual warfare as it applies to recovery from addiction. On the negative side, the war is based in fear and perceived character defects or shortcomings. It’s common in recovery to see someone start to get well, only to be challenged as they face of the spiritual battle. Too busy to continue the efforts that helped him or her start to turn their life around, denial starts to creep back into the victim’s life. The fear and defects keep the alcoholic or addict from truly getting to a place of spiritual surrender, and he or she may never reach the promises of recovery. The beauty of truly working the Twelve Steps is that the program addresses all areas of our lives and provides healing for each one. It allows us to be in a place of humility and spiritual surrender. If someone is steadfast during this process, it can create deep connections with God and with others in recovery. This fellowship helps protect individuals from losing the spiritual war and gives them the support they need for long-term sobriety.