Surrender results in a change in perception. We realize that our selfish, self-centered addictions, afflictions and compulsive behaviors have cut us off from God and have left us in a dark, lonely prison of hopelessness and despair. -Wally P., Back to the Basics of Recovery, 1999
For most of my life the biggest road block to my recovery from sex, love, and pornography addiction was looking me straight in the mirror. In the height of my acting out, my life centered around what I wanted, when I wanted it, and with whom I wanted it. I had little concern over the consequences of my actions or the emotional impact such behaviors might have on others. All I remember is the powerful sense of urgency - yes hunger - to fill that void deep within. A longing inevitably followed by the cycle of shame, guilt, and self hatred.
My recovery began once my perspective changed.
I went from looking in the mirror to looking inside. What a frightening and beautiful exploration! When I came to see myself for who I really was - a flawed, imperfect human being - it became much easier to surrender to the reality that there is a God and I am not He, She or It! I began to realize, as I worked the 12 Step Program of Recovery, that my self will and ego resulted in a bottleneck of spiritual power. The inner work required by my program allowed me to move out of denial and into reality. I could no longer pretend to be something I was not.
Steps One, Two and Three required me to not only admit I was powerless but to embrace it as well. Those are two very different things. One was a mental exercise (which I had conducted each time I quit my addiction) and the other was an act of the heart. It was the desperate surrender of a drowning man who had to accept that continuing to do things my way would not end well.
As I recover, I choose to lean into my powerlessness, knowing that the more I embrace it, the stronger my recovery grows. Embracing my powerlessness is surrendering to the reality that my best effort to manage my life endangered my family, brought about my divorce, left me unemployed, arrested, and publicly shamed. But in doing so I exercised the courage to reclaim the power which I allowed my addiction to steal from me. As strange as it may seem, accepting my limitations laid a foundation upon which to build my new recovery life.
The embrace of powerlessness brought the gift of faith into the life of a once life-long evangelical. Surrender allowed a shift from “hunger” to “hope” to occur and has become a day by day (minute by minute) work of the spirit. Today I am able to see that surrender does not imply that I am a loser. Rather, as one person in recovery once said, “Surrender just means you are smart enough to join the winning team.” -Shane M.