Surrender is that moment when we realize and acknowledge to our innermost selves that we cannot stop drinking, that the option to “not drink” has been removed, that will power and desire to stop drinking have no effect to change our behavior. We may use different internal and external words like “I need help” or “I cannot do this anymore” or “I’m through living in this hell.” Before surrender, our life is one of attempts to manage and control our drinking and everything else in our life. These efforts are futile. But it may take us many years to realize the reality of that statement. Negative consequences are usually rationalized away or ignored so that we can shift our attention to our “go to,” to alcohol. Alcohol seems to be the answer to every situation in our lives: anxiety, sadness, relief, joy, celebration, feeling down… The mental preoccupation with alcohol can only be understood by an alcoholic. In the back of one’s mind is always the thought “do I have enough alcohol on hand for today” or “when can I take my next drink” or “I need more.” Life seems to be lived in a hurry to get to the reward, to “get to the next drink.” I’m sure some of you know what I’m talking about.
Surrender is our moment of release from the powerful hold alcohol has over us. It is a moment of sanity and humility: we realize we do not have the answer to our lives, that our best efforts have left us broken, ashamed, humiliated, and defeated. Yet it is exactly in this moment that we are released and begin to feel the freedom from alcohol. We begin to learn how to live a completely new life. We “let go” and “let God.”
Gradually surrender becomes a daily practice. Many of us start the day with the Third Step Prayer, I offer myself to Thee, to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt… We learn to pause when agitated; to stop our automatic response to a situation, relax, and find our soul’s integrity. We look for opportunities to serve others in and outside of AA. Our life has a new meaning. This is the gift of sobriety.