When one first enters the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, he or she is asked first to surrender – to give up the fight and admit powerlessness and unmanageability over drugs and alcohol. This first step towards recovery is usually one of the most difficult for individuals to fully grasp. Surrender is all too frequently confused with giving up – assumed to exemplify weakness and inability, when truly surrender shows little but great strength. When you are surrendering, you are essentially opening up innumerable doors to new and better ways of life; finally allowing yourself the opportunity to accept and move on. When you give up, you are slamming doors shut, conceding to a struggle that you have deemed too great, but one that would surely present you with great reward if you were to keep trudging along. When you give up, you will likely fall into the pits of despair, feeling incapable and low – when you surrender, you move forward. You are simply saying, “I cannot overcome this obstacle alone.”
The Difference Between Surrendering and Giving Up
“Giving Up”: Ceasing to make an effort; resigning oneself to failure.
“Surrender”: To abandon oneself entirely (to a powerful emotion of influence), to give into.
You can surrender without giving up. Surrendering is accepting that you are powerless, and while you cannot overcome substance dependency while relying solely on yourself, you have the means to conquer active addiction with openness to outside assistance and guidance. Surrendering implies a continued dedication to trying – just no longer trying alone, without much needed outside help from powers equal and greater. Giving up is admitting total defeat, saying to yourself, “I cannot do this, there is no sense in trying. I am destined to a life filled with misery and pain.”
In most cases, acceptance is a step that precedes surrender. In the case of addiction to drugs or alcohol, it is important to first accept that have become physically and mentally reliant on chemical substance, that your life has become unmanageable based on your physical inability to put down the drink or the drug successfully for any prolonged period of time. Once you have accepted that you are not in control of your life any longer, you are wholly able to surrender admitting powerlessness (not defeat) and beginning your journey towards a recovered, joyous, and free life.
Surrendering – The Process of Letting Go
With true surrender will likely come an intense feeling of relief. After months or years or decades of constant struggling to maintain some semblance of normalcy, of undergoing intense physical and emotional pain while attempting to convince your loved ones that everything was in order, you are finally able to let go – to put the problem entirely into someone else’s hands. Surrender is the first step towards a recovered way of life, and will prove nothing but impressive amounts of strength and willingness.