White flag - Surrender‘Surrender to Win’ was a notion that took me a good deal of time to get my head around in early recovery. Any form of surrender, including admitting that I might have a problem with drink and drugs, was deemed a weakness – in my mind and in the minds of most people I interacted. The perception that was entrenched into my psyche was that to win, you had to be bigger, stronger, more confident, smarter and host of other ego and pride filled drivers that would ensure that I would come out on top in any given situation. I very rarely did, but that didn’t change my attitude.

I would be engaged in a constant war against my fear, my anger, my guilt, and every time I lost, I would look to escape. And what was my most reliable tool for escaping? Drugs and alcohol – a temporary release before battle would once again resume. Although the battles in the war on myself were being lost, every time I got knocked down I would struggle to my feet, battered and bruised, raise my weary arms and go another round with my opponent, which was my illness. I knew no better.

The knockout blow came a while back now, and as I was helped to me feet, desperate, hopeless, and beaten someone whispered in my ear…’Why don’t you surrender to the illness, it’s the only way you can win’. It’s took a whole lot of recovery work, and a good number of weeks, even months, sober but today, it makes complete sense.

In fact, for the past 18 month or so, the first action I take to start any day is to stand in front of a mirror and vocalise to my opponent, ‘I surrender, I can’t beat you be by fighting, but I will use a whole new, recovery tool kit to help me accept my fears, my anger and all other real feelings, to ensure that I accept you as part of me’ – if anyone could hear me they might think I’m deranged but it works for me.

This daily ritual leaves my opponent in the ring to spar with himself. I do still get in the ring with him every so often, my old ego and pride hasn’t been completely extinguished, and we throw a few punches, but I soon come to my senses and climb out before a big punch is landed. This journey is one of progress not perfection after all.

But the residual benefits of surrendering to my illness are incredible. I believe, that as a result I have become a far more understanding, accepting human being, and the serenity that comes with that is priceless. I have become far less judgemental of others, and a lot more open to other people’s point of view, which in turn gives me a much broader and insightful view of the world around me.

Like everything in recovery, it takes time to fully understand the true effects of surrendering I still have so much to learn. So be patient, ask people within your sober community, listen, and implement what you learn into your life, and before too long you will see the benefits….and the benefits are incredible!!

In answer to the question that headlines this article – How can I surrender and win at the same time? – it’s simple. If you focus on surrendering, the wins will look after themselves.