The Freedom Paradox
To be completely free from the slavery of my addiction, I first had to surrender my freedom. This may seem like a complete contradiction, but as I have found, every recovered alcoholic/addict has been forced to surrender a large degree of control over their lives in order to find the serenity and freedom they now enjoy in sobriety. Strange as it may seem, the act of letting go actually opens more doors. It breaks down the strangle hold that alcoholism has over my mind.
In active addiction, I was a prisoner to my thoughts. Constantly concerned with how I was going to get, plan, executive my next drink, my next high. Even worse was trying to hold out till the afternoon to begin my drinking; thinking every few minutes about time. The mental obsession was debilitating. I was able to get done 10 percent of what I can get done today because the obsession around my drinking was so strong.
So how did I get free of the mental obsession?
It began at in-patient treatment. I was introduced to all the 12-step programs and they all have a common theme. I had to surrender. I had to stop trying to arrange my show to suit my needs, and be willing to do some work. Not just think about doing work around my behavior, my past, actually ACTION. Easier said than done when I’m still in a safe environment in treatment.
I was really put to the test when I left treatment and entered a sober living environment. When I took my boat from dry-dock and splashed it into the sea. When I learned that most sober living facilities have limitations and requirements regarding travel, overnight stays, and meeting attendance, I was extremely irritated – since I had already put together 90+ days of sobriety at a formal treatment center. I couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t just drug test me weekly and then allow me to carry on as any “normal” adult. After all, I am a professional with a law degree, and I was finally back on the road to success! It frustrated me that I couldn’t have more freedom to do what I wanted, when I wanted, without having to tell anyone.
But what I didn’t understand is that it takes much longer than just a few months to build a successful life in sobriety. I needed the structure, and accountability, and the push to do “THE WORK” that I had just barely scratched the surface of the first few months of in-patient. Without the DAILY support of my sponsor (that I still call all the time), my sober living community (that I stayed with for almost a year), and my friends in AA (who I see daily), I honestly can say I could not have done it myself. I needed the guidance of others who have done the work and become free themselves to guide me along.
Little by little, I regained control of my life at the same rate that I gained stability in sobriety. I now recognize when I need to take extra time to pray, attend meetings, or meditate. The tools I use today are tools that have been sharpened over time, with the help of others, to allow me to participate in life’s activities without the fear of relapse or other risky behavior. The obsession has been removed. The one that used to control everything I ever did FOR YEARS. To fully achieve freedom in sobriety, the first thing I had to do was surrender and relinquish control.
By: Dana M. and Zach Rakusin