Holding on is believing that there’s only a past; letting go is knowing that there’s a future.
– Daphne Rose Kingwa
Letting go can be a terrifying notion. What will life look like on the other side? How will I possibly make it through the grief? What if I can’t do it? These thoughts can circle through our minds no matter what we are trying to let go of: alcohol addiction, drug addiction, or any addictive behaviour. When we identify ourselves by these outside factors, letting go can feel like we will be left exposed and gasping for air.
Surrender does not mean that we are giving up and it certainly doesn’t mean there is something wrong with us. Surrender is one of the most beautiful steps we can take. It means we are finally loosening the grip of what we have held so tight, and finally admitting that things are not working the way we so desperately wanted them to work. When we have tried everything in our power to control a situation that is no longer controllable, surrendering may be the next step. Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is exhausting.
A Story of Surrender
Imagine you are a child and you are holding a melting, broken ice cream cone. You are so afraid that ice cream is the only ice cream you can have, so you don’t want to throw it out and let it go. You want to eat it quickly while it continues to crumble. Then, your parent comes over and tells you to give them the cone, that they have something else for you. You still don’t want to hand the cone over. What will my hands feel like without this cone? What if they don’t really have something else waiting for me?
What you can’t see is that your parent is holding a massive, brand new ice cream cone of an even better flavour behind their back. You can’t hold them both at once, so you must surrender the melting cone you have in order to get the better one waiting on the other side.
That is what surrender is like. It is trusting that our future is waiting on the other side of letting go. It is knowing definitively that we are currently doing is no longer working for us. We don’t need to know all of the details yet; we just need to trust that there is the possibility of a better life on the other side.
If you know this is currently not working for you, what do you have to lose by letting go?
If you know that your alcohol or drug addiction is robbing you of what you want from life, why not give sobriety a shot? The life you are living right now will always be there if you don’t find what you are looking for in addiction recovery. My experience is that everything just keeps getting bigger and better; there would be no reason for me to continue staying sober if it didn’t.
Whether it is an alcohol or drug addiction, or anything that is controlling your thoughts, feelings and actions, it is time to surrender.
Have you ever heard the saying, “I was sick and tired of being sick and tired?” That’s certainly how I felt in active addiction. I was holding on so tight to my drug addiction, trying to manage an unmanageable situation. If you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired, surrendering is the first step.
By Danielle McCarron, MSc
Executive Director, GreeneStone Centre for Recovery