Ever since I started trying to get sober, I have struggled. I’ve fought hard against the urge to drink and use, mustering every ounce of willpower in my being.
It’s not just the effort I make to drive the long way home to avoid driving past liquor stores. It’s not just the extra mile I walk in the grocery store to avoid the wine and beer section.
It’s the gritting of my teeth and setting of my jaw in the morning. The declaration that “Today, I will stay sober no matter what.” It’s the edge I feel in the pit of my stomach, which is the knowledge that any moment I might slip. It’s the constantly being on guard against all my thoughts and feelings and fighting, fighting, fighting for every moment of sobriety.
What did all this fighting get me?
Eventually, it got me a relapse.
It wasn’t that what I was doing was bad for me. In fact, during the first few days of my sobriety, it was extremely important that I avoid liquor stores – it seemed my car automatically drove into their parking lots. And for some reason, if I wandered too close to the wine in the grocery store, a magnum or two would magically appear in my cart!
Fighting to change my habits in the beginning was a good thing. It was the rest of the fighting that was a problem…
The problem was my dependence on my own willpower. The problem is still my dependence on my ability to fight for myself and my utter unwillingness to talk about my struggle – after all, I respect the first rule of Fight Club.
On pages 84 and 85 of the Big Book of AA, it says this:
And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone – even alcohol. For by this time sanity will have returned. We will seldom be interested in liquor. If tempted, we recoil from it as from a hot flame. We react sanely and normally, and we will find that this has happened automatically. We will see that our new attitude toward liquor has been given us without any thought or effort on our part. It just comes! That is the miracle of it. We are not fighting it, neither are we avoiding temptation. We feel as though we had been placed in a position of neutrality – safe and protected. We have not even sworn off. Instead, the problem has been removed. It does not exist for us. We are neither cocky nor are we afraid. That is our experience. That is how we react so long as we keep in fit spiritual condition.
We read this passage in a meeting I went to yesterday. I found myself sitting there, incredulous as I listened to the experience, strength, and hope of others.
What a thing it would be to stop fighting! If only I could reach that sacred place of peace. If only that miracle would happen to me. If only I understood what “fit spiritual condition” meant. Because I am afraid – very afraid – that I will drink again.
As I listened, I realized that others in the group still fought. They still struggled with daily temptations. Perhaps they weren’t obsessing about drinking/drugging like I was, but they still had to work to maintain their sobriety.
They still had to come to meetings. They still had to call their sponsors and other people in sobriety. They still had to talk about things that were bothering them so they wouldn’t become things to get drunk over. They still had to work to maintain “fit spiritual condition.”
There are daily things I’m supposed to be doing – things like praying to my Higher Power to lift the obsession from me. I haven’t been doing that, I think, because some part of me (probably a large part of me) still thinks I’ve got this under control. I still think I can handle this myself. I’m still fighting.
All I have to do is look back on my last few drunks to know that I can’t handle this myself. If I can remember the pain I was in that night in the hotel room, when all I wanted to do was die… If I can remember the horrible feelings of guilt and shame, knowing I had disappointed my husband again… Surely I won’t drink again!
But I’ve had many lonely, drunk nights when I swore I was done, only to drink again the next day. I have proven to myself, over and over, that this problem is bigger than me.
Victory lies in turning everything over to my Higher Power. Victory will happen when I give up completely – when I stop trying to fight based on my own willpower and start fighting using the grace and strength of my Higher Power.
There’s no doubt in my mind that sobriety is a fight. I am locked in a death match with my addiction. The only way to win is to give everything up and let my Higher Power fight for me.
Victory is mine when I give up the fight.