verb [ no obj. ]
cease resistance to an enemy or opponent
In the United States, we live in a culture of winners and losers. Our heroes are sports personalities, celebrities, the military, and super-heroes. Our culture teaches us to be self-reliant and to “never give up,” to “fight the good fight,” and to “win.” Surrender is antithetical to our national identity and is not part of our national lexicon.
Only the weak surrender. Surrender is never part of the plan.
On the day that I decided to quit drinking I wrote in my journal that I needed to fight like a warrior against this foe that would ultimately kill me. That sounded good at the time.
That’s what I knew.
I’d been fighting alcoholism for a very long time. In retrospect, possibly for over 20 years. I haven’t decided when I crossed the line of drinking socially to drinking alcoholically. Maybe I went back and forth across it a few times.
I thought that I needed to fight this addiction; that somehow I could win, even though I couldn’t imagine what winning looked like.
I realize now that I was fighting not against the addiction but rather against the idea of sobriety. I couldn’t win a war with alcohol. The true war was within myself.
I was afraid of what a sober life would look like. I was afraid of giving up something that felt like it was a part of me, of missing my drinks, of missing out on fun.
And so I battled against the idea of giving up the drink entirely for years. And it only got worse. I tried to moderate and it only got worse. I went from being a weekly drinker, to being a daily drinker. I went from a few beers, to a half a bottle of bourbon and a few beers, daily. I started to have blackouts.
I’d found a hell from which there seemed to be no way to escape.
There was no way I was going to conquer the booze. The booze had conquered me.
And ultimately, it was going to ruin everything I had in my life. If I continued to drink, I was on a path that would destroy my life; my relationships with my wife and my son, and ultimately me.
So, I surrendered.
I surrendered to the fact that I’m addicted to alcohol, to the fact that my drinking was not normal, and to the fact that if I want to live, I have to do it without the booze. I gave up the fight and acknowledged that I couldn’t drink alcohol.
Addiction never ends well. Death and destruction are universal truths in the story of addiction.
The only way to win the war is to surrender and start living a sober life.