In active addiction we are unavailable.
What this means is that, for a host of reasons, we become less and less committed – more and more unavailable – to things that give life. We become unavailable to family, friends, partners, etc. We become unavailable to others, ourselves and God, despite how available and committed they may remain to us.
Our rapidly vanishing availability to these life-giving things is paralleled by a cancerous growth in availability to all kinds of little, lesser, life-taking things. We make ourselves available to alcohol, work, sexual intrigue in thousands of forms, etc. We abandon our lives for another ‘hit’.
Beneath this tragic degradation of our commitments, is a failure or refusal to allow ourselves to receive love and life. We don’t feel ‘enough’ to deserve love, so we abandon it for a ‘hit’. And in the context of the addiction cycle, the low that follows a ‘hit’ only makes us feel less worthy of love – less able to be committed – or available – to it.
Step 3 speaks of handing our will and our lives over to the “care of God”. Within the “care of God”, we discover that we are ‘enough’ to deserve love. We are made worthy of love, because God “cares” for us, even amidst all our frailties, rebellion and hard-hardheartedness.
In recovery, we learn to abandon the addictions that kill, rob and destroy. We simply become unavailable to them. And – rather than swap one addiction for another – we learn to pursue and accept the life and love from those people and activities which give it.
We become available to life.
I’ve written before about how quality recovery is characterised by simple actions, and addiction is characterised by complex thinking. In this post I want to add just one more important thing.
This simple action needs to happen as early as possible.
Before entering recovery, I can remember acting delaying any healthy ‘simple action’ too long… too often it was delayed until it was too late. Even after joining a 12-step program, I would delay action. Here’s an example…
In working step 3, I remember my sponsor asking me, toward the end of our monthly meet up, “So… are you ready to make that decision to turn your will and life over to God’s care?” My brain immediately got in the way. Complex thoughts and questions and curiosities choked out any chance of a simple, active and affirmative response. “Well…”, I muttered out… hesitatingly, “my understanding is that this is a decision that nobody can make perfectly, so we make it as best we can and we have to keep making it as we live our lives.”
This response was too muddy, too heady, and too hesitant. Prolonged, complex thinking.
My sponsor eventually was able to point out that the answer to these questions should always and instantly be “YES.” At least then, we have handed our will and life over for at least a few seconds!
The point here is not do invalidate the observation which every addict learns, namely that we must learn to accept progress not perfection. Of course, we never do anything perfectly. But that’s kind of the point. We don’t need a ‘perfect’ surrender. We also don’t need a perfect explanation of why such perfection can’t be attained. We certainly don’t need an extended, complicated treatise on the matter.
The only kind of surrender we need…
is the only kind we can give…
…an early, simple and active one.