Imagine the relief and joy of the prisoners in the Nazi death camps when the war ended and they were released from their captors. Some had managed to survive for years in spite of hunger, slave labor and terrible beatings. And suddenly the doors are swung wide open, allowing all prisoners to walk out free… Emancipation!
The prison of attachment and addiction is just as powerful. But there is a difference: The prison of addiction is self imposed. There are no captors like those of a POW camp. Only the imagined forces that exist in our minds.
In any case, we need a strong deliverer, a power greater than ourselves. Once we are locked in the clutches of a powerful addiction we are not going to be able to free ourselves. It will require the help of others (a fellowship), and the enabling of God (our Higher Power).
This freedom comes to us as we acknowledge our part in all of it. We are not to blame for the addiction, but we are responsible for the choices we have made leading up to our demise. It sounds like a cliché, but it’s true: The first step to freedom and recovery is admitting we have a problem. We must admit that we are powerless over our addiction, that our lives have become unmanageable.
The 12 steps are a process in which an addict can (with the help of another) finally ‘let go and let God.’ This act of surrender opens up spiritual doors of our hearts and allows the addict safe passage to freedom and recovery.
Surrender involves three attitudes:
Courage involves letting go of the past. You cannot live in the past – regret, resentment, blame – and expect to know freedom within. The courage of ‘letting go’ is necessary in order to experience the release from the past.
Acceptance means that we learn to embrace the present – our present circumstances. We are finally at a place where we accept our responsibility for how things have played out. We did not get to where we are by accident. Acceptance is necessary if we are to experience spiritual freedom in this present moment.
Trust implies that we have decided to hand over our will and our lives to the care of God. It suggests that we are now leaving our future in the hands of our Higher Power. We can do this because we know that we have no control over any final outcome. And this takes faith and trust.