I’m and idealist in a practical realist body. Or maybe it’s the other way round. When I first came to Alcoholics Anonymous, Acceptance Was The Answer was quoted as frequently as The Promises. I heard sayings and slogans like, surrender to win, cease fighting anyone and anything (sometimes paraphrased to cease fighting everyone and everything). 

Like so much of what I have learned about my recovery, it’s not a simple keep it simple stupid sort of thing. My recovery is nuanced. My application of steps, slogans, and sayings is sometimes a mix of complicated complexities. I’ve had to fight for my recovery and for that I’m grateful.

Surrendering, from my perspective, would have required me to believe in something and in things that I could not believe. I was forced to try to do that as child growing up Southern Baptist and it was traumatic – some scars and wounds I carry with me still. “..But what happens when vulnerable people are told what to believe?  It damages them…”[1] So no, I won’t surrender, nor  accept just because. I’ve yet to find an easier softer way and I’ll gratefully fight for my sobriety each and every step of the way.


Surrender they say
Accept it you must
(If you want to be free)
Just let yourself believe
But what’s that mean
For at times it does
Sound like so much defeat
Unnecessary defeat
A giving up thing
Before the game begins
But like so much
Of how I see this
And I see that
In my life easy to say
And oft so very very hard to do
What I’ve come to believe
Is that acceptance is seeing
These inescapable truths
Those from which I oft do hide
Surrender is the willingness
To change what I can

[1] It’s Not You,  It’s Them: How Zealots Threaten Your Safety.  David B. Bohl, AA Agnostica, 04/29/20. 

About the Author

Robert B. is a sober alcoholic in Madison, WI participating in AA and AlAnon at Fitchburg Serenity Club. He has been sober since April 21, 2007. He also began writing and sharing poetry on Facebook during his first year sober as part of his recovery from alcohol dependency, acute anxiety and chronic depression. He has found that creativity expressed primarily through writing poetry and playing various stringed instruments helped him heal and thrive.  

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