One of the many prayers used in the rooms of recovery is the Serenity Prayer. In this monumental prayer is the line asking for God to Grant us the Serenity to “Accept the Things I Cannot Change..”. Acceptance can be an easy thing to understand but not an easy thing to do. Acceptance can be an extremely difficult task through the eyes of those who suffer from alcohol and substance abuse. Although difficult, this does not mean it cannot be done, for the countless people who are living sober lives today, they serve as proof to us all that its possible.
“Live & Let Live” “Easy does it” “Life on life’s terms”, all of these one liners you hear throughout the rooms and from the people who came before us all have one thing in common, they all have a foundation derived from the idea of acceptance. In a more simplified way of saying things, acceptance is our basic foundation in the steps to recovery and our freedom from alcohol and drugs. Without acceptance there will be no growth, no progress, no sobriety. Until we come to the place where we can accept ourselves as who we are and what we are(those who suffer from alcohol and substance abuse disorder), we have little to no chance. How many of us have told ourselves “I’m going to control it this time” or “I can still drink a little bit”, these things we tell ourselves is our lack of willingness to accept who and what we are.
If your like myself, when I first entered treatment I was told to accept that I am powerless over drugs and alcohol and that my life is unmanageable. When I first was told this, my initial reaction was “No way, not me”, “I got this, things just got a little out of control, but no way am I powerless over that first drink or drug”. I look back on my thinking and realize that I was full of pride, stuck in denial and living through my ego. I thought I was different from everyone and instead of looking at the similarities I prided myself in convincing myself how different I was from everyone. I had to learn the hard way. The longer I waited to accept that I couldn’t drink or use like ‘others’, the more I let my life, my values and my self-worth go down the drain. It was in the depths of my darkness where I found acceptance that I could no longer manage this life and that after I took that first drink or drug, my choice to take the second was no longer an option. It wasn’t until I accepted my circumstances and who I was as a person, that the progress and the process of change could begin for me. I’ve learned that sometimes things don’t always need to be understood, some things aren’t meant to be understood but are simply to be accepted. For so long I wanted to control everything, I wanted things my way, I was always swimming against the stream. It was so exhausting to live my life this way but I just didn’t know any other way. When I hit my bottom, that’s when I started working with suggestion and advice, not always going against it. Having the belief that there was something bigger than myself at work, helped remind me that things will be ok and will eventually work out, as long as I continued to do the right thing. When I find some person, place or situation – some fact in my life unacceptable, I find serenity in acceptance. With Serenity, I find true happiness, With happiness, I find purpose and With purpose I find My True Self.