Why Acceptance Is a Big Part of Recovery

In sobriety, being “cured” doesn’t play a role. But peace and serenity do.

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Posted in , May 5, 2021

Edward and Gracie

Last week I told you about our devotional booklet for people in recovery and those who love them. I mentioned my own journey in recovery and the gifts it has given me, especially spiritually. I received this note from a reader: “It must be really hard for you to be around alcohol.”

Yeah, I get that a lot. 

After more than 25 years of sobriety I rarely experience the urge to drink, and it has nothing to with the proximity of alcohol. But that doesn’t mean I am “cured.” I will never be cured. And for that, I am grateful.

I got that news like a sock in the jaw from an old-timer at an AA meeting very early in my sobriety. I had shared something with the group the old-timer had apparently taken exception to. I have no recollection of what I said but at that point in my recovery I’m sure it wasn’t nearly as profound as I no doubt thought it was. The old-timer sidled up to me after the meeting.

“You’re never cured, you know,” he said in a voice that could have grated cheese.

I was a little taken aback. “I know,” I said. Before I could expand on my response he bulled on.

“You strike me as someone who thinks he’s going to get cured here. That doesn’t happen.”

The conversation ended there but those words have stayed with me. He was right. I was looking for a cure so perhaps, just maybe, I could someday drink again. It may not have been conscious, but it was lurking within my character defects…my arrogance, my self-deception, my false pride. That, my sponsor said, is why we work the 12 steps. To address the thinking that leads to the drinking. The drinking is a symptom, a deadly symptom for sure, of a disordered thought process one cannot break free of without God. Or at least I couldn’t. 

Which is why one of the things I am most grateful for in sobriety is the fact that I have come to accept that I have an incurable, fatal disease. Accepting that my alcoholism was incurable liberated me from the self-delusion that I could ever go back to drinking “normally.” And let’s be honest. I always drank to get drunk ever since that first sip of Old Grand-Dad whiskey when I was 13. I wanted to feel that way all the time.

Without accepting that I had the fatal—but treatable—disease of incurable alcoholism I would never have experienced the gifts of sobriety. I would never have found a relationship with a God of my understanding and the peace that flows from it. It is that peace, that serenity, that I now want to feel all the time, a day at a time. Thanks to that old-timer.

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