Ken Cannon on Surrender
I find it a phenomenal paradox that, to obtain any true sense of power, I must concede my own powerlessness.
I had a pretty tough childhood. My parents were immature and didn’t really know how to parent, so I effectively raised myself. I was too young to know how to deal with the neglect and emotional traumas I experienced, so I pushed my pain down. But when the pain inevitably surfaced, I did what a lot of people do in that situation and tried to numb it with drugs and alcohol.
I started drinking regularly when I was 14, and I didn’t stop until I was 30. Honestly, I felt it was all working out just fine for me! Alcohol gave me a reprieve from my insecurities and made me feel like I could exist without having to experience any negative emotions. Basically, I survived on alcohol-fueled charisma and sheer self-will.
But in my late 20s, the consequences were starting to mount. I had gotten to the point where I was drinking all day, and I was drinking secretly. Blackouts were a common occurrence. I would drive around town for work with one hand on the steering wheel and one hand on a bottle. I would get to where I was going but have no recollection of how I got there.
The beginning of the end of my drinking occurred after a birthday party. The girl I was dating at the time asked me to deliver a birthday cake to her mom’s surprise party. I had been drinking all day, but I made my way to the bakery. I did deliver the cake to the party, but only after I, somehow, managed to put a huge thumbprint in it. People were furious with me, but I had no recollection of it at all.
I knew I couldn’t keep functioning like this, but the shame that comes with drinking and blackouts can be paralyzing – it is so hard to admit that your way isn’t working. And I say the “beginning of the end of my drinking” because that party was the beginning of knowing something had to change, but it wasn’t the end of the drinking. There were a lot of stops and starts. I would stop drinking for a while and then celebrate that achievement by drinking. Then, I tried to convince myself that hard liquor was the problem, not alcohol in general. But when the year anniversary of having no liquor came around, I decided to celebrate by having friends over for a tequila and taco party. Unfortunately, I decided to have tequila for dinner instead of tacos, and I ended up having a fight with the furniture, embarrassing my friends and myself. Again, I woke up ashamed; but it finally clicked. I couldn’t do it anymore. I had to Surrender.
Surrender was not easy. For more than 10 years, I had worked to prop up the idea that I knew what I was doing and had it all figured out. My old way of coping was not going to go without a fight, and my Surrender would not last without practice.
The early days of my sobriety and my Surrender are kind of a blur. I was gripped by fear, so I didn’t realize that Surrender was what I was doing. The fear was just strong enough to keep me from doing anything else, so I was forced to sit in the quiet with myself; and in the quiet, the answers started to come.
I began the Practice of Surrender when I let go of the lie that I could do it all on my own. I had spent much of my life convincing myself and others that I had it all figured out, and I was carrying so much shame from my childhood and my alcohol abuse that it was hard on my ego to admit that I needed help. I must remember that, just because I’m not in the situation I once was, it doesn’t mean I don’t still need help now. It takes continual Surrender.
Now, not only am I able to look at myself and share who I am with other people, but I can go to those closest to me and ask for input without fear of being rejected, embarrassed, or ashamed.
I had to Surrender the desire to ignore the things that were troubling me. I was so guarded that I didn’t want to know what was going on inside of me, and there was nobody else in the world with whom I wanted to share that part of me. Now, not only am I able to look at myself and share who I am with other people, but I can go to those closest to me and ask for input without fear of being rejected, embarrassed, or ashamed.
I had to Surrender my own will. I like to think that my ideas are right, but I must remember that there is greater Wisdom out there, and I must Surrender to that Wisdom. Prior to my Surrender, I shut out any kind of spiritual connection in my life because the cost of opening that connection seemed too high. As part of this humbling Surrender process, I had to admit that, not only was I wrong about the way I had been handling myself personally, but I may also be wrong about the way I have perceived things spiritually. That was a big shift for me; but the moment that I created space for a spiritual connection, I knew it was real.
As I reap the rewards of Surrender, its Practice continues to be a challenge. I start to think, “Oh, I’ve got this. Look at all this around me. I must be in control.” But that is not the case at all. I find it a phenomenal paradox that, to obtain any true sense of power, I must concede my own powerlessness. Similarly, I cannot keep what I am not willing to give away. If it is peace, serenity, and true power that I seek in my life, I must continually Practice Surrender.
This is Living Hope.