For many, the Serenity Prayer is a nice little prayer that most of us say on a daily basis, or at least whenever we attend recovery meetings. We ask for ‘serenity’, ‘wisdom’ and ‘courage’ very nicely and hope that our Higher Power will ‘grant’ it to us. It may seem like a meek, humble prayer, but it doesn’t have to be. I believe it is a prayer of great strength.
When I came to recovery, the first step ‘suggested’ that I admit my powerlessness when it comes to drugs and alcohol. It wasn’t hard to admit. I couldn’t get very far in a day without trying to alter my body chemistry in some way. And for the most part, the rest of the day I was either pursuing more, money to get more, or scheming some way to make it all work. My whole day, hell, my whole being was caught up with my addiction. And once it was in my system, I just wanted more and more and oblivion. The next morning the cycle continued. No, admitting powerlessness wasn’t difficult. Addiction was managing my life; I sure wasn’t.
What I learned when I came into the rooms is that while I might be powerless before alcohol and drugs, I was not helpless. And there’s a big difference that I didn’t see before I arrived. Powerlessness means that while I may once have had power, I have lost that power; I must stand aside and let whatever happens, happen. There is nothing I can do to diminish or stop its progress. Helplessness implies a complete inability to change or react to circumstances. I acted helpless when I arrived. But it wasn’t long before I heard that there were indeed things I could do to maintain my sobriety: stay away from my old haunts, go to meetings, give other members a call, read the literature. I felt at first that it was a daunting task, but I could do something to help myself. Indeed, while I wasn’t fighting it alone, the responsibility to take up the sword and lead the battle against my disease fell to me.
The Serenity Prayer became my battle cry. I claimed the serenity, courage and wisdom and fought my demons. There were many days where I would hop onto my motorcycle and ride, going nowhere in particular, saying the Serenity Prayer over and over and over. And slowly this mantra gave me blessed me with a calmness that would start in my head and filter down to my heart. And I could return to face what I had just ran from.
By working all of the steps, I’ve learned how to deal with situations that before I couldn’t not have handled. I’ve found the serenity to accept, the courage to change and the wisdom to discern. One day I realized that the demons stopped knocking on the my door. Oh, I hold no illusions: I know they are still around, waiting up the street for me to slip up so they can come back with a vengeance. I know that I am still powerless over my addiction and always will be. However, I was not helpless when I first came into the program and I am not helpless today. There is always something that I can do and for me, the Serenity Prayer is my first recourse. Secondly, I still do the five things that were ‘suggested’ to me:
- Don’t drink.
- Go to meetings.
- Get a Home Group.
- Get a Sponsor.
- Work the Steps.
These five things connected me. They connect me to my real self, to others, to the program and to my Higher Power. I never was alone, and now I know I am not alone.
Finally, I am reminded of a reworking of this prayer that also rings true for me:
God, Grant me the Serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the Courage to change the ones I can, and the Wisdom to realize that one is Me.
♥ ♥ ♥
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