Surrender to Win

Time to get real. People close to me know that I have suffered for years with the disease of alcohol. 

Struggling to Surrender

It was incredibly difficult for me to label myself an alcoholic. I just would not surrender to it. I used twelve-step programs like a revolving door. I knew from an early age that I had a problem, I just wasn’t sure what it was. I was so angry and rebellious in my teens. By the age of eighteen, I was arrested twice and put in jail. I still would not surrender that alcohol was making my life worse. I white-knuckled it for years, literally holding on for dear life. 

I did not always drink, and I could go days or months without doing so, so I was somewhat baffled when I finally decided to surrender once and for all. Many people would tell me, “Deb, you are not an alcoholic,” and that would confuse me even more. Deep down I knew the truth. That is all that matters today. 

What My Struggle Looked Like

Here is how drinking has looked for me. In my twenties, it was funny to be reminded of the crazy stuff I did the night before. In retrospect, it was never funny and I never felt good about blacking out. It wasn’t funny when I was arrested for drunk driving when I was eighteen. 

My drinking mellowed when I got pregnant with my first child. In my thirties, I occasionally drank, but when I did, it felt like I binged drank and I would still black out. It never mattered how much I drank; I always would black out. 

My forties progressed badly. Alcohol became a relationship for me. It became medicine to cope with all the past trauma that was coming up. I was having flashbacks and what I can now see as posttraumatic stress. I did not know what it was or why I was experiencing it on such a deep level. I had a very serious nervous breakdown and ended up on suicide watch and then in rehab for serious depression. 

I spent two months in rehab learning about the disease of alcohol. While there, I thought I got “fixed”—seriously. I looked around and said to myself, “I am not like this, it isn’t this bad!” So I left rehab with less of a desire to drink. But my sobriety did not last long, less than one year. I was back to white-knuckling it again. 

Internal Struggle

For anyone who suffers with addiction or trauma, white-knuckling means that it becomes like an obsession. Part of the brain says, “You got this,” and the other part knows how it will look afterward—the sick and tired feeling of being sick and tired. That is white-knuckling, holding onto old ideas, holding on for dear life, and letting the ego run the show.

In other parts of my life, I have nonnegotiables, things I just do not let slide. But with drinking, it was a constant battle of negotiation until one morning at 2 a.m. I woke up and said, “ I surrender.” Everything is now changing. Enough is enough. Since that 2 a.m. wake-up call, I have had a few slips of my ego trying to take back control. 


This time I am relentless to stay on this path. I am in recovery, and it is a practice every single day. I have surrendered to win! Surrendering does not mean I failed. I am very allergic to alcohol. It is not my friend anymore, and it never was. With alcohol, I do and say things I would never say as a graceful sober woman. Every morning I surrender and ask for help, and I do the same practice at night before I go to bed. By the grace of God and by the practice of surrendering to win, by the time this blog post is up, I will have put many days of sobriety in a row. 

I surrender today to win. I have many people in my life today who have come forward to tell me they have been suffering for years too. I remember when I finally said I am not good, that this has to stop, many people said to me, “You always seem like you have it so together!” I was functioning at a low level. Toward the end it just became so isolating. 

Today I have beautiful supportive people that I am forever grateful for. I have a practice and a program, and I have so much forgiveness in my heart. Mostly, I surrender.

Deborah Driggs

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