The Pursuit, Surrender and Spirituality


Emma Liverite on February 21, 2019 at 11:21 AM

For as long as I can remember, I have had this unshakeable feeling of not being enough. Not being content. Not feeling complete. Always in pursuit of something to fulfill me, to satisfy me, to complete me.

For many years it was school. At other times it was exercise. It has been shopping, working, and relationships.

Of course, I wasn’t aware of this obsessive and compulsive behavior until I came into recovery, the last time. I was in and out of the twelve-step program all throughout my 20s. But, I did not “surrender” until 2014. A few months into my recovery, I began to see this pattern, in hindsight.

This is when I truly understood what is meant when it is said that “drug use is only a symptom of our disease.”

I could not agree more with this statement (now.)

Before I truly surrendered, I could never admit or concede that I was a drug addict. I was convinced, entirely, that I just had a “lifestyle problem.” In hindsight, of course, this is ridiculous. I was using drugs intravenously and I was completely and totally addicted to my drug of choice, physiologically and psychologically. I was doing things I would never do to be able to continue using my drug of choice. My entire existence revolved around “finding and using and finding ways and means to use.” It was never-ending torture.

At meetings, I often talk about how recovery, for me, can really be summarized with the spiritual principle of surrender. Of course, the other spiritual principles, and the actual steps and traditions are absolutely crucial. But for me, it all comes down to surrender.

Once I was able to surrender, on the deepest level, and really internalize the principle of surrender, I was able to begin my journey of recovery. As soon as I acknowledged and accepted the indisputable fact that I am a drug addict, I was able to put active addiction behind me.

So, the question is, why do we pursue things outside of ourselves to fulfill us? Relationships, activities, social situations, love, sex, friendships, etc.?

I think that a lot of people, and most, if not all addicts, have this compulsion to be constantly in pursuit of something. I think that, at least partly, it is the pursuit itself that gives us some sort of satisfaction. It’s a thrill. There’s something exciting and stimulating about the actual pursuit. But I’ve personally found that when I pursue things outside of myself to fill the void, even when I am in the “obtainment” phase, I am dissatisfied. I feel empty.

So, what do we do in recovery, when we are told that we should no longer pursue things outside of ourselves to fulfill us?

The answer is simple, really. We fill that void with spirituality. As we have been told many times in recovery, spirituality is the solution. We recover by becoming spiritual individuals.

The 12-step program is a spiritual program. In my active addiction and in my years in and out of recovery, this is one way in which I disqualified myself. I’ve considered myself an agnostic for many years now. So, I would convince myself that I couldn’t recover, the 12-step way. That the 12-step program wasn’t for me.

But, as the Narcotics Anonymous textbook tells us, atheists and agnostics recover too. That’s because you can still be a spiritual person by applying the spiritual principles on a daily basis, to every part of your life, and by doing the next right thing, all the time.

However, spiritual principles are, arguably, not enough. We still have to have Higher Powers (and relationships with those HPs.) Those of us who consider ourselves atheist or agnostic still have some options. We are not disqualified from the 12-step program because we are atheist or agnostic. We do not have to compromise our religious or spiritual convictions, or the lacks thereof, to be committed 12-step members.

I personally find my Higher Power by applying the spiritual principles, by doing the next right thing, and by consulting with individuals I put my trust in. These individuals include my sponsor, my family members, my friends (in and out of recovery,) and my co-workers. This is how I approach the Higher Power requirement.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to the Higher Power requirement. This is what I love about the 12-step program.

The following quote from Staying Clean: The Journey Continues really resonates with me, and in my opinion, captures 12-step spirituality: “When our faith grows into knowledge, the program that we once struggled to practice has become part of who we are. We find *here* what we were looking for all along: connection to others, connection to a Higher Power, connection to the world around us—and, most surprising of all, CONNECTION TO OURSELVES” [emphasis mine].

So, our faith, whether our Higher Power is God, nature, love, or anything else, in the end, always connects us to ourselves. This is what rids us of the once never-ending pursuit. 


Brenda Maks

This is so true. Very nicely written.

1753 days ago