Like most of the world yesterday I was saddened by the news of Robin Williams suicide. Notice I say saddened but not shocked. When you’re in recovery you go to lots of funerals. There are three options for alcoholics and addicts if they continue to use or are “dry” (meaning they go to meetings and maybe even have a sponsor but don’t work a spiritual program) and they are: jails, institutions and death.
For my first five years of sobriety I didn’t have much of a spiritual program. I was concentrating on being of service, going to lots of meetings and hanging out with other people in recovery. I didn’t have a sponsor that was so keen on doing the steps. We did a basic job of going through the steps but it wasn’t enough.
At five years of sobriety I was in an abusive relationship and miserable. There wasn’t a day that I didn’t want to commit suicide. Everything looked fine on the outside but inside I was dying. I’m sure that psychiatrists would have diagnosed me with severe depression or some other mental illness but I knew the solution. Robin Williams knew the solution too, he was in recovery.
It’s hard to explain to people who are not addicts and alcoholics the deep despair us alchies go through when we’re “dry.” Its hard to explain the demons we fight when we’re in that state. It’s like you fall down a rabbit hole and can’t get out. One can be in that deep and morbid state of mind for a while before you can get pulled out.
What pulled me out was simple, it was my higher power. At five years of sobriety I finally surrendered and said, God help me, I can’t do this alone. When I said that prayer literally the next day I found a sponsor who is spiritual and works the steps thoroughly. I became God Centered instead of self centered.
Trust me, I was an atheist when I began my journey in recovery. When I realized that I could create my own concept of God it became very freeing for me. I surrendered my life over to the care of God and my life turned around.
I used to have one solution to my problems and that was to drink and use drugs. Now my solution is God, the steps and the program. It’s as simple as that. If I am uncomfortable or upset then I know there is no God in my life. In order to have that sense of ease and comfort in life I need to live this way. As a result I have never been happier and more at peace.
It is very sad that Robin Williams died. I looked up to him as a fellow comedian. Mork and Mindy was one of my favorite shows as a little girl and I even had a Mork and Mindy bathing suit. He was a genius. Many alcoholics and drugs addicts have that astounding talent but if they don’t arrest their disease by surrendering then they will never make it.
In an interview in 2010 Robin Williams talked about his lack of surrender to the program. He knew what he needed to do but for some reason was unwilling to do it. It goes to show you, you can have all the talent, accolades and money in the world but that won’t make you happy. In recovery I’ve never met anyone who has found happiness in those things. I have however found many who have found happiness by having a deep and lasting connection to their creator. Those are the ones who make it.
I wish for all of those suffering with the disease of alcoholism and addiction the gift of surrender. Throw in the towel, raise the white flag and admit complete defeat. It is the only way to survive.