From fear to freedom: learning to surrender

Being given something is not the same as earning it, for me.

Somehow I started believing, deeply, that if I was given something, that was all the was possible; my achievement was what I was given or what I drifted into; my achievement, my growth was not purposeful and directed; instead, it was random, more a product of chance than of purpose.

When I found or was given something (whether it was property, equipment, a job, or an opportunity), I tied my self-worth to that; I fear(ed) losing it, and when I lost that thing, it stung me. It hurt: a combination of shame and embarrassment; I wanted to retreat and hide, as though my humanity and my place and purpose had disappeared.

If I have something and I haven’t earned it, I’ve basically borrowed something, the same as with a bank loan or a credit card. It doesn’t matter if the thing is property (like a piece of equipment) or if it’s trust (like someone gives me when they give me a job). If I’ve borrowed something - if I’ve been given something before I earned it - I will always, always have to pay it back.

Sometimes I am able to pay it back, sometimes I am able to pay back the trust others lend me; but I have also had times - too many times? - where I have not been able to pay it back.

For me, being given something, or finding something, is not the same as earning it (and by thinking that, I have forgotten to build my capacity and my capability to do purposeful work, which I think is part of the problem I’ve created with my addiction).


Self-pity: the “escape hatch” I try to use to avoid life. I can avoid anything as long as I’m living in self-pity.

I need to surrender self-pity.

I’ve been feeling some self-pity today: “oh man I have so much going on this week and I’m not sure I have everything prepared for tomorrow, blah blah”. The crazy thing is the fact I have a lot of stuff happening is a good thing - it’s the whole point of having a business right? - so I guess I just feel sorry for myself because I am holding on to this negative idea, this “escape”: if I’m incapable of working through these tasks this week then it means I don’t have to try right? And if I don’t try, there’s no risk to my self-worth, because of course things didn’t work out, I wasn’t trying. (That makes sense right? :upside_down_face:)


Worry. Worries.

Needing to see everything and cover every base at the same time. You can only cover one base (in baseball) at a time.

Needing to monitor everything and be aware of everything, all at once. (Or, put another way: worrying about everything, which distracts me from what I am doing, here, now.)

I have found myself feeling panicked about this week, in which I have a lot of projects scheduled to start (more projects than I’ve had before). Why am I panicking? I’m nervous of course - this is new territory for me as a businessperson - but that frantic feeling, like I’m scrambling to catch everything, see everything, cover everything: that frantic feeling, like if I’m not watching, if I don’t have everything in my gaze, it will fall apart. That’s the feeling.

I’m not 100% sure where that feeling comes from but I am sure that me being aware of everything, monitoring everything, is impossible. Worrying about these things feels like my addict ego (the worrywart obsessive thinker) trying to take over my thinking, but in disguise: he’s pretending to be a legitimate concern (“if you don’t do these things it will be a disaster!” - that’s what he says, and he’s trying to destabilize me, to create chaos, which is where addiction lives).

My addict voice is sneaky and it tries to make chaos in my life. It will disguise itself as a voice asking legitimate questions, but the truth is these questions - these worries that “everything will fall apart” - are not things I can control. There’s a million ways things can fall apart, anytime, anywhere. If I spend my life living in these worries, I’ll be paralyzed, and I’ll be alienated from the people and spaces that keep me going in a healthy ways.

I need to surrender worry. I surrender worry.


Glad you are checking in, Matt. First things first. Saying stopp. Connecting with what is important right now. Reality check.

I was on a hike yesterday and started off with really no worries. Why even worry. Or thinking. The weather was perfect. I head enough food and set out for a good route. But decided to make it a bit longer as I didn’t want to take the same way back. So now in the uncertainty my mind kept making senseless calculations. No stopp possible. I checked the GPS. All was fine. But my mind kept running in circles. It’s hard to calm it down. I am happy when sometimes I succeed.


Me too. :innocent:

You’re absolutely right Franzi. That mindset of being present, if not sinking into aimless speculation - that is so important.

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Self-pity made a strong appearance this morning. (Last night too.)

I asked myself, why does self-pity (and paralyzing worry - which comes with self-pity: “everything will fall apart!”) have such a magnetic relationship with me. (Right now at least, in these early days.) Why is it coming back so consistently?

Yes, I’m an addict, and yes, self-pity is one “escape hatch” for avoiding life. Addiction, for me, always goes with avoidance.

But I want to know more deeply, more personally. What does this self-pity mean for me?

I think it means my self-worth is on the line. Somewhere, at some point, I started tying my self-worth to things that are beyond my control, in particular to the judgments of others (I was very sensitive and defensive about this as a child, still am, too often).

If my self-worth is tied to the judgments of others, then self-pity comes to me, because I am helpless: my whole worth as a human, my value as a person, is not in my hands.

What a weird, backward way to think of it! But that is my habit. I’m going to give this some thought.

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Why not feel a bit of self-pity? I loved what I heard in therapy: shower yes, taking a bath in it no.

I am happy to read your discovery process. And sometimes I think: haaaa, Matt is very very good in analysing everything to it’s horrible, tiniest detail. I am good at it as well. I’d like to develop and excercise a: stop it now. That’s enough of thinking. We got it, inner ensemble of personality parts. :upside_down_face:


I just discovered this thread @Matt thank you for putting it out there. Your inner voice seems to speak the same way that mine does. You were the first person to reach out to me when I joined this site snd I will never forget that kindness. Keep up the struggle, you are worth it. :mending_heart::heart:

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Thanks Franzi, I agree :innocent:

Thanks @TrustyBird! I’m happy to see the momentum you’ve built over the last year. I’m happy to hear you resonate with what I’m sharing in some ways. I like that empathy feeling, when another sees me and I have the chance to see another. It’s a powerful and validating experience :innocent:


Me too!! :mending_heart:

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Fear. I’m afraid.

“What if it doesn’t work?” That thought or some variation of it has been floating through my mind all morning.

  • What if I’m not able to improve my earnings enough to cover my expenses?
  • What if I don’t get the payment from ____ client in time?
  • What if ____ is mad at me for backing out of our deal?

You know what all of those have in common? They’re out of my control. They’re all made up mostly of things that are beyond my control.

I know what my next constructive step is, for all of them:
A) improve earnings means I need to seek more sales leads (which I know how to do)
B) getting payment means closing out the project efficiently, which I can control, and then in my experience clients pay promptly
C) another person’s reaction to my choice (which I believe is the right choice) is not in my control: my value as a person and as a professional is not at stake here

Fear and control (or the lack of control). For me they are closely connected.


It’s making me want to hide at home today.

It’s weird to be aware of these feelings as they’re happening. For many many years I numbed out with my addiction.

I am taking time now to ask “what is my next right thing? What is my next constructive step”. Wish me luck folks :innocent:


Is there anything you can do about it today? Or can you decide to let go of it for a bit? Cuddle the cats, go into nature?

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I don’t think I need to let go of it. I think I need to re-frame it: re-align my perspective about it.

In the past these thoughts would paralyze me. Now I am learning to walk through them one step at a time and stay focused on what I can do, what’s in my control.

I did spend time with the cats this morning and last night (and the night before that, and most nights). The cats are very welcoming and often come to greet me when I get home. We have fun together.



I need to surrender my habits.

This weekend, my old addiction thinking hit me hard: “go ahead and act out, go ahead and do the addiction stuff, it doesn’t matter, you’re good now, it won’t be a problem”.

Problem is, I know it will be a problem. My addiction thinking is romanticizing the addiction: it’s like I broke up with the addiction and I’m remembering (imagining) that there were good times. (There weren’t.)

The pull of these thoughts caught me off guard. I found myself scrolling online more than I usually do (in my case scrolling online is a kind of gateway behaviour). I called a few members of my sobriety group and shared what I was going through. It was helpful: I felt validated; I felt heard. I said some prayers. I had some activities to do outside the house - visits with friends, some work tasks yesterday - and that helped.

The way these thoughts snuck in reminded me of water, how it always takes the shortest route to the sea. A river follows a riverbed, and a riverbed is always lower than the surrounding land (which is what makes it easier). Getting sober and living recovery is like building levees, so that water in a river or sea doesn’t flood your home. Levees are also used to shield harbours from the currents and waves of the sea, so that boats have a safe place to dock - like in this photo (this is in the port of Laaxum, in the Netherlands - if anyone knows how to build good levees, it’s the Dutch):

I need to reinforce my levees. I think this weekend surprise of emotion and thoughts happened because I’ve been pushing myself pretty hard for work and I’ve neglected my morning sobriety work (not entirely, but I haven’t been journaling and reflecting, which I have been doing as part of my step work).

Tonight I will do some step work on my Step 4 before I go to bed.

Thanks friends. Don’t give up. It is worth it. :innocent:


I’m pushing back against the universe / the patterns of growth / higher power (whatever term is used).

I’m not consciously choosing to submit. I’m trying to know everything, control everything, be in the driver’s seat.

I need to consciously choose to submit and trust that within me, within the natural order of the universe, are patterns that I need in order to be myself. I am pushing back against these natural patterns this week, and it’s making me stumble. I haven’t crossed any of my bottom lines but my mind is all over the place.

I need to consciously, attentively submit.


“I want, I don’t want, I want…”

That’s my voice of self-pity. “I want to act out with my addiction, I don’t want to do these important tasks, I want…”

That’s me using self-pity as an escape hatch. That’s me using self-pity as an excuse: “I’m overburdened and misunderstood, so I have permission to do what I want.”

Don’t get me wrong: it’s fine to want things. It’s good to have goals. It’s also good to have rewards in my life. But there’s a difference between wanting a goal (like a healthy fitness goal, or a healthy work goal) or a reward, which are things I work for in a healthy way, day by day - things that are about growth - versus just feeling sorry for myself, so I give myself “permission” to do behaviours that I know are unhelpful for me (my addiction behaviours, or related behaviours).

That self-pity is sneaky. It comes in waves and if I don’t take time to talk with other people in recovery, and do other recovery work like my journaling or quiet reflection or prayer, then I get myself in trouble.


How are you doing, Matt?

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Sorry for the delay Franzi!

Good thx! It’s been a very busy few weeks (a short weekday for me these days is 12 hours; 14-16 hours of work is not uncommon - it will not always be like this but in the summer for painters in colder climates like Canada it is like being a farmer: it is dawn to dusk, work while the weather is suitable).

I have been a bit quite here as I’ve been occupied here with family and friends and work, but I am still reading and doing little comments where I can.



Solitude is fine - meditating alone, in peace; there are many other ways as well, to find healthy solitude - but isolation? I surrender isolation.

I was listening to “The Daily Reprieve” recovery podcast, the one from June 14, 2023 (‎The Daily Reprieve: Dave F & Mark H - Next Steps to Emotional Sobriety on Apple Podcasts) and the speakers were talking about how when we lose connection with what’s outside us - they refer to their higher / external power specifically, but I think this applies more broadly to external connection to a bigger picture (of which other humans are always a part, in one way or another) - that’s when we start retreating into the maze of the self and we lose ourselves in that internal space, where there are no external checks and balances: we lose ourself in the echo chamber of our mind.

This is an experience I am very familiar with. My mind can dream up all kinds of exaggerated worries and fears and paralyzing thoughts, all of which make me want to turn to my addiction to get numb.

So I surrender isolation. I surrender the habit of retreating and isolating. Sure, I have healthy solitude, in a balanced way, when I need it, but I don’t neglect spending time with other people in recovery.

I have my friends in my sobriety groups and I have Talking Sober and I am infinitely grateful for that. I would not be sober without your presence in my life - thank you, all of you :pray: :innocent: