Mike’s Story: Accepting the Gift of Surrender

By Mike H., Renascent Alumni

I didn’t expect to pick up a newcomer’s chip. In fact, an hour earlier, I didn’t even know that these chips existed or that this was the way newbies could introduce themselves to a network of support.

Rising to my feet, still hungover and dehydrated, my head felt light and the room seemed suddenly to be streaming lights that looked like what you see when you look through a kaleidoscope. Your faces shone through too, all eyes and smiles like the inmates of some happiness colony.

I’ve never again had such an ethereal experience at a meeting. I felt like a warmer, gentler sort of a lightning bolt was gracing the room.

It all happened so fast, but once the meeting was over, a number of you came round to check in with me, still beaming but now with pens and offering names and phone numbers. I dutifully took down some of your deets but felt too confused and unready to really want your attention and apparent interest.


What I was left with after that meeting was an overwhelming sense that there was another way of life and that you offered that hope. I feel strongly, as I did at that time, that immediately and spontaneously I came to believe that a Power greater than myself could restore me to sanity.

So started the slipping years. I felt that the group of drunks had a way out that I could tap into if and when I needed it. So I stayed really close, never veering far in terms of days or weeks of absence, but also nor surrendering and finding my way. The number of newcomer chips I collected in my sock drawer kept growing, so much so that I once polished up a handful to donate to my home group.

I followed the easier, softer way for about 5 years. I built enough resentment to those who had started at the same time as me and were picking up medallions that I eventually decided I deserved one too. I felt I could trade in 18 months of non-continuous sobriety for a cake and some recognition – for God’s sake! – so I manufactured a fantasy year and pretended I had made it through.

Lies are harder to remember than truth, so this event somehow slipped my mind. I was genuinely surprised to find a one-year card with signatures and well wishes as I cleaned out a drawer one evening.

That evening I was packing my bags to prepare for treatment. Thankfully, I came to Renascent with the gift of surrender, the desire that I wanted what you have, and a willingness to go to any length to get it. I was ready to turn my will and life to the care of a God of my understanding.

Mike H. has been in recovery since Nov. 20, 2010, four days before he checked into Renascent for treatment.

About the Authors

Members of Renascent's alumni community carry the message by sharing their experiences and perspectives on addiction and recovery. To contribute your alumni perspective, please email alumni@renascent.ca.