How to Really Surrender Control

How to Really Surrender Control

The word surrender is used a lot in the world of addiction. One of the things that always bothered me was that I was constantly being told that I needed to let go and surrender, but I never really understood how.

The word surrender to me means letting go of my emotional investment in a certain outcome.

So what’s the opposite of surrendering?


Let me ask you a question, and I promise it’s just you and me so you can keep it real and honest. We don’t do judgment in this safe community of ours.

Would you consider yourself a controlling person?

Do you put forth a lot of effort to get an outcome that you think is beneficial to your situation?

When you are told no, are you the type of person who is determined to make it a yes?

Do you run a situation over and over in your mind, trying to figure out how you can get someone to do whatever it is you think is best?

Let’s make it even more specific. If you love someone suffering from the disease of addiction do you:

  • Track your loved one’s location most of the time?
  • Look for liquor or beer bottles?
  • Mark their bottles to see how much they have been drinking?
  • Text them when you think they are up to no good?
  • Lecture them when they come home late?
  • Nag them about chores or responsibilities?
  • Micromanage their schedule?
  • Feel anxious if you don’t know where they are or how much they have had to drink?
  • Get other people to talk them into getting sober?
  • Research helpful resources about sobriety and send them links or bring up your findings with the intention of convincing them they need help?
  • Try your best to meet their every need so they won’t drink or use drugs?
  • Exhaust yourself with the expectation that everything needs to be perfect?
  • Love them so hard that letting them go seems so unbearable that you hold on even tighter?
  • End up in a rage because everything you’ve tried isn’t working?

If you said yes to even one of these questions, my sister, you are not alone. Welcome. We are your people. We get it. I could have answered yes to every single one of those questions during different times in my life.

These are all behaviors that we can surrender.

And you want to know why you said yes to one or more of those questions? Fear. You’re afraid. You are scared that this disease is going to break apart your family and take away the one you love.

You are holding on with both hands as tightly as you can because the idea of losing your loved one scares you.

So you fight for control. You do the opposite of surrender.

When chaos happens in your life because of this disease, you dig deeper, looking for solutions. You are an overachiever. So you try harder.

You read one more self-help book, you make the house even cleaner, you try harder at work, or insist the kids behave even better.

You find an area in your life that you can control and you push harder.

And then what happens? All this effort – where has it gotten you?

There are certain areas of your life where all this effort pays off. Places where your determination and grit has clearly worked in your favor.

For example:

If you are controlling with your diet and exercise I bet your body is thanking you.

If you have placed control over your child’s screen time and determined what they can watch and for how long, that’s a benefit to your children.

Control is not always bad. In fact, it’s necessary for the success in our lives.

But, there are some areas where surrendering is the healthiest choice. And I have a feeling you know what I am about to tell you…

Surrendering control over our loved one’s addiction is a good thing.

Not only for us, but for them too.

Remember those questions I asked you? It’s not mentally, spiritually, or physically beneficial for us to say yes to any of them. We must let go of trying to control a grown adult. If the one you love is above the age of 18 – surrendering their future is key to your healing.

And the good news is that surrendering is very simple. Just stop making the choices to get in their lane. Stay in yours. Keep yourself busy with your healing and recovery.

Let’s make it even more specific. If you love someone suffering from the disease of addiction this is what surrendering looks like:

Stop tracking your loved one’s location most of the time. Let them go where they want to when they want to.

Stop looking for their hiding spots and keeping track of how much they have had to drink.

If you think they are making bad choices, don’t reach out to them. Get busy doing something you enjoy.

Go to bed and don’t worry when they come home. You can sleep in a different room if you like.

Make a list of chores you would like done and post it on the fridge. Tell them you would love for these to get done and then keep a quiet mouth.  If they don’t do them, hire someone. If you can’t afford that, try doing it yourself or letting it go.

Manage your own schedule. Eat when you want to eat. Go out when you want to go out.

Practice surrendering.

Take a deep breath or two or three.

Tell yourself that you are a grown adult in love with another grown adult and that healthy relationships do not require micromanaging. You will eventually find out where they have been and what they have been doing.

Please don’t ask people to talk to your loved one about their sobriety. That’s manipulating. Your friends and family will talk to them if they feel that’s appropriate. No need to push.

Next time you Google, look up something that you’re interested in. It could be a new hobby, a vacation, or images for your dream board (we talk a lot more about dream boards in our Love Over Addiction program).

You don’t need to try to be perfect.

The only thing you need to try harder at is loving yourself. Spend some alone time every day with God and ask to be reminded how loved and lovely you are.

If you spend too much time trying to fix everything around you so your loved one won’t drink, use drugs, cheat, or look at porn, you are wasting your time. Let things become imperfect – it will have no effect on their bad habits.

The next time you think of doing something kind for them, stop and do something kind for yourself. I’m not telling you to be selfish. But they know you love them. Do you love yourself? Be compassionate and ask yourself, “What do I need right now?” And then go do it.

Anger is a real emotion when you love someone suffering from this disease. Expect it. Let it happen. Don’t fight it. Acknowledge it. Then let it pass through you. It’s okay to make time to be alone for this process.

Their addiction has nothing to do with how well put together your life is.

It’s their battle to fight. Love them, support them, and give them consequences and boundaries.

If you’re looking for encouragement, answers, and healing – we have just the program for you. Click here to learn more about our programs.

Michelle Anderson

Michelle Anderson

Michelle Anderson has over 10 years of personal experience with loving someone who suffers from addiction. She was married to a good man who suffered from addiction to alcohol, illegal drugs, and pornography. She's used her experience to create powerful resources for women in the same circumstance. Using her own personal experience, combined with years of research and studying, she presents ideas, tips, and tools on how to handle this disease, and take care of yourself, and your family.

Explore the Love Over Addiction program

Computer, phone and worksheets of Love Over Addiction program

Remember being fun? Laughing? Feeling giddy? Being carefree? Addiction can take all those things away from you and replace them with worry, anxiety, fear, and anger. It doesn’t have to be that way. Discover how to change your life and your relationship today.

Explore the Love Over Addiction: Stay or Go program

Have you ever wondered? Or maybe you know… but you don’t know how. Staying or leaving your relationship is a huge decision. There are questions you need to ask yourself, and ways to prepare no matter what you decide. Find out how to make this decision, even if you’re not ready to make it today.