It is very common to hear a newcomer in AA use a phrase like “I don’t belong here,” “I’m not like you people,” “I am not as bad off.” The response from the “veterans” is usually to chuckle. Because, with little exception, that is the thought process of everyone as they walk into a meeting for the first time.
Sadly, I thought the same thing. While I have 116 days clean and sober, I have been attempting recovery through the 12-step program for a little over a year. Before that, I attempted to join AA about 7 years ago. In both cases, I had the exact same attitude that I described above. I really don’t even judge myself harshly for it, I genuinely believed that I was very, very different from the people I met in the rooms of AA, and that I was incapable of resorting to the types of things they resorted to as a result of their addiction. It’s not even that I felt I was better than them (although I’m sure in some cases I did think that), I just felt like I was not of the same mindset.
Here’s what I have come to learn in the last 116 days… the key word for all my thoughts that began with “I never” was… YET. I haven’t lost my family… yet. I haven’t suffered legal consequences… yet. I haven’t lost my home… yet. Because addiction is a progressive disease, and it is simply a matter of time before you experience all the bottoms that you thought would “never happen to you.”
So now, when I hear a horror story from someone in recovery, instead of looking at all the parts of their story that are different from mine and thinking “well, I would never do that,” I seek out the similarities and I think, “there but for the grace of God go I.”