I Am Not Like You People!

Committing yourself is a way of finding out who you are. A man finds his identity by identifying. A man’s identity is not best thought of as the way in which he is separated from his fellows but the way in which he is united with them. -Robert Terwiliger

To date, I have not met a single member of AA who did not say the statement in my title as they walked out the doors of their first meeting.  I’m sure there is somebody out there who walked into their first 12-step meeting feeling like they’ve instantly belonged, but the vast majority of us believed very differently.  Some people say it with contempt, judging that they are in fact far superior, or don’t have as much of a problem as the group (or any problem at all), or some, like myself, just felt as if they didn’t belong.  Only to find out, hopefully sooner rather than later, that they are exactly where they need to be.

This attitude is not unique to recovery programs, and, speaking for myself, can extend to many areas of my life.  Pretty much any time I walk into a gym I have the same thought… I am not like these people.  They love to exercise, they are athletic, and fit, and they are all ready to run a marathon.  They want to be here.  I, on the other hand, hate to be here, and the best moment I experience in the gym is the minute it takes me to walk out the door, feeling accomplished because I just did something good for myself.

Or, walking into a PTA meeting… I am not like these people.  They are self-righteous, they all believe they are the best parents on the planet, and they live to judge the rest of us in the room.   I, on the other hand, am just here to make sure I understand all that is going on in my kids’ lives.

Or, walking into a kids’ sporting event… I am not like these people.  They know all the ins and outs of whatever sport is being played, they are able to watch every minute of their child’s playing time, and yell out insightful, encouraging words of wisdom that is undoubtedly helping their child play better.  I, on the other hand, struggle to follow the sport, frequently lose track of how well or how poorly my child is playing, and have no idea what encouraging words to call out at any given moment.

But whether I am putting myself down or putting down the people around me, at the end of the day I am making a judgment based on next to nothing, and I am being the polar opposite of open-minded.  In AA this is called “contempt prior to investigation,” and it is an expression that should have a wider audience than people in recovery.

Today’s Miracle:

That I can identify my negative thought patterns at all is an honest to God miracle!


Posted on February 5, 2013, in Recovery and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Lol about the sporting comment – can identify!


  2. So very true! Our disease separates us. If we don’t lose that uniqueness, we will not make it! I separate myself (ism) Yeah, but I’m different. I go to God at once & ask Him to remove it. As fr. Tom would say, it’s a lie straight out of Hell! Have a great day.


  3. Well said! contempt prior to investigation (my fave line in the big book methinks, sorry Bill W!) is something I am guilty of before, during and after my drinking. I did the same thing you outlined in your post, but at meetings. It got bad enough that I would leave meetings even a few minutes in because I felt they were better AA’s than me, that I wasn’t as good as them, I didn’t work the fellowship and program as hard as they did, boo hoo, etc. I just never got right sized with most people and situations. And this is in sobriety I am talking about, working the steps, etc. Certainly something that I have had difficulty letting go of. But I have made some great progress. But I still do it sometimes. Amazing that we do that, don’t we?

    I was nodding the entire time reading your entry today…identify, identify, identify… yikes.

    Thanks for sharing – wonderful to read 🙂


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