M(3), 3/3: Identifying Vs. Comparing

So here we are, another Monday, another morning of scrambling around due to weather.  I will not beat the dead horse (that I have already beaten, resurrected, and beaten to death again) that I am tired of this winter.

That being said, certain meteorological conditions forced me to find a replacement for myself as the meeting chair, and arrive late to the meeting.  All in all, though, it is fun to mix it up and sit on the other side of the desk and just be an attendant at the meeting.  We had an excellent turnout, and, as it is the first week of the month, I instructed the chair to select a reading from the book Alcoholics Anonymous.  He selected a story, which I hurriedly read as people were sharing, so I was not able to glean all the usual pearls of wisdom from my Monday Morning Comrades.  I will however, share what I gleaned from it.

The story, for anyone who wishes to read along, is entitled “A Drunk, Like You,” and tells the story of a man who was more or less pulled along the road of recovery.  A researcher by trade, he needed to learn all of the lessons he had been taught in the 12-step rooms for himself before he could commit to the principles.

The story is an interesting read, full of relatable emotions, at least for this alcoholic.  One of the concepts to which I most profoundly related was identifying with people, rather than comparing yourself to them.  He writes:

They (fellow 12-step members) said I needed to identify, not compare.  I didn’t know what they meant.  What was the difference?  Identifying, they said, was trying to see how I was like the people I was with.  Comparing, they told me, was looking for differences, usually seeing how I was better than others.

-Alcoholics Anonymous, pg. 405

I never ascribed words to those mindsets before, but boy oh boy can I relate to the feelings behind them!   The feelings I had at my first 12-step meetings are crystal clear for me:

I.  Am.  Not.  Like.  These.  People.

Not an uncommon first thought, I’ve heard legions of people say the same.  But I spent many a meeting doing exactly what “they” are instructing the author not to do:  I kept a checklist of all the ways I was different, all the bottoms to which I had not sunk, all of the atrocities I had not committed.  Here’s what happens to people like me:  as time goes by, as addiction progresses, all of the things that kept my head held high became true.

Finally, when I did not feel I had an option other than recovery, was I able to sit and listen, this time with the mindset of getting for myself the serenity that they seem to have.  And what a miracle that is… listening for similarities, rather than differences!  Suddenly I was hearing people speak, and they were feeling what I was feeling!  And, better still, they had a solution!

What’s great about this process is how it seeps into all areas of my life.  Now, when I am feeling like I have the worst problem in the world, I have only to open my mouth (or, in this case, move my fingers across a keyboard).  Not only will I feel better for having opened up about a problem, I will feel comfort in knowing I am not alone, and, best of all, I will have the privilege of hearing how others have solved the problem.  It is, quite simply, the gift that keeps on giving!

Today’s Miracle:

Today’s miracle is that I get to call myself the friend of a celebrity.  Please do yourself a favor and give this podcast a listen.  It is called The Bubble Hour, and my amazing friend Kristen from Bye-ByeBeer is one of the illustrious guests!


Posted on March 3, 2014, in Recovery. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. What a great post! i judge people so often and compare myself all the time, usually about how unfair life is to me but not others. i remember reading this story in the Big Book, but forgot the message, so thank for the necessary reminder!


    • Thanks, Al. I was actually amazed, I don’t think I ever did read that story before, which is weird, because it’s right before my favorite story in the BB (Acceptance is the Answer). In any event, I loved it! Glad you enjoyed the refresher!


  2. I don’t remember reading that story at all, but it was a fun read today. The message to look for similarities instead of differences is priceless and can be applied in so many areas. The differences make us interesting, but that common place we all come from provides the only peace I’ve ever found. Beautiful, wonderful post, Josie, and thank you so much for the mention!


  3. That sums it up perfectly, Kristen, thank you! Glad you enjoyed!


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