Topic for the week: Making comparisons
I was reading in the book Days of Healing, Days of Joy and came across this quote: “Comparisons are odious.” Comparing ourselves to others is something we start doing at an early age. At school we become accustomed to comparing ourselves to others regarding our academic and sports abilities and as adults advertisers love to have us comparing ourselves to others with regard to our looks, weight, possessions, and much more.
In sobriety we might want to compare our progress with others’ progress; it seems especially easy to fall prey to this in the early stages of getting sober – I know I did. I was newly sober in Miami Beach and would be at a meeting wondering how so-and-so could seem SO together when she or he had the same or even less time in the program than I had! I’d get depressed thinking about this, comparing every facet of their appearance, shares, and AA social life to mine, often finding myself coming up short. I’d talk to my sponsor and she would tell me to stop “shoulding” on myself, e.g., stop telling myself I should be x, I should do y, I should have z. Comparing my journey in sobriety to others’ journeys was a complete waste of time, I eventually came to understand, because their sober journey wasn’t mine (and vice versa), and my life prior to sobriety wasn’t theirs (and vice versa).
We share our experience, strength, and hope because as active alcoholics we did a lot of the same things. But even if we didn’t, we certainly felt a lot of the same feelings, e.g., guilt, remorse, embarrassment, hopelessness, and so on. However, even though we share some of the same experiences and feelings, we still have our own path in sobriety. Getting sober seems to me to be a very personal experience even when it’s done the same way, for example, going to rehab. We can relate to one another’s stories of drinking, getting sober, and working the program of AA because there are similarities, but out journeys are each our own. No one has lived the same life I’ve lived, had the same parents, had exactly the same personal interactions I’ve had, just as I’ve not lived anyone else’s life and therefore can’t know 100% accurately what they’ve been through, what life is like for them now, and how they’re managing their sobriety.
A quote by Theodore Roosevelt is apt: “Comparison is the thief of joy.” I know this is true for me because so often it’s a case of comparing my “insides” with someone else’s “outsides”. Social media is a prime source for this…people posting their best photos, best meals, best holidays, best besties, and on and on….ugh!! I have to remember that even though others have some of the things I’d like to have but don’t, that doesn’t mean I’m any less. I’m okay as I am, right now, and am grateful for what I do have, especially my sobriety. There are those who would give anything to get sober but for whatever reason, they can’t. I’ve been given the best gift anyone like me, i.e., an alcoholic, can be given…truly, I wouldn’t be alive if I had not gotten sober – I’m sure of it!
So, when I start down that road of comparing myself to others I remind myself that I’m sober, I’m healthy, I’m not incarcerated (I could’ve been arrested for any number of things I did while drinking), and I have the love of family and friends (more so since getting sober). I’m extremely fortunate to be where I am considering the life I’ve had and some of the choices I’ve made. And maybe that person I’ve been comparing myself to is also fortunate, or maybe not. Either way, I need to focus on my life, my behavior, my choices, and my attitude. I can live and let live, and leave making comparisons to others as it does me no good.
The meeting is now open. Please share on your experiences of making comparisons. Thank you for letting me share.