For whatever reason, even after years of addiction recovery, there is still a certain tendency for a lot of us to try to one-up our fellows.
“You think that was bad? Well, I…”
“That’s nothing! One time, I…”
How many times have we said these things, or something similar? Or maybe, we do it from a different perspective:
“I was so bad, I won’t even risk taking Tylenol.”
“Using aftershave with alcohol, at least for me, is a relapse.”
The underlying message is the same: I was worse in my disease, therefore I work a more solid Program.
Which, quite frankly, is bull.
Not only is it bull, it is dangerous. It signifies a lack of humility, and if we have truly worked The Steps—as we should have if our alcoholism and addiction recovery really, truly is that valuable to us—it is tantamount to taking our will and our life back from our Higher Power. Once we do that, as we also learn in The Steps, we are completely, brutally, and irrevocably screwed (to put it lightly).
Of course we are proud of the progress we have made. We walked through the scariest, ugliest, and most inconceivable experiences and lived to recount the tale to others already on their own journeys, looking for the path we were so lucky to find. In that sense, there is nothing wrong with that…providing it coming from a place of gratitude and not unwarranted self-satisfaction.
But these “accomplishments” are not our doing, or our work. They are God’s.
The fact of the matter is, regardless of our circumstances, our lives were all ruined by addiction and alcoholism to the point where we no longer had any ideas.
If someone loses their country club membership or accordions their Rolls into a tree as a result of his or her drinking or using, and finds that to be the moment of clarity showing he or she cannot stop when they want to, guess what? That person needs to be here just as badly as the person who lost their family, business, car, or whatever.
In fact, it is not about what we lost at all.
It is about what addiction and alcoholism do to us as people. Namely, it is that we are left as shells of our former selves.
There used to be an old saying in recovery. It went, “Recovery isn’t for the people who need it or want it; it is for the people who work it.”
If we are truly working a Program of recovery, then we are keeping the doors open to any and all who want it. Certainly—hopefully—we are not giving excuses to future members simply for the sake of inflating our own egos.
When two men are in the trenches, comparing battle scars makes little difference. What matters is that both men are on the same side, looking down the barrel of the same gun.
If you are truly an addict or an alcoholic, it is only a matter of time before you fall to the depths others have.