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August 19 • Comparing Reflections

Day 772

This morning, I read a line in the book I use for my daily meditation that is worth sorting through the filters of my recovery journal. It draws on the publication Tools of Recovery: A Practical Guide for New Members of SAA. I have not yet purchased this book, but it’s been referenced in the workshops I’ve attended and is often quoted. This particular meditation started with this passage from page 30:

“By being willing to identify instead of compare, we not only break the bonds of our own isolation, but we help others.”

The author of the meditation added,

“The mirror’s reflection is a good analogy for identifying one addict with another. In the face of every newcomer, I am given a chance to see myself as I have been.”*

This thought is timely for me to receive and to reflect on its application in my life.

I have a tendency (and I don’t think I’m alone) to compare both my addiction and my recovery to other members of the community as I become familiar with their stories. Too often, I start pre-judging my fellows based on someone’s appearance or demeanor, and I’m not proud of that. But it may also explain why some folks in the first meeting I attended regularly didn’t think (accurately) that I was ready to commit to recovery. Maybe it was my disheveled appearance, or the liquor on my breath, or my reluctance to admit I was a sex addict. Thinking back on those days also helps me apply this reflection vs. comparison mentality.

I cannot ignore the stories and even the appearances of those around me. It is a natural tendency of humanity to do that; otherwise, there would not be nations, denominations, or political parties. We are drawn to those we think are like us, or to those we want to be like, and by whom we want to be liked.

But if I put those observations and feelings into the value of remembering who I was, how far I’ve come, and where I can be if I work it (because I’m worth it), then is that not a positive way to channel those natural tendencies that are too often used to divide us?

I genuinely learned a long time ago that the worst dressed, least kempt man in the room has more to teach me than I know I need to learn. I’ve also learned that high performers can crash hard. Neither case is 100% predictable, so the investment I try to make in both situations is equal acceptance and equal caution. Respecting addicts for the battles they are waging is crucial, but wagering on which ones will have long-term sobriety — or not — is a fool’s errand.

The love I feel for the men in my meetings is genuine and surprising. Because I know more about my story than theirs, I have no trouble believing that I am the least of these. I also understand that this is not a healthy comparison, which leads me to conclude there are no healthy comparisons in this world of addicts.

We are sober today, or we are not. Seeing each other as a reflection of our past or future selves can be very valuable and bonding as we individually strive together for our long-term sobriety and the courage to try again in the face of short-term failures.



Mountain climb this pile of paper

Where I listed all my failures

Who am I to say you're wrong

We compare ourselves like mirrors

Reflect our common struggles

–Secret Smoker, “Mt Failure”


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