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Is making comparisons to others helpful in sobriety?

Reflections on comparison in recovery.... When i attended AA many years ago, i was doing it through gritted teeth, distaste , shame, and because others wanted me to stop drinking. I did think that i wanted to stop drinking, but, because of what was happening to my health, things in my life, like losing my career, and family problems, i really thought that i deserved to have a drink. It was the one thing in my life that i thought would help me to have a bit of time out and relax. I deserved it. When i went to AA, i met the most nauseating woman... ever. She was the opposite of me... Not drinking, joyous, successful, beautiful and happy. I hated her. I admired her initial, but after her snide comments to me that i was in and out of the rooms and not succeeding, i dreaded seeing her. 10 years later i would love to thank her...... Somewhere deep in the back of my mind, i totally admired how together she was. I wanted what she had... freedom, and joy. And so... this led me on to thinking about making comparisons in recovery. Can making comparisons be healthy? Or is making comparisons unhelpful? A bit of both i would say..... Making comparisons to that woman made me feel more down about myself... id even go home from an AA meeting more miserable and find more unhelpful solace in another bottle of wine.... So i kept on adding fuel to the fire... for another decade. But, there she still was , sitting somewhere in my subconcious... How was it possible that she could find joy in sobriety and spend her life going to these miserable meetings?! It didn't make any sense. So on one hand this comparison was not helpful.... but, on the other hand, there she was, lurking in my mind.... how do people learn to move away from drinking and embrace a brand new life? Making that comparison must have had a profound affect on me somehow.... Roll on to today..... Im 20 months sober. AA wasn't the solution that worked for me, but i eventually found my way to understand what would work for me I would like to thank that woman today.... She gave me a glimmer of hope in some sense of how i would like my life to be. And that seems like a healthy comparison. It might have taken me another 10 years but this is how we all differ. I learned pretty early on that making comparisons to others in the online groups wasn't helpful either. The long term effects of drinking left me feeling physically and psychologically exhausted. I was now amongst lots of new people in recovery who's back ground, and stories, for what ever reason led them to seeking a new life in sobriety. I was envious of people who after one month of being sober were full of energy, loving life, sleeping better and looking amazing! How on earth did they do it?! I quickly learned that the only really helpful comparison to make in this journey was that with myself. Am i doing a little bit better today than i did yesterday or last week? Some days, yes, some days, not quite.. Comparison drives so many thoughts and feelings. It affects our self worth and our relationships. I realised that to succeed in this new world it was vital that i didn't keep comparing my sober self to those around me. A saying that i learned from AA is 'look for the similarities, not the differences'. This has been so powerful in my acceptance of myself. It helps me to pay attention to what i need on a daily basis in my recovery... And to be patient. You may find yourself at some point on this journey making comparisons... Try and see it as a motivator to change in your life for you. Try and use it to give you hope. If you meet someone that you admire, then reach out and talk to them. Ask them how they are succeeding, they will want to help you. One of the beautiful things i have learned is that anyone who has a successful day one in their sobriety has so much to offer others. If you can manage to get through enough days to get alcohol out of your system then you have so much to give. Reach out to the person behind you on their day one. Never forget how hard it was to get that, and how proud you felt when you woke up sober the next day. And be patient.... We really are all different. I have written to so many others on this journey about being patient. Its tough but so true. It may take you 6 months to get that good nights sleep, it might take you 3 years to lose those few pounds, but what sobriety does give you is the freedom to heal and improve your life. Just give it time, and stick to healthy comparisons. If you have any thoughts about comparisons please share x

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