The value of essential similarities to recovery
Most of us who have been around AA some little time have probably quite often heard the injunction to “look for the similarities, not the differences.” Like most of the familiar and frequently used slogans in AA, this one contains much wisdom and merit.
The newcomer, possibly not ‘sold,’ either on his alcoholic status or the value to him of our Fellowship, can, by applying this dictum, eventually find himself on a hopeful road, built on firm ground.
He learns that the things he has in common with other alcoholics, the similarities, e.g. the lack of drinking control, the fears, the loneliness, the departure from or disruption of normal living, are far more indicative of his condition than are the irrelevancies, the differences in financial, educational, social standing or types of alcohol consumed.
In time too, he comes to learn that, as his illness is basically the same as that of other members, so too should be the effective ‘medicine’ for that illness, i.e. the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. True, he may vary the strength and frequency of the dosage to suit his individual needs, or alter the ratio of the ingredients, somewhat, but nevertheless, the value of the essential similarity, does, in time, become apparent.
I find, however, that there is yet another area in which I have to look for the similarities, if I wish to be restored to sanity and to make my sobriety more meaningful and content. I refer to the similarity in all essentials between myself and non-alcoholic members of the human race, which, on occasions I have been prone to either minimise or forget.
It is fatally easy at times, to concentrate on the differences how often have I heard (and said)? “People outside AA don’t understand the alcoholic.” An honest application of Step Ten often disclosed that my main grounds for complaint were that the said people understood this alcoholic too well for his own comfort.
It is easy too, to cast oneself as being of a race apart, moulded in finer clay than other more earthbound clods, to the much vaunted sensitivity of the alcoholic as an excuse for indulging various pet character defects, or for failing to accept responsibilities, particularly those of a mundane or uninteresting nature.
I must try to remember that these so called differences are largely mental phantoms, and that a stronger and more persevering approach to the program will reduce them to insignificance.
The only difference I should remember is the fact of my alcoholism not the fanciful embellishments on it, derived from wishful thinking. As for the similarities, I strive, I err, I encounter problems, I love, I experience joy, sorrow, and happiness so do the rest of humanity. I am, as was said long ago a part to above all, grateful to God and AA for this simple, yet wonderful, fact.