Here’s a little tale for you…
Logging on to the computer today I glance at Facebook. Several friends in a local on-line recovery group that I know saying things like “18months sober today. woohoo!”, “One whole year sober today. Thanks my terrific AA tribe”, “Nine years sober today I feel so blessed and grateful? Thank you for keeping me sober a day at a time”. I know each of these people personally and have seen them grow in the rooms of AA. I pop in a little comment of my own along the lines of “Congratulations!” “Well done!” “Great Achievement” … etc. I have a sense of uplifting pride and happiness when I read these status’s.
Now… put the boot on the other foot. Say somewhere I comment on something or someone asks how long I’ve been sober. I believe in being honest as that is part of the programme and telling people I’ve strung together a bunch of days, months, years, decades is I hope inspiring for them that it can continue to work. I’m about a month off my 4,000th day sober as I type this and less than two months from my 11th AA birthday (sober anniversary). Then people say “That is awesome!”, “What a great achievement”… etc. I then feel like a fraud and that my achievement is too small a thing not to be praised or acknowledged.
Daft isn’t it that on the one hand I’m happy, keen and wanting to praise others on their achievements thinking it a great testament to their desire to grow their recovery and to the programme they follow – AA or not. On the other my own achievement is a fraud, another thing in life where I’ve “got away with it”, “bluffed my way through”, etc. That is how I feel that my achievement isn’t as worthy as others as I clearly (in my mind) can’t have put in anywhere near the effort they have. I don’t just think like this about sobriety but in other aspects of my life too. I was talking about holidays with a colleague recently and mentioned that Mrs F and I are off for a long weekend over our wedding anniversary in the summer. “How many years?” they asked “30” I replied. “Crikey, that is some achievement. Well done.” Again instantly my thought was “they are easily impressed”… but that was all about playing down my achievement rather than questioning their judgement.
I often hear people in AA talk about a feeling of inferiority, about feeling less-than the rest of the world, that they continually “pull the wool over people’s eyes”. etc. Maybe this trait is not limited to those in recovery but it is something I identify with enormously and one I know has a large dose of hypocrisy connected to it. If I feel anyone’s sobriety is worthy of celebration and applause why then not my own?