I wanted to laugh when I first heard the phrase “lower companions” mentioned in AA. It was so apt. When I was drinking and using, I surrounded myself with people who were as bad or worse off than I was. They made me feel normal, and in some cases superior. I told myself that these people were “real” or “free spirits” when in fact they were just drunks and addicts like I was. And their forthrightness that I prized so much was really more a lack of proper social filters. Once in a while my “companions” would leave the bars and parties where they belonged and show up at my workplace or out in public when I was with friends. Suddenly, I was quite embarrassed by them.
In sobriety, I have found the confidence and self-esteem necessary to seek out the company of people who are far brighter and more accomplished than I am. I want to learn from them. I do not compete for rank or class with anyone. It does not matter to me. I just want to improve my own knowledge and abilities. One of my most troubling character defects had been my tendency to compare myself to others. I immediately had to decide who ranked over whom. I rarely do that now. Sometimes I meet people who have great sobriety or excellent fitness and well-being in old age, and I want to be like them. I am neither above nor below any person in status. There are only those I want to help and those I want to emulate. We are all in it together, companions under a Higher Power.