Lower Companions

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.

Photo Courtesy of Tom S
Photo Courtesy of Tom S

20 thoughts on “Lower Companions

  1. Thank you Zuzu for the reminder of what it used to be like and what it is now, along with the solution. Today as I was shopping, someone from 20 years ago who I’d spent scary alcohol/drug crazed times with, noticed me in the store. He hadn’t changed a bit. He smelled like a skid row dumpster, and I’d put on 40 pounds. We made eye contact and as we did, I nodded my head, and then my daughter saw, and asked how I knew the guy. All I had to say was ….he’s from 20yrs ago-and she knew. I wasn’t ashamed. AA literature suggests that we “do not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it.” Sometimes when people reference that bit of the lit they sound as though they are following (or issuing) an order. But it’s not. It is not an order to follow — it is a result. Specifically the result of working the 12 Steps (its a particular result promised before you are “half way through” Step 9.) For me, this result is also rooted in the beginning of the 12 Steps, and understanding the disease concept of alcoholism. To express how I understand this with a metaphor: Someone who spent the first 20 years of their life in a wheelchair may think wistfully about what it might have been like to grow up free from that confinement — but they probably don’t get angry with themselves for not having spent their childhood in ballet or track — because it’s not that they didn’t do those things (and thus “wasted” that time/opportunity), it’s that they couldn’t do those things. The same is true for me when I understand the disease concept of alcoholism, and when I take the first step in understanding how powerless I am over it. It’s not that I didn’t do healthier, better things — it’s that at that time in my life I couldn’t do them. And finally, if I like who I am now, then nothing that happened before is really worth regretting. Hugs and Love and a happy day to all ♥

    • Sister, you answered the very question I had in mind. “I couldn’t” is the answer. Thank you. Love, Oggy

  2. I Like who I am today too. I am a good kind hearted man who can do some things well but always seeking more. More can be a good thing and I know i can be nicer to even more people. This morning i started my day with prayer but i said it out loud and teared up again, just a little. It was very powerful for me to thank God out loud and hear myself thanking him and asking him for knowledge of his will for me and the power to carry that out. That pic this morning reminds me of the paradoxes and contradcitions in the program or how we used to be and what happened and what we are like now. i could write a book on that picture alone but won’t. I have too many other things to do today like work and helping the new ole friend, momma too. Life is good and yesterday this local man of much wealth took me to lunch and bought mine. I must be doing something right and i owe it to all you here and the others here in the program and of course God. Sending love and prayers to all for great day.

  3. Zuzu the Irony is when I can into A.A. I found the same people. Different faces and names but still the same people, and with a hell of a different purpose in life. For somwe of them the first real purpose they ever had.

  4. I’d never heard the term “lower companions”. I did like to be around other people who drank and used so that I could convince myself I was totally normal. I also liked to focus on others’ problems as a diversion from any looking at myself. I did that for so long that my problems piled up and became a mountain of wreckage. I’m so glad that I can look at myself and my issues with honesty today. Its still difficult but I now see the value in it.

  5. I envy those who can walk away from their drinking buddies and watering holes in order to stay sober. I liked to drink alone, so my lower companion was my ego. She followed me everywhere and I saw her staring at me in the mirror telling me that drinking was my cure; it would solve all my problems. When I stopped drinking I couldn’t stop going to my old hangouts, because that was my home. I couldn’t give up my drinking buddies, because that was me. I did let go of my ego. I have had to drastically change my routines around my home to break my patterns of drinking. My home is becoming a place to live life, rather than just a place to drink and try to survive.

  6. I’ve never found a reason to envy another alcoholic’s struggle to give up their old life. I cannot fathom their journey. No matter what it looked like on the outside I can always relate to the fact that it is an extremely difficult battle in some way to turn away from everything we have known and try something entirely foreign.

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