Recovery Connections

John Schwary is CEO of Transitional Living Communities, an 900-bed recovery program he founded in Mesa, Arizona January 9, 1992, when he had a year sober. He's in his 30th year of recovery.

In these posts, he views life mostly through the lenses of recovery. While the blog is factual, he often disguises events and people to protect anonymity.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Raising Children

Perhaps one of the greatest ways to express our love to another person is to share a child with them. Our love for one another is really a test of what kind of people we are. Bringing a child into the world, ensuring regular feeding, bathing, caring, and responsibility with the other parent is one of the greatest gifts we can give to our society.
I'm sure you've all heard people say that babies don't come with instruction manuals. And in the strictest sense of the word they don't. But if we ourselves were brought up in halfway decent homes our parents taught us how to live and treat others by their own examples.  Our instruction  manual  is the things we observe in our parents,

Childhood abuse and trauma teaches that many children grew up not knowing right from wrong.  And many of them not caring about the difference.  And that is why we have so many addicts and alcoholics living homeless on our streets.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Happy Thirty

January 13 of 1991 I entered a detoxification unit in Mesa, Arizona.

But I still get confused about when my sobriety date is. And I'm probably trying to figure it out. Today is the 13th, the same day I entered the detox. But I didn't have 24 hours sober until the next day, the 14th. So which is it? Is it the 13th? Or is is the 14th, when I had my first 24 hours? Or does it make a lot of difference and am I making a big deal out of nothing at all? It's probably the latter.

I know that I have received some really sweet greetings today, congratulating me on my 30 years. I love all of you who sent me messages because they warmed my heart. And after 30 years, what difference does a day make?

One of the things that I've really missed during this last year's pandemic is attending live meetings. Now a lot of the meetings in our town make sure that people are wearing masks and that they are are 6 feet apart. And my next question is always "and where did they get their medical degree?"

I have only gone three places in the last year. My home. My office. And the supermarket. And so far I haven't caught the disease. I believe what epidemiologists say about staying out of large groups. Up until this pandemic started I never went a week without attending one or two meetings. And I always spoke on the anniversary of my recovery.

But I learned early in my recovery that the only thing I can really count on is change.  The kinds of changes that have happened during this past year.

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Saturday, January 9, 2021

Who Me?

I know a fellow who's the picture of health who wss hit with Covid 19 a few days ago.  And he actuallly seemed surprised that the virus had knocked him on his butt.  And I was kind of surprised also because this guy is pretty athletic and works seven days a week.  Plus he's never sick.

But looking back it doesn't surprise me  Because he sort of poopooed the mask idea and only wore it when at work.  In other words when it was really forced on him.

So far I haven't got it and I don't want to,  'Even though I hate wearing a mask I do it anyway.  I don't go anywhere other than to my office.  I don't go to parties or social events. Too msny healthy people have fallen to this disease,  If there's something that dangerous that can't be seen with the naked eye who am I to think I can outsmart it?

I'll take any advice I can that make sense when it comes to staying healthy - and keep my fingers crossed,

Click here to email John

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Sober vs Using Relationships

 I very seldom write about former clients. First of all, I don't stay in touch with many of them. And then there's the thing about confidentiality. But I do have a few former clients I am still friends with.

And tonight, I was talking with one of them that I had just recently gotten in touch with after several years.

And for some reason, even though I come up with a topic every three days for a new blog, tonight I was sort of uninspired. So I asked him to come up with a creative idea for me. And he suggested I write about the difference between relationships when we're sober versus relationships when we were using drugs or alcohol. At first I didn't like the idea but then this is a guy who has been in literally hundreds of relationships.

When he was with us over 20 years ago everyone in the halfway house was amazed at his ability to attract women. It seemed like every morning and every night he had a different date. One woman would pick him up and take him to work, then another one would bring him home. After that another one would pick him up and take him to dinner. Women used to bring him so many gifts that the house manager banned  him from accepting gifts from women.  

Aside from being attractive, he also had a natural sense of humor, plus he was a high-level martial artist who was at that time a skilled kickboxer. He had the verbal skills to become a manager at a local telemarketing company, which are ordinarily staffed with plenty of twentysomethings – the perfect environment for someone like him.

So now to the part of being in relationships when we're sober versus relationships when were using. And the key part of this last sentence is using. Because all of us addicts know that we use everyone in the world for our own gratification, regardless of how they feel about us. He did it. I did it. And I'm sure you all did it too when you had the opportunity.

We addicts are a very self-centered species, a species that must feel good all the time. And if we need to misuse those around us – including our women friends – we do it because our addiction comes first.

I remember a woman who took care of my heroin habit for some 13 years, until she went broke and lost her house and everything else. After I got clean and sober I began to make amends to her. She was about seven years older than I was and she became sick and had little means of support. But after I got sober and became a sort of decent human being I began to support her and pay her bills anonymously. I never did tell her the money came from me but she figured out eventually that I was her benefactor and was surprised and grateful. Because the only side of me she had ever seen was the side that misused everyone around me.

So to answer my friend's question about the difference between sober and using relationships it's really quite simple: sober relationships are about giving to your partner. Giving to your partner does not necessarily mean material things. We give her our compassion. We rub her neck when she is stressed out. We take the time to listen to her. We do whatever we can to make her life better.

Using relationships are about taking everything you can get your hands on.  We don't care about how they feel. We don't care what they want – as long as we get what we want. Every thing about a using relationship is me, me, me. If I'm drunk or high enough I may give her a few minutes of my time though she can't count on it.

And that's the difference between using relationships and sober relationships.

Click here to email John

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Last Year

 I saw on the news today that some 350,000 Americans have died after becoming infected with the coronavirus. And thousands more are being infected each day.

This time last year none of us could imagine that a tsunami-like disease would race around the globe and infect a large swath of the population. But the good news is that the most vulnerable among us are being inoculated against the disease. One prominent immunologist said by the end of August our country should achieve what is known as "herd immunity" where the bulk of the population will be protected against the disease. Although this is a well-known and publicized scientific reality I'm skeptical enough to say let's just wait and see. As if we had any choice.

I often mention in these blogs the importance of living in the moment. Of living in this day. Of enjoying the moment because the reality is that all any of us have is this moment that our Creator has given us. And I believe that we should savor it, enjoy it, and do something constructive with it.

Because I work in the world of recovery world I often consult with clients who have what they consider to be serious issues. But once they sit down across the desk from me they get a different perspective on what's bothering them. Probably 90% of the time, if not more, the only issue the client is having is that he or she is not living in the present moment.

The client is either looking off in the future, catastrophizing about what disasters might befall them. Or else they're sorting through the wreckage of their past, wondering where they went wrong and feeling bad about what they did to make them feel so depressed.

My answer to them is always the same: live in and enjoy the moment because that's all we can count on. We never know when a pandemic or plague or some other unheard of disaster might befall us. But it is better to live in the moment and not dwell on the unknown. That way we're not wasting our precious time, the one thing that we can never recover.

Click here to email John

Thursday, December 31, 2020

A New Year

Happy New Year! to all.  And hopefully it wll be better than the last.

I don't need to dwell on pandemics, economic downturns, riots, fires, and political squabbles.  That's because anyone reading this was right there with me.

Many of you lost loved ones or had family members who contracted the disease.  None of the older people in my family got the virus, though two of my grandchildren were hit wth it.  However, they came through it with their health intact.  For which I am grateful.

So did we learn anything this past year?  I think that most of my close ones learned that life can suddenly turn very serious through no fault of our own. Life just sometimes happens.  How we respond and get to the other side of challenges is what's more important.

I think that at first the youngsters in my family didn't think the virus would affect them.  Then they were the only ones who got it. They now seem a little more humble.  And being humble is what we get when times can become hard.

I have a positive outlook on this next year because I see new medical solutions arriving and some people becoming more careful about distancing and wearing masks.  All of a sudden we are viewing life as more serious.

I miss meetings and I miss socializing, but I try to follow what the medical people suggest.  My world is pretty much limited to my home office, business office and a limited amount of food shopping, And until I get the vaccine that's the way it will.  

I pray that you all have a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year.

Click here to email John

Monday, December 28, 2020

Christmas Present

Either tomorrow or the next day I'm getting myself a Christmas present; I'm leasing a 2021 Dual Motor Tesla plus.  Not that there's anything wrong with my old one, except it's a 2016 model and it's starting to show a little bit of wear and tear. Plus my lease is up on January 13 so I had to make a decision between buying the car or leasing a new model. After a few days reflection I opted for the new model.

One of the reasons I opted for the new model is that Tesla has a habit of adding new technology which it downloads over the Internet and I want to be driving a model that's equipped for the new things that are coming up, such as hands-free driving and a 400 mile driving range before having to recharge. Plus it will reach 60 mph in 2.3 seconds. Something no other production car in the world will do unless it's another Tesla.

This will be the fourth Tesla that I have leased.. The three cars I had prior to that were Toyotas, the Prius model. So why did I decide to go from an inexpensive car that was very economical to the fastest production car in the world?

Someone might say that it was about my ego. And there may be a little bit of that mixed in there. After all, there's nothing like being a senior citizen who owns a vehicle that can outpace nearly every other stock car on the road. Another thing I like about the vehicle is that it only requires servicing once a year. Because it's completely electric the only thing I can put in the vehicle is windshield wiper fluid and air in the tires. It also only has four gears: drive, reverse, neutral, and park.

Another reason I leased the car is that I spend very little money on myself. I live in the same house I've owned for 21 years. And sometimes people tell me why don't I get a bigger house because I could afford it. But I'm actually thinking about getting a smaller house or even a condominium because I don't like to have a lot of stuff to take care of. 

I'm a person who buys only things that I like, whether other people like them or not. I do much of my clothes shopping at Walmart, Amazon, Old Navy. I don't dress to impress. I dress to be comfortable, which is the way I think we all should live our lives – but that's something that's none of my business. I just know that people aren't going to like me any better no matter how much I spend on clothing or housing or cars. So I choose to be comfortable with what I purchase and don't worry about impressing others.

Click here to email John