Recovery Connections

John Schwary is CEO of Transitional Living Communities, a 850-bed recovery program he founded in Mesa, Arizona January 9, 1992 when he had a year sober. He's in his 27th year of recovery.

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

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I often counsel those in our recovery program to not limit their thinking. I try to encourage them to look at all of the possibilities that exist in recovery. This conversation usually arises after someone tells me that all they want to do now is just stay sober. I tell them that staying sober is great. But I also point out that living in sobriety offers myriad possibilities, that new opportunities will open up for them. They will be able to live up to their full potential.

If someone had asked me when I had a year sober what my life would look like in five, 10, or 20 years, I would have drawn a small picture of what the future might hold. My goal at the time was to continue working a full time job, operate a 50 man halfway house as an avocation, and enjoy my sobriety. But God had other plans.

I quit my job within six months because the 50 man halfway house I had visualized turned into a 300 bed recovery program. Within five years there were more than 1000 clients and our operations spanned three states. At one time we were operating more than 10 businesses that provided employment for the clients and income for TLC.

The point is not to talk about our success today, but to encourage those in recovery to be the best they can be. Many of our clients have the idea that they might want to go back to school. They might want to establish a relationship with their estranged families. Or they perhaps want to revive a long abandoned career.

Whatever it is I encourage them to build on their foundation of sobriety and take steps toward their goals. After they have a year or so sober I suggest that they pick up the telephone if they want to reunite with their families. If they want to go to school, get a catalog, and start looking for grant money. Whenever their vision, I encourage them to take small steps to bring it to reality.

And the real thing they should do is to expand their thinking. Our Higher Power has plans for us. Our job is to live out those plans.