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 24, 2010

"One day at a time," is a phrase often heard in 12 step meetings. To me, the concept means that I can stay sober and deal with the issues in my life today. I applied this concept yesterday, a Monday, several times. It seemed like everything happened all at once and in a jumble. Nothing happened on my schedule.

First, my sweetheart was out of town and undergoing a minor surgical procedure. Even though it was a minor procedure and had been planned for a couple of weeks it was still surgery and her welfare was on my mind.

Next, Jose the dog had been throwing up for two days and I had to have him at the veterinarian's office at 8:30 AM. At about the same time I was supposed to have Jose at the veterinarian's office, I was also supposed to be mailing some time sensitive documents. Since the post office opens before the veterinarian's office I planned to do that first. However, when I got to the post office, there were about 50 people in line. No problem. I would simply mail the documents at the local mailbox store in my neighborhood. But when I got there the sign on the door said it didn't open until 9 AM. Later in the day I was supposed to pick Jose up from the veterinarian's office at 4:30 PM. But that conflicted with a aftercare group I facilitate at 5:30 PM. Anyway, to shorten the story, my day was a confusing mess. There's a lot more I could add, but the point is that nothing happened the way I wanted it to or on my schedule.

Before I got clean and sober nearly 20 years ago yesterday's events would have pushed me over the edge . I would have gotten angry, drunk, or high -- probably all three. All of those minor dramas would have more than I could handle. But because I've been sober for a few 24 hours I'm able to break my life into short periods of time, little increments that I can deal with moment to moment. I'm able to take the concept one day at a time and, if necessary, reduce it to one minute at a time.

I pay attention to the small dramas in my life because they are the most deadly. Little challenges can destroy my serenity real fast. I often tell those in my aftercare group that I never got drunk over the big things. It was always the small stuff. The war in Iraq didn't bother me at all. Major disasters like tsunamis or earthquakes were nothing. But if I broke my shoe lace, or my car didn't start, that would be the end of it. I'd be off and running one more time.

Today I try to live in the moment and realize that life is as it's supposed to be. In God's world everything happens right on time.