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.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The e-mail surprised me. It was from a former client that many of us didn't expect to see again. When he left us in mid-2007, he had relapsed and some of us didn't think he would survive.

It is not unusual for clients to leave because they have relapsed – and many of them return to try again. But this man's situation was unique. He had lost his kidneys a few years before entering our program. He had previously received a transplant which didn't work. He received dialysis a few times a week during his time at TLC. He struggled with his health and fought the doctor's instructions that he shouldn't drink sodas. To many of us, the idea that someone without kidneys would start using again demonstrated for us the power of our disease.

His e-mail said he had been sober for three years, was in town on vacation, and would like to drop by the office. It was a good visit and he told how his life is going. He lives in another state with his fiancee and will soon graduate from nursing school. He goes to dialysis a few times a week and is on a transplant waiting list for a new kidney.

I asked how he had finally changed and was able to remain sober for over three years. He explained that he started accepting his situation and that made all the difference. He said that once he got into acceptance his life began to change. He accepts the hours-long drudgery of being hooked to a machine. Sometimes he reads, sometimes he studies, sometimes he naps. His life has been working and he is enjoying his sobriety.

It says on page 417 in the literature that “acceptance is the answer to all my problems today.”

It seems like this former client has successfully incorporated the concept into his life.