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 25, 2010

Sometimes I find heroes in the most ordinary of places. I was talking the other day to a man who works at a retail establishment where I go early in the morning two or three times a week. Until last week, I had only spoken to him a few times, mostly just saying hello and goodbye.

But the other day I got into a conversation with him, and asked him how he liked working the night shift. During the conversation I found out he had custody of his five children. They ranged from 10 to 19 years old. He was raising them as a single parent and was working two jobs to support them. A couple of the older children were helping him out with the two youngest.

He went on to explain that their mother was a drug user who was unable to take care of the kids. He said that even though it was tough, he loved his children and wanted to raise them right and not under the influence of an addicted mother.

His experience resonated with me. I had also obtained custody of a daughter who was living in a perilous situation. I raised her as a single parent from the time she was seven until she went into the Army at age 18. It was one of the best experiences of my life. Oh yes, it was tough at times dealing with the hormone induced emotional changes of a teenage daughter. But I came through on the other side a much better human being. And I have a lot more respect for single mothers who are struggling to raise children by themselves.

While I thought I did pretty good raising one child I can't imagine what a daunting task it would to raise five children by myself.

One of the blessings of living sober is that we are able to face the challenges of day-to-day life. Like I said at the beginning, this man is one of my heroes.