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.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The young lady in one of our aftercare groups was angry and frustrated. She had a list of things about which she was terribly unhappy:

– She was from another state and hadn't seen her child in some time.

– She didn't like all the commitments she had as part of her responsibilities in the house.

– She thought we had handled a donation to our program in an inappropriate manner.

There were about six other things on her list, too many to enumerate here. And she concluded her list with the comment that "I've been sober for four and a half months. I believe I've earned the right to do less."

When I hear statements like this I realize the speaker has a problem with gratitude. I told her that she probably didn't want to get what she had earned or deserved. She seemed puzzled. I went on to explain that we addicts and alcoholics have done much damage in the world. We have harmed our families by not being there for them. We have harmed our communities by not working and not being participants. We perhaps have harmed our children by not being there.

Many in our program might dispute this. They will say that they haven't assaulted anyone. They haven't stolen from anyone. Maybe they haven't been in jail or lost a job. But they don't realize that there's more to it than that. In our addictions we have neglected those around us. We haven't been fully present for them. We missed family celebrations. We weren't present when they really needed us.

We were in love with or drugs and alcohol. That was our priority.