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, October 23, 2010

I was at a meeting at our Macdonald Street employment office while one of the clients was describing his day.

“It started out,” he said with irritation, “with me being abused by management.” He went on to tell the group about a couple of staff members who had confronted him because he woke late and hadn't gone to look for work. He was upset about how they talked to him.

When I identified myself as the program director he asked to speak to me after the meeting.

Once in my office he started to tell me the details of how he'd been treated. When I was able to interject I agreed that he must have been talked to in a manner he found objectionable. Otherwise he wouldn't have brought the topic up.

He seemed surprised that I didn't try to defend the staff members. Instead I asked about his role in the incident. I pointed out that no matter who is right or wrong there are usually at least two parties to a disagreement. I explained to him that when I disagree with someone I do better when I look at my part. No matter how minor that role might be, I had some part in the disagreement.

As the conversation went on his body language changed. He relaxed in his chair and the tension left his face.

He brought up his work history and success in the business world. Drug use brought him to our program. He seemed to be a bright fellow and I pointed out to him that, in my opinion, he only had one real problem: it was his addiction. When I put it that way he agreed with me.

I try to explain to our clients that if they simply focus on staying clean and sober then their lives will change. And I try to bring my own experience into the conversation. When I first got sober I was just happy to be sober and I focused on my program. While I was doing that other areas in my life began to improve. I found several employment opportunities. I was able to start making amends to those I'd harmed. I took joy every day in being clean and sober. While I maintained this focus God was doing things for me in other areas.

It wasn't long before I had a great job, I was able to buy an old car, and I reestablished a relationship with a former girlfriend. All of these things seemed to come to me without much effort on my part.