Recovery Connections

John Schwary is CEO of Transitional Living Communities, an 850-bed recovery program he founded in Mesa, Arizona January 9, 1992, when he had a year sober. He's in his 28th year of recovery.

In these posts, he views life mostly through the lenses of recovery. While the blog is factual, he often disguises events and people to protect anonymity.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Yesterday I was thinking of my mother, who passed away 16 years ago on Christmas Eve. She is one of the people to whom I owe a debt for my sobriety. Nearly 28 years ago she had no idea what I was going through with my life. She knew I was a mess because I was in and out of trouble on a regular basis.

In July of 1982, I had just been released from jail for another drug-related offense. My mother, once more in despair, asked me what I needed to do to change my life.

"I need to get out of town," I responded, using what little logic I had at the time.

"Where do you want to go?"

"I'm thinking about Las Vegas," I told her.

"Not a good idea."

"Maybe Phoenix then," I said.

Anyway, we finally agreed that I should go to Phoenix. My mother gave me $300 to finance the trip and took me to the bus depot. It was one of the best things that ever happened to m because in Phoenix I finally ran into myself and realized that it didn't matter where I live. It really mattered what I was doing about my addictions.

After I was in Phoenix for a while I found myself in a detoxification unit, courtesy of the city. Even though I wasn't ready to change it was the beginning of an odyssey that ended up with me getting sober a few years later. If it hadn't been for my mother's interventions I might have died in Orange County, California of my disease.

November 1, 1994 my mother went to the hospital for a minor surgical procedure. She didn't leave the hospital alive. The minor surgical procedure developed complications that resulted into her passing away suddenly on Christmas Eve. It was a devastating time for me, because I lost one of my best friends. She had supported me through prison, addiction, treatment and through many of the ups and downs of my young life. While she didn't understand what was going on with me, she had an unquestioning love that helped me change my life.

I think of her often, especially during the Christmas season.