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.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

We're Only Messengers

Humility was the topic of TLC's monthly management meeting. As we went around the circle it became clear that a problem with being a manager at TLC is that sometimes our ego gets involved. We start thinking we’re important. We start believing we're the sobriety guru – and forget that we’re only messengers.

This idea, that we know something about sobriety simply because we’re volunteering to be managers, puts us in danger of relapse. Over the past 20 years experience has shown that when a manager starts becoming the authority on sobriety he's in danger. Instead of doing what got him sober in the first place - like going to meetings and having a sponsor - he somehow thinks his management position gives him special status. Some of us forget how we got where we are today.

I've learned in over 20 years of sobriety to keep it simple. Oftentimes newcomers to TLC approach me and seem to expect a secret handshake, or an exotic mantra that will bestow upon them the gift of sobriety. The secret I share is the one I learned when I first got in to sobriety: go to meetings, get a sponsor, and work the steps. That's what's worked for me for 20 years.

I often remind our staff about David J., a young manager who delivered rousing speeches about sobriety and recovery during house meetings. However, he kept relapsing, unable to apply the information he gave others to his own life. We finally barred him from management positions until he could achieve a period of sobriety. He never did get it right and was found dead in the desert a while back - surrounded by empty whiskey bottles.

If we pay attention to the basics of recovery we can enjoy the fruits of sobriety – and not die of our disease.