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.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Losing it All. A Good Thing?

            "I lost my wife. I lost my job. I lost my house.  I picked up a DUI. My life is ruined," lamented a newcomer to TLC.

            "That's wonderful!" said the manager while doing his intake. "That'll make it a lot easier for you to do the first step."

            "What do you mean?" The newcomer asked, not believing what he had heard.

The manager explained that once life becomes a train wreck it's easy to realize how powerless we are. We no longer have an illusion of control. We’ve given everything to the dope man or the bartender. When we lose our house, our job, our health, our relationships - maybe our freedom - there's not a lot to say about how much control or power we have. Unmanageability has come to the forefront, slapped us in the face, and taken everything we have.

Once a man showed up at TLC in only a bathing suit. In these situations there’s an aura of humility about an applicant. He can no longer deny that drugs and alcohol took everything.  It's difficult for him to say how wonderful life was. When clients start out at the bottom - with nothing - they’re convinced drinking and drugging didn't work – at least for the present moment.

Sometimes, once the client starts working the program, obtains a job, and starts feeling better he - may start getting the idea he does have power over his disease – that maybe it wasn't so bad out there after all. 

But those of us who remain sober for any period of time remember the demoralization of that last day of drinking and drugging:  it helps keep us focused on our sobriety.