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.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Halfway? Or all the Way?

When I went to detox January 14, 1991 I had a plan. Once I got sober I’d go to a halfway house and spend 30 days there. I’d get a job, a car, a cheerleader for a girlfriend, and then back on the fast track with my life. 

But somehow, life intervened. After 30 days at the halfway house I realized I didn't know much about living sober. While I had a job and was paying my way, I had no money saved. I didn't have a car - or even a bicycle. My wardrobe was Salvation Army. So I made a commitment to stay for 90 days. By then I'd surely have it all together.  Wrong again.

When I had 90 days, I discovered I needed a sponsor. And I was still struggling with the fourth step. I'd bought a bicycle and had a fairly decent job. But I didn't have enough money to get my own apartment or put a down payment on a car. So at 90 days I still wasn't ready to leave – and I made a commitment to stay for six months.

However that decision created a problem with my then girlfriend, who had several years of sobriety. She thought I'd been in the halfway house long enough and wanted me to live with her. She wasn't happy when I told her my sponsor didn't think it was the best idea – that I needed to stay and work on my recovery. And that's what I did.

At six months I wasn't ready either. So I decided to stay a year. I did this after taking an honest look at my life and realizing a year was a small investment. After all, I'd spent 51 years screwing my life up. What was an investment of 12 months if it helped me get my life back on track?

 I don't believe we can pursue alcohol or drugs for years, then repair the damage in weeks or months. Even today I'm recovering from my disease - both physically and psychologically. I did a lot of damage in 40 years of using.

But the year I stayed in a halfway house is the best investment I ever made. Today I have a beautiful wife, a great job working in recovery, and all the promises we read about in the 12-step literature.