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, December 24, 2011

Remembering Mom

I was in shock when the nurse called from the hospital Christmas Eve of 1994 to tell me my mother had passed away a few moments earlier. Even though she'd been in the hospital for 54 days, she was supposed to be discharged the next day in time for a Christmas celebration.

At her death I'd been in recovery nearly four years and she was proud of my progress. She'd stood by me from the time I was a teenager, not understanding my battle with addiction. She supported me with letters, periodic visits, and the few dollars she could afford during my 15 years of prison and jail. When I finally decided to leave California after another arrest she bought me the bus ticket for Phoenix.

A point of pride for me was that I was able to make financial amends to her before she died. But I could never make amends for the disappointments she suffered while I was using.

The longer I'm sober the more I realize the damage we do to others in our addictions. While we can make financial amends there are many things we can never repair. 

While I was a teenager my mother sacrificed to send me to a private high school. However, I was so wrapped up drinking and drugging that I was expelled after a year and a half when detectives came to the principal’s office to arrest me. She had hoped I would go on to college. But my disease got in the way. Between the ages of 16 and 26 I was only out of custody some 17 months. While she loved me, I sensed her disappointment.

This experience with my mother has made me a better counselor. When clients tell me they never hurt anyone but themselves while using I'm sometimes able to change their perspective. 

Our addictions always impact others.