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.

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Present - it's a Gift


Many of us addicts waste precious hours and minutes in the past.

We rummage around in a dark warehouse of moldy memories, prodding them, poking them, trying to rearrange them so maybe they look better when we return for one of our frequent visits.

We're hoarders who haven’t cleared out the junk. Soon the pile is high and disorganized and we can’t see what’s there. We know it’s a mess. Often it’s a mess we can’t sort it out. We hardly know where to begin cleaning out this warehouse.

All memories aren’t bad. Some could be highlights of our lives. About times when things were great. When we had a good job. Or happily married. When we were succeeding in school.   Maybe about the military. Some good stuff.

But while our warehouse may also contain good memories it’s not worthwhile to live with them either. If we want a serene existence, a productive and fulfilling life, we're in the moment – the gift the universe gave us when our heart made its first tentative beat.

It seems that 95% of what I hear in counseling is stuff about the past. When I attempt to drag them to the moment they’re not comfortable. Because living in the moment strips us of our excuses. Living in the past is a rationale for our bad behavior. Being there, I can dredge up excuses about how I came to a treatment program. How I wrecked my life. Why I'm no good.

Freedom is living the moment – but it comes with responsibility for our behavior. If I stay present I can only blame myself for the outcomes.

And I might also stay sober.