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, May 24, 2013

Find the Joy

We deal with some clients who define themselves by certain experiences and never grow from there. They’re frozen in a frame of reference, a template they apply to their lives today. They've let their experiences mold the rest of their lives.

For example, a veteran lives life based on his military duty. While service is honorable and meritorious, it’s sad to see a person use that as a reference point for the remainder of life. Particularly when his service was about preserving the freedom to be whatever he chose in life.

A client who divorced her husband because he was abusing their children defines her world years later based on what he did. She no longer trusts men. She distances herself from others. She lives in a cocoon of fear and mistrust.

When she speaks of her life, her conversation immediately veers to that experience as the touchstone for who she is now. And while what happened brought wrenching changes to her life, the idea that she became another victim of his behavior is another tragedy.

How do we help clients escape this half-life? This depressing, unrewarding existence?

Because some seem unaware of what they've done to themselves one way is to suggest they redefine themselves based on their lives today. Even if that life today sucks, at least in the present moment the can begin to do something to better it.

Life is not about history. It’s about being actualized and living in the present moment: where we can find the joy of living.