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, May 25, 2013

Making Mistakes

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered; forgive them anyway.” Mother Teresa

Over the years at TLC we've tried to help clients in recovery by training them as managers. By doing this we allow them to work in a safe environment where they give back.

In probably 90% of the instances this procedure has worked well. Those we help generally reward us by being loyal employees. Some have developed the confidence to go out and pursue a career. Or else go to school. Maybe start their own business. And some simply stay with TLC; a few have been here for more than a decade. And those who have been here that long have been rewarded by being able to have homes and secure jobs – and most important: to remain sober and clean.

But once in a while I make mistakes. And that happened a year ago when I tried to help a client I thought had potential.  He was bright and educated, with an advanced degree. Plus, I believed he had a fire for change. So I tried to mentor him.

For a while things went well. Because he lacked skills in dealing with clients I tried to teach him. I encouraged him to care for his health and lose weight. In some areas he did well. And in others it seemed that it was going to take a lot of work for him to change.

In any event, he finally worked his way into an area where he had trust and responsibility. And that's when I learned I’d made a serious mistake. Within a short time I found he not only was getting high, but was also stealing. And lying. And having inappropriate relationships with clients. The list goes on.

Today we’re repairing the damage, trying to get things back to normal.  Which we will.

And did I learn anything from this? Probably not a lot. Just a reaffirmation that sometimes people aren’t ready.

But I remain an eternal optimist who has faith in people's ability to change.  So I’m already looking for someone to fill his spot.