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.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Reflecting on the Past

Sometimes discussions of the past reminds me how deeply mired I was in my addiction.

While at a family reunion during the Christmas holiday one of my older children – both of whom were raised by raised by their mother – asked how I felt when she was born, when I first saw her.

I could've made up a scenario that I'm sure would've made her feel good. But being in recovery doesn’t allow me to do that. So I told her the truth: that the only thing I remember was a general feeling of happiness that I had a new daughter. But beyond that I don't recall anything. I don't remember the hospital she was born in. I don't know the city she was born in. And I don't remember the time of day.

During those years my priorities were to put as much heroin and alcohol as I could in my body, to the exclusion of all else. Nothing took priority over that. Not jobs. Not relationships. Not my family. Not even my freedom. I was a totally self-centered alcoholic/heroin addict.

Today my relationship with my children is relatively good, at least from my point of view. We have a couple of family reunions a year. One in Las Vegas between Christmas and New Year's, the other at the beach in San Diego. And we communicate regularly, at least weekly.

I've done what I can to make amends to my two older children – the ones who suffered from my addiction. But there are no amends that can sufficiently make up for missed birthday and Christmas celebrations and other things that parents should do.

Even though the pain of the injury may be forgiven or forgotten, sometimes a small scar remains as a reminder.

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