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.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Letting Go of the Past

I'm sitting in my car at a 12-step meeting, waiting for the doors to open, when a man drove up beside me in a pickup.

I greeted him and asked how his day was going. At that point he put his head down and started crying. So I got out of my car and went to the side of his vehicle and began talking to him, asking what was going on.

He said he'd lost his job the day before. He then told me how unfair the whole process was, the way the company let him go. He also mentioned that his wife passed away and I told him that I was sorry to hear that. I asked him how long ago.

He then took some papers from his pocket and showed me her picture. He said she'd passed away 15 years earlier.

He needed a meeting because he thought he might drink, even though he'd been sober 15 years. Then a few minutes later he told me that he only drank a beer once in a while, but that he hadn't done drugs in 15 years.

At this point I'm confused. But it seemed he had a lot of things bothering him so I listened until the meeting started.

Afterward, as I was driving home, I thought about him carrying the picture of a woman who died 15 years earlier. While everyone has the right to grieve and remember their loved ones as they choose, I wondered how healthy it was for him to do that.  How much was his focus on the past affecting him now?

After all, I believe those who have passed on want me to live as fully as I can at this moment. I think they want me to lead a productive and happy life. And not spend an inordinate amount of time in morbid reflections of the past.

Even though I love and miss them, today I live in the moment.  I wish the same for this man.

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