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, September 21, 2014

Old Values

No matter how long I’m in recovery, I’m periodically challenged by instincts from my previous life.

For example, while backing out of Circle K the other day I gently ran my rear bumper into a car parked slightly out of my vision.

Irritated, I got out to assess the damage. I couldn't see marks on the other car because it had dings on all sides. Maybe a slight scuff on his left rear bumper? And my Prius? A six inch scratch on the right-hand rear corner – perhaps a few hundred dollars in repairs.

The driver must've been in the store, because no one was around. No witnesses.

And for a half second – to my surprise – I weighed the option of driving off.  Why? What was the point? I have great insurance. I have money in my pocket. And damage was so slight it was something I could settle between me and the other driver.

But I didn't leave. I waited. And moments later the car's owner and his girlfriend came out of the store.

I showed him my bumper, and then we looked at his car. He couldn't tell if I’d damaged it. So he looked surprised him when I put $50 in his hand. He thanked me for being honest and left.

Driving away, I realized that though I've been sober for almost 24 years, I still have remnants of programming, fragments of old code, from my past.

For years I lived as a predator, a life of corrupt values. I prowled the urban landscape looking to get over on others. Looking for something to steal. Something I could convert to heroin or alcohol.

And I've done my best to erase that part of my past with meetings and counseling. But once in a while old values bubble to the surface.

Yes, I override them. But sometimes I forget they're there and I'm surprised when they pop up.

We addicts must remain aware of who we are lest we revert to who we once were.

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