Recovery Connections

John Schwary is CEO of Transitional Living Communities, an 850-bed recovery program he founded in Mesa, Arizona January 9, 1992, when he had a year sober. He's in his 28th year of recovery.

In these posts, he views life mostly through the lenses of recovery. While the blog is factual, he often disguises events and people to protect anonymity.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Unhappy Neighbor

While driving to lunch Saturday I saw a for sale by owner sign in front of a run-down house. It was a few doors from one of our recovery homes.

Curious, I called the number on the sign. During my conversation with the owner I mentioned we owned a property up the street from hers.

"I know who you are," the lady on the other end of the line said. "I've been fighting you for years."

Her remark piqued my curiosity. I haven't fought anyone for years. And I had no idea who she was.

She went on to explain that because we operated a halfway house in the neighborhood she was unable to rent to "nice people." That's why she was selling.

Many years ago that remark would’ve angered me. But I've long since accepted that neighbors don't understand what happens in our recovery homes.

The residents have jobs. There’s no fighting or threats. No drugs or alcohol. No sex offenders allowed. Many positive things happen in our program. But I didn’t bother telling her about them because her perception would have blocked what I had to say.

Anyway, she said she would no longer fight. She went on to say that if we agreed on a price she'd sell us the house.

As I drove away I noted that the best looking houses on the block were the ones occupied by our recovery home residents.

The yards are beautiful. There are no broken down cars. The people living there are clean, sober, and neatly dressed.

But I realized as I drove away that neighborhood fears about alcoholics and addicts are hard to change.