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.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Pleasure and Pain

Human nature is to seek pleasure and avoid pain.

It's a hard-wired survival skill, one that's brought us from caveman days to where we are now. And it applies in many areas of our lives.

Eating is pleasurable and enables us to survive. Sex is a joy, and continues our species. Taking care of our loved ones brings us the pleasure of closeness to others.

And, of course, not having these things can be painful in varying degrees.

This part of our nature served us well throughout our history.

But for us addicts in today's world the seeking of pleasure and avoiding pain is an ongoing issue.

Because we have a low tolerance for pain of any kind.

If someone rejects us we interpret it to mean that everyone hates us and always will.

If we don't get the job we might interpret that to mean that we're an incompetent boob.

If we fail a test we might believe we're stupid, rather than admit we didn't study.

We addicts know how to escape this self-induced pain. Rather than recognize that life can be a bitch at times and accept the pain, we seek instant gratification.

We suck down some Jack Daniels. Or maybe snort a line. Smoke a rock. Cook up some black tar. We drown our misery in a chemical - or maybe a mix of chemicals.

Sooner or later though we have to come out of hiding. We have to face whatever realities we temporarily escaped.

And that's what recovery is about. In recovery - if we're one of the lucky ones - we learn that successful living incorporates both pain and pleasure.