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.

Sunday, June 28, 2015


The 12-step programs emphasize deflating the ego. And for good reason.

Because our inflated egos give us a lot of opportunities to fail. Many ways to get our feelings hurt.

Maybe we develop an inner dialog that goes something like "don't they know who I am?" That's ego. And trouble.

In our halfway houses we hear "I'm a grown ass man. They can't tell me what to do." More ego. More trouble.

The reality is that ego sets us apart from our fellow man. Builds walls. We often have clients who say they just want to be alone. To be by themselves. They don't need anyone. No one to tell them what to do.

But we all need each other in every sense of the word. Unless we become a survivalist and live off the land we need others.

We need them for the tangible.  We need those who grow our food. Build our highways. Our cars. Make our clothes. Who sell us food.  Run our schools. We'd be in poor shape without those who bring power to our houses.

And we need them for the intangible.  To sponsor us.  To listen to our problems.  To prop us up when we're weak. To cheer us on in the face of challenges.

Each of us depends upon others . And to think that we're important - or better than them - is an ego fantasy that creates suffering.

I keep ego in check by recalling how I trashed half of my life before embarking upon recovery. I keep it in perspective by thinking of the angels who protected my life in the drug underworld.  I remember how pitiful and needy I was when I showed up on the steps of a Mesa, Arizona detox unit.

As CEO of TLC people give me credit for helping others. And I quickly let them know that our success came from those who rallied around to make the TLC project the success it is today.

My world is made up of "we," not "I."