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.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

25 Years Ago

Twenty five years ago today my gut was cramping in a detox on Bellview Street in Mesa, Arizona.

I was 51 years old and sweat was coming out my pores as I started withdrawals. My brain and body craved heroin and alcohol. My bones ached. A black cloud of demoralization hung over my head. Time seemed to crawl.

Part of me wanted to bolt for the door. The only thing that kept me on that bed was that I knew. I knew that more pain and misery awaited me out on those cold December streets.

And before I walked through that door I'd had enough pain. Enough misery. I'd had nightmares of being back in prison forever. I was sick of the anxiety of finding the next fix. Of looking where I could steal the next bottle. Of finding anything to steal to survive another day.

I'd reached a point where I said I was willing to do whatever it took to change.

I had stream of consciousness monologues with myself: "Yes, I'm an alcoholic. I'm an addict. I'm willing to do whatever it takes. Meetings. Treatment. Halfway houses. Low-end jobs. Whatever it takes to change."

I don't know if pain brings on a spiritual awakening. But if it does then I had one. I was beat into submission. I had willingness. I did what was suggested.

After eleven days I went to a halfway house and stayed a year. Because I liked how the kind people there took me in with no money I decided to do what they did and started TLC.

Today I live the promises. I have a loving wife. Loving friends. My family is back. I have more stuff than I ever dreamed of having.

Twenty five years ago all I came for was to get clean and sober. But God gave me that and much more. Thank you.

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