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, January 23, 2016

Escaping Pain

When I first entered recovery 25 years ago I just wanted the pain to stop. I had no real plans beyond that. Just stop the pain.

There were no grandiose ideas about getting back into the business world. Once more becoming a top salesman. Having a nice apartment. A great income. A sports car. A relationship. None of that. It was about escaping the painful life I was living. That was all.

But after a few months in a halfway house I knew I had to do something with my life. I had a young daughter to provide for. Back child support to pay. Amends to make.

But I wanted to do more than make a living. I'd done that most of my life. But it didn't keep me sober. I needed to have meaning - a purpose - for being alive.

And I needed to do something that was compatible with my recovery. A former employer had hired me back and was paying me survival wages. But my heart was no longer in the corporate realm.

So I decided to start a small recovery program on the side. Maybe a few houses with fifty or so beds. Sort of an avocation to keep me involved with what was - and is - important in life. Living sober.

And I bring this up because a client gave me a card a few days ago - thanking me for starting TLC. It was a nice card, containing gratitude and sentiment. And I appreciated it. It sort of portrayed me as self-sacrificing, as more giving than I was at the time.

But the truth is that I started this program to save myself. And it has worked - I've stayed pain-free and sober 25 years.

The fact that others also got help over the years is an additional blessing. An unexpected result of a drug addict trying to escape the cycle of pain and misery.

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