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.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Having a Purpose

Sometimes a client says something that sticks with me.

One that stayed with me was when a man in group said he'd never been happier in his life. And it showed. He had a glow about him. A smile on his face. Everything that came out of his mouth was positive.

And it wasn't until later - in the middle of the night - that his statement soaked into my brain. Because from the outside he was a middle-aged man who'd spent much of his life in prison - and he had the old faded tattoos to show for it. He'd spent some years on the streets, living homeless. He owned nothing but his hand-me-down clothing and a few toiletries. He'd lost track of his family years earlier. He lived in one of our halfway houses with an entry level job.  Yet he was happy and acted like it.

The next time I saw him in group I asked about his statement. And to what he attributed his happiness.

And he said "for the first time I feel as if I have a reason for living. Helping others gives me a purpose. I'm around those who are pretty much like me. They had no friends or family when they came here. Their futures looked bleak. I'm starting to feel like part of a community."

And looking at it through his eyes, I understood. Happiness for him is about the basics. It's about belonging.

And that's what this man - like many others - had found at TLC.

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