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, March 13, 2016


When I first started going to 12 step meetings a volunteer would usually read The Promises at the end of the meeting.

And to me they sounded like a fairy tale. Something made up to encourage us to stick around and stay sober for a while. Maybe we'd stay just because we hoped a couple of them would come true.

But now - 25 years later - I can say that all of them have come true.

Not in a dramatic way. But most of them at an almost unnoticeable, glacial pace. One day a few years ago I read them and realized they described my life today.

For example, number 9 reads "Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change." But for me that one was a stretch. Because for most of my life I'd had negative experiences that seemed to make my attitude and outlook worse, rather than better.

And number 8 says "Self seeking will slip away." That was another one that was hard to believe. Because all I'd done all my life was seek self gratification and pleasure. And at the cost of nearly everything else, including my freedom. Yet today, I find myself thinking of the welfare of others. And it just started happening as the months and years of sobriety piled up.

There's something about the 12-step programs that changes a person's philosophy and belief system. Sometimes without him or her even being aware of it.

And when I first discovered that each of those promises had come true I was surprised that they happened exactly as written - and almost without me noticing.