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.

Monday, April 18, 2016

It's our Choice

When we bring our child home from the hospital it is with joy and gladness in our hearts.

Doe's he look more like me? His dad? His grandfather? We watch every move. to make sure he's covered. Take lots of pictures. We make sure that he keeps his medical appointments. And we're happy when the doctor says our baby is in perfect health.

But the doctor can't see into future. Nor can we. None us were able to see years ahead when this aberration pops up. This disease that takes control of his life - seemingly overnight.

One moment he's like any other kid. Getting decent grades. Playing sports. Chasing girls. The next his grades are falling. The police bring him home one night. He lies about the black eye he got because he didn't pay the connection for the oxies he got on credit.

Then we go into the next phase. We blame ourselves for this change in behavior. We didn't do enough, maybe? Or too much. We did our best? Or did we? Maybe we should have taken him to church, Or moved to another neighborhood.

The guilt and shame and puzzlement piles up. What to do? We've gone through money getting him to treatment and to shrinks. Nothing has helped.

Our health and finances are failing. Yet we still don't have answers. And we don't stop to think about the obvious one: that maybe his addiction is his choice. His fault. After all, we're not Gods. We're only parents. And the inexplicable happens to everyone. Good people and bad people all get ground up equally beneath the wheels of chance.

What to do? We can pray. We can put him on the streets where the rest of the addicts end up. Or we can live in self-condemnation and guilt while still supporting him.

But we must remember that we also have a life to live. And we need to make our choices: guilt and shame about something we can't control - or happiness that we still make choices that are in our own benefit.

It's our choice.