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.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Being like our Father

My father was a raging alcoholic who mistreated everyone. And for that reason, I never wanted to be like him. I burned the image of him into my brain – the person I didn’t want to be. I focused my hatred upon him.

Unfortunately, except for his violence, I became pretty much just like him. He had alcohol hidden all over our property.  And when I became an adult, so did I. He was always drunk. And so was I. No matter how hard I tried, I became just like him in so many ways.

And I share this memory with you because I see this scenario play itself out with a lot of addicts and alcoholics. They become the person they focus on not being.

As an example, I see the same scenario playing out with a young man that I've known since he was a child. All during his formative and teen years his mother was addicted to something. It was either pills, or methamphetamines, or whatever was available. While one part of him wanted to love her, her behavior drove him crazy. He couldn't wait to get away from home. And he always swore that he would never become like her. He hated her so much he wouldn't speak to her.

And for a few years after leaving home, he did well. He finished high school. He worked a variety of jobs. Eventually, he met a girl and fell in love. They married and had a couple of children. And he took good care of them. He worked two jobs and seemed happy

But I believe he had so much focus on not being like his parent that he became just like her. He began drinking. Using drugs. Slapping his wife. Not working. Wrecking his car. Getting evicted. All the behavior his mother taught him - the person he didn't want to become.

I believe that when we burn the image of who we don't want to be into our subconscious the universe sees that as our goal.  And it always gives us what we want.

I think it more productive to get a picture of who we want to be. A positive image that has nothing to do with our parents. In fact, we don't bring that person into the picture at all. Instead, we create an image of the person we would like to emulate and build our life around them.