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.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Angry in Recovery

Most of the time I'm very peaceful and easy-going.

The first thing I do in the morning is 45 minutes of mindful meditation. In fact, I'm so into meditation that I took an 11-month course to receive my certificate as a mindfulness meditation instructor. I also practice yoga for 20 to 30 minutes first thing in the morning. Then spend another 45 minutes in my home gym. In other words, I spend a lot of time on self-care aimed at keeping myself peaceful and serene. And usually, it works.

Because anger got me into a lot of trouble when I was much younger, I like living the way I do today. In my early years, anger caused me to use drugs and alcohol to mask my feelings of frustration and rage. I used to fight a lot and hurt myself and others. So being peaceful is the way I try to roll.

But the other day I let my anger get out of hand.

And it came about because I've been dealing with a person who has caused me a lot of emotional and financial issues over the last four months. Over the years I've spent a lot of money and done many things to enhance this person's life. I've been generous to a fault. I've never taken advantage of her. To the contrary, I recently spent a lot of effort helping her avoid a jail sentence for domestic violence. A sentence, that in reality, she truly deserved.

So my anger erupted when I asked her to sign a simple document that I needed for a business transaction and she refused. Her refusal won't stop the transaction from occurring. But it will slow it down because now lawyers have to get involved, which will cost time - and both of us money.

But the anger didn't come from my failure to complete the business transaction in a timely manner. As I said earlier, it will get done even though I may have to go to the expense of taking court action.

What really angered me was the sense of betrayal I got from someone who should've totally trusted me because I've never given her a reason to do otherwise.

But when I said above that I let my anger get out of hand what I really meant was that I allowed it to suffuse every part of me for an hour or so. Instead of doing what I know how to do, which is breath and let the anger subside, I instead let it get the best of me. So how did I get rid of it?

Well, the first thing I did when I got home was to go into my gym and begin wailing on a punching bag that I've had for several months. It's one of those rubber kind that looks like half a man. And I beat on it for several minutes with all of my energy until my anger began to dissipate. But I wasn't quite done yet. Next, I went into my swimming pool and swam furiously back and forth, back and forth, until I ran out of energy. Then when I regained my energy I realized that I still wasn't done. So I went back into my gym and put on some 14-ounce boxing gloves and beat on the bag some more until I could've sworn I heard it asking for mercy. After working out hard for the next day or so my anger has pretty much dissipated.

Plus, I've had a chance to think about it. And I came to the realization that when a person is terribly damaged it's difficult for them to trust anyone – no matter how kindly that person treats them.