Recovery Connections

John Schwary is CEO of Transitional Living Communities, an 900-bed recovery program he founded in Mesa, Arizona January 9, 1992, when he had a year sober. He's in his 30th 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.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Changing our Story

We all have a story. For us addicts, it's a familiar one.

Many of us grew up in a so-called "dysfunctional" home. We were exposed to alcohol or drugs at an early age. Maybe it was by a parent. Perhaps it was school friends.

A large percentage of us say that the first time we drank or used drugs we immediately felt like we belonged. We were the life of the party. All of a sudden we were popular and good-looking. And then when we came down, it all crashed around us. And we were back to being the same old losers that we always were.

But we didn't give up. If we have nothing else, we addicts have perseverance. For years and years, most of us continued to seek the euphoria and the freedom of our first encounter with drugs or alcohol. And of course, all of us failed miserably and ended up divorced, broke, or maybe even in jail. We succeeded in losing nearly everything – even our self-respect.

But that story is history, it's old news, not a template that we have to live by. Just as an author edits his words we can change our life story to one of success. To one of peace and happiness. And it's not as difficult as it might seem.

All we need is to be done with our old life. Tell ourselves we're tired of losing everything. Of losing relationships with our families. Abusing ourselves and treating ourselves poorly.

Instead, we must start telling ourselves that our lives are worthwhile. That today we don't have to be who we used to be.

And we don't do this in one giant leap. We start changing our lives in tiny increments, and in baby steps. That's how change occurs, sometimes painfully slow. We start educating ourselves about our disease by going to meetings or counseling. We begin to make amends to those we have harmed. We start taking care of our physical self by exercising and eating right. Maybe we attempt to quit smoking. And we give ourselves times to allow these changes to take effect.

If we do this, within a year we won't know who we are because our lives will be so much better. And the nice thing about this process of change is if you are unhappy with your success it's pretty easy to go back and find your misery.

Click here to email John