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.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019


Today I was at my dermatologist's office to have a growth removed from my forehead.

As he was describing the procedure, he explained that he was going to be careful when he closed the wound so he wouldn't leave a scar. I replied that while I appreciated his doing a good job I told him that I didn't think it would make much difference because not many people – if any – pay much attention to what my 80-year-old forehead looks like. I believe that people don't care much what any of us look like – they're usually quite interested in what they look like.  And understandably so,

In any event,  he completed the process much sooner than they'd planned and now I'm at home writing about my experience at the doctor's office.

As I was driving home I reflected upon the years I was raising my teenage daughter. If she had even a small pimple or blackhead she would want to stay home from school. While I never let her I did try to explain that people weren't too concerned about how she appeared because they spent a lot more time thinking about their own appearance. I'm not quite sure she was mature enough to understand exactly what I was saying because I'm sure, that to her, that small flaw was the size of Mount Vesuvius. And that she would be ostracized for the rest of the school year if anyone noticed it.

I think vanity has  made changes in our culture. The other day I went into the restroom at a local restaurant to wash my hands and noticed there were no mirrors. And that isn't the first time I experienced that. But on this last occasion I happened to run into the manager – a fellow I've known for some time – and asked him about the mirrors. He explained that he'd been forced to remove them, because many of his employees – from waiters to busboys – seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time in front of them. He learned that whenever he was missing an employee, he could usually find them in front of the mirrors, admiring themselves.

As we grow older we realize that it's not who we are on the outside – it's what we are on the inside that determines what the world thinks of us. The superficial distortion looking back at us from the mirror rarely seems to improve.

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