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.

Sunday, May 17, 2020


"I've been through many terrible things in my life, and some of them really happened." Mark Twain

This saying, by Mark Twain, is one of my favorites. I like it because it sums up the human dilemma: our chattering brains constantly lead us down the path of anxiety and sometimes outright fear. What's going to happen tomorrow? Why do  things like this happen to me? Am I going to get fired? Am I going to get a raise? Does this corona virus mean the world is going to suddenly end?

Variations of thoughts like this flit about in our mind constantly. But the things we worry about that might happen are not something positive. It's generally something negative.

When I was much younger I used to let this constant chattering in my brain lead me all over the place. And for many years that led me to drugs and alcohol. When I did drugs and alcohol at least I was in some kind of control my feelings. I knew that I was going to get blasted and numb – in a state where whatever happened seemed very unimportant because I wasn't really feeling anything at all except numbness.

Today, to help preserve my own mental health and the mental health of those around me I teach that the only thing we can count on in life is that things will be different tomorrow. After all, we all wake up in a new day. While it might not be radically different from the day before, there are usually some minor differences. And then there are the major differences, like natural disasters and pandemics like this corona virus.

The point here is, that if we can accept the idea that things are always changing and will always be somewhat different – if not radically so – then we won't go off the tracks when something new shows up. Instead, we tell ourselves that, I accept whatever changes the universe brings to my life whether they be something terrible or perhaps a wonderful blessing. Because, even good things can get us upset.

It's imperative that change comes to all of our lives because that's how the human race developed to the point that it did. But none of us were promised that everything was always going to be a bed of roses. There are a lot of spoiled people right now who are throwing protests and wanting things to be like they were before the pandemic started. They want everything to go back to the so-called "normal."

But that is never going to happen because there have already been too many changes in daily life and in the world at large. Whatever happens – we must accept it for what it is – or else live a life of misery and unhappiness.

As it says in the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous, "acceptance is the key to all of my problems today."

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