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, October 17, 2020

Accepting Pain

A friend was talking to me about problems she's having with her husband, and that they were currently separated. I told her that since I'd been divorced four times that she'd probably come to the right person.

After all, I got over all four of those divorces after a time. Now admittedly, in looking back, I was really the one who created most of the problems in the marriages.   During the first two marriages I was using drugs and alcohol.  So I put them in a different category that the last two. The reality is that when two practicing addicts are married – while they may love one another – it seems like the drugs and alcohol always get in the way. 

In any case, I gave her the best advice I could.  And that until she was able to accept the fact that her marriage was in trouble she would find herself going up and down emotionally. In my own case I was quickly able to recognize my own part in the situation and was able to get over my anger and pain pretty quickly.

And one thing I never did was put the blame on them when I was talking to other people. After all, at one time I thought each of my wives was the most beautiful person in the world and I would've done anything for them. Just because we got divorced didn't make them into some kind of a monster or terrible person. And as a result today we are able to communicate on good terms without fighting or putting each other down.

My suggestion to her was to first of all stay busy, which would help her get over her pain. I told her she should talk to her sponsor and other friends. To focus on her job and her children. And to think about all of the good fortune that she has in her life today.

I understand that pain sometimes has a life of its own and it keeps cropping up at the strangest times. But when it does crop up we should look it right in the eye and accept it as being a natural reaction to the emotions we are going through. The more often we are able to do this, the sooner the pain will subside.

The one thing we do not want to do is go back to drugs or alcohol because all that does is give us two problems to have pain about. Even though it sounds boring and we hear a lot of it in the 12 step programs, acceptance really is the key to most of our problems today.

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