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.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Be Here

The other day I dealt with a client who had a severe case of anxiety. He had trouble sleeping. He had trouble relaxing. He spent a great deal of time looking into the future, or dwelling in the past.

And like many of the addicts in our program he had the perfect solution for his anxiety: he would bury it with drugs or alcohol until he passed out. The only problem is that he had to wake up the next day and start all over again. This regimen didn't work out very well for him because eventually he lost his job, his marriage, his automobile, and the home that he lived in for seven years.

As I got better acquainted with him I learned that he had been treated poorly as a child. But instead of blaming those who mistreated him, he blamed himself for the bad things that happened to him. And of course that affected his self-worth. When in school he got poor grades. He ended up hanging with other students who had similar experience to his. He had found a clique of drug addicts to whom he could relate and who accepted him just as he was. And because of his association with them he eventually ended up in juvenile hall and then jail. And for the next 20 years he spent a lot of time associating with people like him and ultimately returning to jail or prison.

During my sessions with him I was able to help him understand that he could do nothing about the past. Nor could he really plan a future. But something that he would be able to do that would bring him some happiness and peace was to learn how to live in the moment. It took a while for me to help him understand that the only thing he had control over was this moment. And when he spent his time in the past or the future he was wasting a lot of the brief time that we all have here on earth.

After a while his anxiety went away because he began to grasp the concepts that I was teaching him about living in the moment. Someone taught me that concept a long time ago. And when I'm able to share it with others who begin to use it in their lives I feel like I'm helping someone learn how precious each moment of our life is.

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