A lot of my drinking was based on my childhood. My real parents were divorced when I was an infant. My mom remarried and I was abused physically and mentally. When I turned six, my mom was just going to give me up for foster care and get rid of me, so my aunt and uncle came and picked me up. From then, on, they were my parents and I lived with them.
Life was pretty normal after that. I went to school, had brothers and sisters, and played sports. My favorite sport was hockey, which became a big part of my life. I had my first drink when I was eight but didn’t really start drinking until I was about 13. Everyone drank back then, so it wasn’t that big of a deal.
We moved to North Carolina a little while later, which is where I began to get serious about playing hockey. I ended up playing in the minor leagues where hockey gave me some incredible opportunities, but unfortunately, that was also when I started to drink heavily. I would eventually drink all those opportunities away. By this time, my parents had moved back to New York, but I stayed because I had met my wife.
My wife and I had our first daughter, and at the time I wasn’t drinking as much. Two years later, we wound up having triplets, and I couldn’t handle the stress of it all, so I started drinking a lot heavier. I wound up losing my mind and was sent to a psychiatric hospital. When I came back, my wife said she wanted a divorce, and I said “okay”.
I wound up living on my bartender’s couch for 3 ½ or 4 years. I drank everything away and went through everything I had. I gave up the sport I loved and even gave up my vehicle so I could buy more alcohol. I didn’t see my kids for over four years because I was too caught up in trying to drink myself to death.
One night I was in the apartment, drinking as usual, and I just yelled out, “If there’s a God, show me something! Anything!” What ended up happening was a commercial for Healing Transitions came on TV and started playing. It was nonstop, every 15-20 minutes, all day long. That’s when I decided to give this place a shot. So I went.
The hardest part of being here was actually looking at myself and seeing all the damage that I did to everyone around me, including myself. For the first eight months, I didn’t contact my kids. When I finally did call them, my wife and her parents didn’t buy it. They had seen this song and dance before. So they started with letting me call my kids and talk to them on the phone, to eventually seeing them for a couple of hours, to seeing them on the weekends, to letting me stay at the house on the weekends.
When I left HT, I knew that I still needed the structure in my life, so I moved into a recovery house for 2 ½ years. I maintained the relationships with my family during this time, and eventually, they asked me to come back home.
Today, I’m back with my wife and kids. I get to coach my sons in hockey, and my daughter figure skates. I’m a part of my kids’ life from morning-to-night, which is something I couldn’t say six years ago. Because of my recovery, hockey has come back into my life and I’ve again been given so many opportunities through that – employment, meeting professional players and the chance to be happy and proud of myself again. The church I was active in during my time at HT was St. Mark’s United Methodist Church. They do so much for the guys at HT and eventually, they actually gave me a job and I have the privilege of working there full-time.
Each year that I get a new sobriety chip, I give it to my wife. She’s the one who deserves the recognition. She’s the woman who raised four kids on her own while the deadbeat husband was getting drunk, living on a guy’s couch. All I’m doing is living the life that I was supposed to live. Healing Transitions is a place that never gives up on you. My goal was to drink myself to death, but this place saved my life.