Through My Brother’s Death I Found Life

Through My Brother's Death I Found Life - #VoicesProject

I am a 51 year old recovering addict/alcoholic and my name is Tom. The fact that I am even alive to write this piece is a miracle in and of itself. It is the miracle of my higher power and my personal program of recovery.

I was brutally raped and beaten when I was nine years old and again when I was fifteen. I include this fact, not because it “made” me an alcoholic, of this point I want to be very clear, but because the trauma changed me forever. To keep it straight with the readers, there are many people who have been through what I have, and much worse, and are not addicts. I am an addict because I am, period.

The traumas in my life changed my perception of how I lived in the world. I was terrified, anxious, and depressed and had no idea why. When I had my first beer at eleven my “love affair” with alcohol was instantaneous. I was hooked. I had found the “answer” and it came in a can.

By the time I was sixteen I was drinking everyday and that would continue until I was thirty-two. I had my degree from college and now found myself entering seminary to become a Catholic priest. I should point out that I knew there was a problem, but I had no information on the disease of alcoholism. I knew nothing about chronic, progressive and if left untreated, always fatal.

I had now become a binge drinker and that would continue until I was 49. I made it through six years of graduate school, got ordained, crazy. I left the priesthood within three years and got married. Another epic fail in my life as my disease had progressed to gallons and gallons of straight vodka. I lost my marriage, jobs, family and friends. I had three tours in rehab, along with a myriad of psyche ward and ER visits. The last three put me on life support, and my family was told I would not live through the night. My blood alcohol level was .56.

I had been in and out of the “rooms” for a few years, when I finally surrendered completely. I was one month sober when I told the doctors to turn off all the machines and watch my little brother die from this disease. I, of all people, was his legal guardian. It was the worst fourteen hours of my life, but I did not drink. His death gave me new life, I had hope for the first time that I could do this, and I am doing it.

I have started my own company to educate and help as many people as I am supposed to on this disease.  I am content.  I am living life as a sober adult for the first time ever.

There is much more to my story, but the main point is….if you are breathing, there is Hope. Recovery is possible.  Being joyful and useful is possible. Healing in every aspect of your life is possible. Anything is possible when the “chains” are broken.

Thank you for your kind attention. Please, if you are struggling, never give up. There are millions of us all around you that can hold you and love you, until you can do it for yourself. Then we/you get to give that gift away, so at one and the same time, we get to keep it. Life is beautiful. It took what it took. I am free.