Lost at sea

Wilson rises from addiction, finding sobriety and a return to The Salvation Army.

By Wilson –

Yeah, there’s something about being out on the ocean. The intensity of Mother Nature.

The exhilaration of catching all that fish started at an early age—8 years old—then it just became a part of me.

One of my grandparents adopted me. They were my parents and I just followed my grandfather everywhere. I remember going to [The Salvation Army] church and falling asleep on his chest when I was 4 years old.

So we built that father-son relationship. He was my mentor and my teacher and pretty much my world.

I started drinking at the age of 12. I was drinking pretty regularly with my brothers. I thought that’s what all kids do.

I was at this friend’s trailer and we were drinking. The state troopers found me and said that I needed to call home. “Bad news: your grandfather passed away.”

I didn’t know how to respond and just said, “OK, OK.” There was just a lot of pain, and I remember sitting in the middle of the floor crying.

It really hurt and I think about it right now and a lot of memories come back.

I drank a lot. My alcoholism really picked up. The [boat] captain said, “Wilson, we just can’t have you when you’re drinking,” and he fired me.

We got rid of the family boat. I was homeless. I had no direction in life.

I kept bugging employers about mining and they said, “we have a job,” and I said yes.

I’ve lost some good friends underground. Myself, I’ve been very close to death.

That kind of lifestyle–a lot of drinking, a lot of drugs and sleeping with other wives–was just a really dysfunctional lifestyle.

I was an alcoholic for 30 years. I struggled so hard with my addiction, living that kind of lifestyle.

I was always drinking almost half a gallon every two days. I was smoking crack and I got introduced to heroin.

One night at about three in the morning I panicked. I didn’t know where I was. I needed something to drink.


I remember drinking a whole bottle of wine in two drinks. That calmed my nerves.

At about 6:30 my brother was taking me to my job. I was still intoxicated and I started to feel I was trembling.

That’s where I hit my rock bottom emotionally and I looked at him and said, “can you just take me to the ER?”

At that moment I decided, “I’m gonna commit myself to sobriety,” and I took it very seriously.

I felt so relieved, like I was released from bondage.

I thought about all the ugly feelings and I never ever want to feel that way again.

I remember the peacefulness when I reflected back on waking up Sundays and going to church.

I was thinking about how I grew up in The Salvation Army so I went to it and I really felt the Holy Spirit in me.

You know, I was just overwhelmed. I started to cry and I was just so happy. I said, “I really love you God.”

After that I was different.

Every day of my life I wake up so happy I’m not drunk, I’m not shaking, I’m not in despair. I just love the new life.

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