“When we have reached the depths of despair, only then can we look up and see the light of hope.”
― Stephen Richards
My name is Jason, and I am an alcoholic. I was born in western North Carolina in the city of Gastonia, being raised by my mother and my maternal grandparents. My grandparents were my world, especially my grandmother. I can remember, as a toddler, wanting to spend every waking moment with my grandparents. I am the oldest of five siblings and the only to suffer from addiction. They all drank and dabbled in other things, but they were able to put it down. As a child, I always wanted to “fit in” with the crowd. I would have done anything to be accepted by my peers. I would later see just how dangerous and destructive that desire would affect every aspect of my life.
In school, I began showing signs of learning disabilities, which made it difficult to keep up with the progress of my peers. This added to the teasing and bullying that I already experienced. Episodes of depression were common. I had few friends in school and my home life was Hellish. My mother’s way of punishment involved both physical and psychological abuse, increasing my anxiety and depression. I love my mom dearly, but her parenting style led to feelings of inadequacies. For example, I felt stupid for my inability to grasp my math homework. I was brought up believing that my mom’s second husband was my biological father. At age thirteen, my mother addressed the secret, revealing to me the identity of my biological father.
At the age of sixteen, I had my first beer. It was an award from my stepfather. He returned home from work to find that I had completed the chore-list he had left for me to complete. As I drank the beer with my stepfather and his work buddies, I had a sense of belonging, being a part of, feeling whole. After graduating from high school, my mother gave me the number to contact my real dad. A few short weeks later, I had the opportunity meet my father for the first time.
When I contacted my father, I had been living in a boy’s home for two years because of a violent confrontation with my mom and stepdad. So, my real dad told me to pack my stuff because “no son of his was staying in a boy’s home, especially when he had a family that wanted him”. I packed my belongings and moved to South Carolina to live with a family that I had never met before. It was at this point that my alcoholism and addiction became apparent. Most people would get up first thing in the morning and have a cup of coffee with their breakfast, I would have a beer. It became obvious that my dad and I could not live together because both of us drank way too much. Once again, I moved in with my maternal grandparents.
Coming from a long line of military veterans, I decided to follow in my grandfather’s footsteps, enlisting in the military. In June of 1995, I joined the Navy, fully convinced that this was going to change my life. My military career did not last as long as I desired. In October of 1999, I received word that my eldest baby brother was dead, resulting from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Autopsy reports revealed that he was intoxicated when he stuck a loaded 38 caliber handgun to his head. Immediately afterwards, I lost both of my maternal grandparents. My life continued to spiral. I lost focus, suffered an injury, and was medically discharged from the Navy in October of 2000.
My life then became devoted to alcohol and drugs. The summer of 2004, I experienced my first overdose. After binging on alcohol, I consumed several bottles of pills…wanting to escape the pain. I woke up from a coma three days later, having flat-lined twice. You would think that a situation like the one I just described would prevent someone from repeating their actions, but I was still not done. After being discharged from the hospital, I immediately stopped at the nearest convenience store for alcohol. The streets became my home, while jails and psych wards became the norm. Eventually, I found myself at The Healing Place of Wake County in 2007. I did well for a little over a year but got away from my priorities and went back out and started using and drinking again.
I found myself living in Columbia, South Carolina. I was drinking heavily, while using Meth and Cocaine. This deadly combination landed me back in the hospital, with what the doctors were calling a heart attack. With nowhere to go and no bridges left unburnt, I had no desire to continue living. I had no desire to see another day.
Remarkably, I found the courage to pick up the phone and contact some people back in Raleigh. Upon returning to Raleigh on March 21, 2016, I dove headfirst into my recovery. I got a home-group, found a great sponsor, started sponsoring other guys, and became heavily involved in service work. In an attempt to avoid past mistakes, I decided to commit to transitional housing. This desire led me to Emmaus House of Raleigh. The opportunity to live with other men facing similar struggles has been a true asset for my recovery path. The added accountability has lent itself to keeping me focused on the most important thing, staying clean and sober. I could not be more grateful. Emmaus House has allowed me to see my potential, connect with people that truly care, and give me the tools needed to become a successful and productive member of society.
My life now is unrecognizable. I am currently enrolled at Wake Tech, pursuing a career in Substance Abuse Treatment. This will allow me to give back to the community that saved my life. I was blessed with the opportunity to get my driver’s license back, after not having one for twenty-five years. I have my own car, and I have held down the same job for over two years. I recently moved into my own apartment, experiencing a freedom that I once thought unattainable. Yes, my life now is full of blessings and hope. I could never have done this alone, Thank You All.