The day was October 31, 1991. It was a Thursday and it may have even been a pay Thursday. I don’t remember how it was at work. Usually during this time of year we are very busy. All I do remember is that I could not wait to get off.

The weather on that day was about 60 degrees. I did not realize until today that this was also the time of the 1991 Perfect Storm. This was the same storm that inspired the movie.

My plan, which became a daily ritual for me, was to get a drink and hang out a few hours with some friends. By this time in my life it was necessary for me at the end of the work day to stop the corner liquor store and pick up my favorite bottle of whatever I was drinking at the time. I did this so often that a coworker made mention of what I was doing. I could not let anyone know what I was doing. Besides it’s no one’s business and how dare they keep track of me. I solved what I thought was a problem by going to other liquor stores in the area.

There was no way I would stop this routine of the daily drink. In fact, as I look back, I could not have stopped if I wanted to.

I met my friends and our night of madness began. I bought the first two bottles. One was for my friends to share.  The second bottle I kept for me.  By this time in my drinking career, I needed one just for me. The magic in that bottle did what it had always done before. It took the edge off and allowed me get to a state of being normal.

My goal was to hang out for a few hours and then go home. That was always the goal. The truth was my good intentions were never realized. There was no way I could predict what was going to happen after I began to drink.

Every hour or so I would call and tell my wife that I was on my way home. I could tell in her voice that she really didn’t believe me but it didn’t matter. I made the calls anyway.

As was the case in previous meetings with these friends, the use of drugs became part of the party.

When I looked at my watch it was 2 AM. It was now November 1 and I could not imagine where all the time had gone. The other thing that was so overwhelming was the feelings of guilt and remorse that were upon me. I believe they came from my practicing of insanity. What this means is that I expected something different each time I drank. What did happen each time was what happened every time. I got drunk and out of control. This reality was staring me in the face.

This was not the first time I had experienced these feelings. This had been going on for the past few months. I never imagined that the magic in those bottles stopped working. It wasn’t until sometime later that I understood that there was no magic in those bottles at all and my body was in the beginning stages of shutting down.

I dreamed about a life without drinking or doing drugs but my diseased mind could not see that as a reality.

It was now 6AM. There was no way I could go to work. I called the job and the words that came out of my mouth shocked me. I told the person on the other side that I had a problem and I needed help. That was the first time I had ever come to the realization that I was out of control and that I could not get better by myself.

Those words were the release valve for all those negative feelings. I did not know it then but they began this long process of healing.

I somehow made it home that morning and later that day went to see a person at the employee assistance program and they set me up to go to a rehab. My stay at that facility was to begin on November 5. The remarkable thing about those first experiences was that I had not had a drink or a drug since that Friday morning. That was four days. I had not been in that position, drug or alcohol free, in over twenty years.

I spent the next 30 days at that facility. I learned a lot during that time and could not wait to get home to put this learning to practice.

Although I had 34 days of sobriety under my belt, that time did not erase the damage I had caused to my family. In the beginning I thought that magically all would be well and my relationships with the two most important people in my life, my wife and my son, would become normal.

She and I divorced about 10 years ago. My son now has two younger brothers and (by the grace of God) he will be the only one who will have firsthand knowledge of what went on during that dark time of my life.

The one thing that has become clear in 21 years is that healing is a process. Just as with parenting there is no manual to use. Over this time, I have worked hard to repair the damage that was caused by me.

There are times when those thoughts of that past haunt me. Like the time when I drove down a one way street or the time when I didn’t remember driving on the freeway or when I couldn’t remember where I parked the car.

I lost some very valuable things during that time of darkness but the things I gained during this time in the light are immeasurable.





  • Wendell,

    I have an uncle named Wendell. He is no longer with us but I am proud of his struggle to stop the insanity. However, it was too late for him and he couldn’t make it back to sobriety. Man, Wendell, you told my story. On October 31, 2004 is when I had my last episode. It was over a decade after the real perfect storm. I guess it revisited me. That next day, I figured I didn’t want anymore flaming arrows shot at me and began my journey through recovery from the madness. On November 1, 2014 it will be 10 years for me being able to connect the dots for productive living one day at a time, only by the grace and mercy of God. I commend you with utmost respect for being there for you kids before the streets get hold to them. Cause once they get hold to the wrong information, it can be hard to change a kid’s constitution. Thank you for putting it out there in a language we all can understand. Peace and spread a little love around. ~Andre

  • What courage it most have taken to make that call. The important thing is that you did make it and that’s when your life began. Thank you for sharing your story, I know that it will be such an encouragement to a lot of people. I’m rooting for you. Keep moving forward. Many will be praying for you!!!

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