Perspective: Light at the end of the tunnel

by John H. (Sullivan 2012)

It didn’t take long for the disease of addiction to take hold of me 15 or so years ago. Like most of us, my attitude was “I don’t have a problem; I can quit any time I want.” DENIAL.

I guess I should start by saying my life has been good. My parents raised me well. Mom and dad were social drinkers and had the power to shut it off. In my adult life I was and still am successful. I worked hard, got married in my mid-twenties to my wife who didn’t drink or smoke, we raised a son and lived happily ever after for 27 years — till my world came crashing down two years ago, when my secret was exposed.

Within a four-week period my wife and son left me and I was charged with DUI and possession of narcotics. This destroyed me. I had nowhere to turn — my closest family was 1500 miles away. I felt completely abandoned and I knew I needed help.

By sheer luck (okay, by a power greater than myself), I realized I was powerless and my life was out of control. I don’t believe in God but I do believe there is something watching over me. I called Renascent and was told to check into detox for a week and there would be room for me at Brooklin in seven days. Renascent gave me the tools, knowledge and support to relearn life clean.

I came home to an empty house and a lawyer’s letter. Day One — let the stress begin! One of the first things they teach you at Renascent is don’t become hungry, angry, lonely or tired (HALT). I’m not home 15 minutes and I hit three out of four triggers! Oh, did I forget to mention there were also 10 texts from my dealer!!!

For the next couple of days I lived life clean one second at a time. Thirty days and a thousand nights. I can’t stress it enough — 90 meetings in 90 days helped lots.

I found it was more important for me to stay clean than it was to do the 12 Steps for the first year. Guess I wasn’t ready to face my demons head on quite yet, or at least the hard steps for me: Steps 4, 5, 6, 7 and 10. I left Renascent full of guilt and shame. I didn’t want anyone to know I was a closet functioning addict (or at least I thought I was, till the end). As I reflect back, attempting to put my life on paper though the 12 Steps would probably have removed my shame and guilt sooner, but such is life.

Accepting having God remove my defects of character was a long and difficult process for me. It was easy to admit my defects — we all know what they are — but maybe I had to punish myself longer than most. For me, I let down and lost my life partner and it was all my fault.

But there was light at the end of the tunnel. Asking my higher power to remove my character defects and accepting his help removed a thousand pounds off my shoulders. My life changed even more for the better. I am now okay telling people I am an addict. I accepted that my life partner is never coming back and this helped me move forward. I now have the beginning of a good relationship with my son and he understands that his dad is not perfect but he’s trying his best.

Life has become more clear and serene. There is now peace and I see beauty in things. Don’t get me wrong, I’m human and make mistakes like all of us. Every day I face challenges that life throws at me and my life is far from perfect — but now I face them with a clear mind and a calm demeanour. No longer do I tell myself if this happens or that happens in my life I’ll return to using. I’ve already faced some of those demons and it didn’t even cross my mind to go back and experiment. I know in my heart that if I return to the dark side I will die.

Life for me right now could not be better. I have never been happier. There is no more hate or anger in my life. I’ve stopped blaming everybody else and have stepped up to the plate. I hated cops for what they did to me and now I’m dating one who accepts my flaws. I’m two years clean as of May 14th and no longer looking back. I will continue my fight against this disease one day at a time.

About the Authors

Renascent Alumni
Members of Renascent's alumni community carry the message by sharing their experiences and perspectives on addiction and recovery. To contribute your alumni perspective, please email

One response to “Perspective: Light at the end of the tunnel

  1. The reward for each single day of success, I find, provides just the right amount of necessary motivation and confidence for me to go on for the next day.
    I imagine that the process of going for a day of sobriety – that is, one single day at a time – is kind of like one single cycle in the turning of a gasoline combustion engine: A piston moves up and down in the simple functioning of drawing in, compressing, and igniting the air-fuel mixture, and then the spent byproducts are expelled in preparation for that same cycle to be repeated once more. But the many repetitions of that cycle provide all which is necessary to move you along in your journey toward your destination.
    Similarly, each single day of sobriety is part of the same simple cycle which successful carries you along the journey on which you were meant to travel.

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