Stories of Hope

Life-changing stories of hope, healing and wholeness

Sam

I was 10 years old when I first started using drugs. I was the youngest of six kids, so I used to ask my older brothers and sisters to get me high. I continued to use for the next 21 years. At 31 years old, my ex-wife threatened to take away my two little girls from me if I did not stop using. My oldest daughter had only seen me drink once when she was four years old and the youngest one had never seen me. So I stopped. I did not stop drinking because I wanted to, I stopped drinking because I did not want to lose my children. I knew a lot of people who chose alcohol over their family and never got to see their children again, and I am glad I made the right decision. From there on, I was involved in the 12-step program and other related commitments for many years. My ex-wife saved my life, she at least started the ball rolling.

Once I put down the drinks and the drugs, my business took off and I made a lot of money. But in the process I forgot that the principles and traditions of the 12-step program were the foundation of my success. I had let all that slip away. With that money, I bought apartments and houses, I even had my own jet. For about six years or so, I did the right thing and everything was great. Then things started to become unaffordable, I really did not want to change my lifestyle. This is when I started doing things that were against the 12-step program. I started borrowing money that I could not pay back against properties I owned. In 2006 everything crashed, and I was looking at 40 years in prison. I was not bankrupt at this point, so in my sick mind I really thought I was going to borrow myself out of it. That is how far away I was from the 12-step program! I kept trying to climb out of the hole but I could not. When my lawyer came to show me my restitution amount, I signed and agreed for a 10 year prison sentence, which was a lot less than I thought it would be.

When I lost all my money, my ex-wife and I split. I asked my lawyer to postpone my prison date because I had to take care of my two daughters. Once they were in college and high school I went to prison in 2010. When I got there, I was very fortunate because my sentence was reduced to five years. When I started doing my time, they took off another three years. So I ended up only doing nine months and eight days of the 10 year sentence. Once I got out, I started working toward my sobriety again.

I got involved with the Ignatian Spirituality Project while I was on parole. My spiritual mentor advised me to go on an ISP retreat and share my story. So I went on the retreat and loved it, I was happy to help others through my story. I also became great friends with the 12 guys that attended, we all shared numbers. Now I send out daily messages to them, I chat and advise them through any of their troubles.

Overall, ISP is fantastic. It honestly helps me stay sober because I get to help other people. ISP also keeps me closer to my spiritual mentor and God. In the beginning of my sobriety, up to seven years, I was so close to God. It was through the daily practice of the 12-steps and it’s traditions that I was able have this close relationship. Right now, I am trying to get it back because I do not have it. Being close to God was a powerful feeling, I was untouchable and felt no fear. I sometimes let myself get in the way of making process with God, but I continue to fight by helping others. It is easy to move or walk away, but I know he will always be by my side. My goal is to continue helping other people through ISP and whoever God puts in my path.

You can read more about our alumni participants who have experienced life-changing hope, healing, and wholeness, in our book, Stories of Hope.