The beach in Maui used to be my home. I would sit on the sand with a sunburnt body, drink my second or third fifth of rum for the day, and watch the ocean. I would try to get up the nerve to drift out far enough so that I wouldn’t be able to swim back. Day after day, I searched for meaning in my life and found none.
I spent the better part of my twenties traveling and homeless. After the year or so I spent in Hawaii, I returned to my hometown of Philadelphia where I remained homeless. I had struggled with drug and alcohol addiction since I was a teenager, but after two or three bottles of rum a day for about a year, I developed avascular necrosis in my hips. I started using heroin to deal with the pain.
One day in early 2014, I was on my way to meet my drug dealer when I got hit by a car. This led to a long stay in the hospital, two hip replacements, and a femur replacement. Not thinking I would make it on the street in a wheelchair, I quietly began to make plans to take my own life.
I reached out to my mom, who was living in Atlanta, and she told me I could come down here to stay with her. I put my plans to take my life on hold and I flew down to Georgia. She took care of me for the next year. I was in a wheelchair, and life seemed pretty bleak, but I started to develop a sense of hope. I started to attend church as well as 12-step meetings where I met some new friends. Eventually, I met the woman who would become my wife at church. She believed in me when I couldn’t believe in myself.
It wasn’t a perfect journey to sobriety; there were a lot of relapses along the way. I had to find the right combination of professional addiction treatment, church, therapy, medication, recovery meetings, and a support system of friends and family to finally achieve sobriety.
Now, I’ve been sober for a little over a year, I’ve been working a job I love for almost a year, and I live in a wonderful home with my loving wife. I have witnessed first hand how much life can change for the better. I look back to when I was sitting in that hospital bed in Philadelphia after my accident, wishing I could take my own life, and I thank God that I held on.
I had to come through the darkness to find light again. And now that I am in a much better place, I can spend a lot of my time helping others who are suffering from the weight of addiction and mental illness as I was. I can show others that things can always turn around. My journey into the light from darkness can now be a source of hope for others. And I wouldn’t trade that for anything.
Peter Lang is a freelance writer from Atlanta, Georgia. In recovery himself, he dedicates himself to others who are struggling with drug and alcohol addiction.