Quiet, shy and sensitive, my first great escape was into the world of books. I turned twelve in a psychiatric hospital, had a bleeding ulcer at thirteen.
Born to a father who was a naval officer and a mother who was a registered nurse, we moved when I was six months old and kept moving. I attended twenty-seven different schools between first grade and graduating high school and with six siblings, I felt like an alien abandoned on an earthly doorstep.
I started drinking when I left home and joined the Navy. There were three rehab centers, nine months with the Salvation Army, half a dozen suicide attempts, two DUI's, homelessness – and countless arrests. I tried to get sober but inevitably found that drinking was the only solution I could find that helped me deal with the misery and pain of life that, drunk or sober, was my daily existence.
After my last drunk, coming to alone in a one-room apartment, surviving an out of body near-death experience where “God hated me too much to let me die” – I only thought that I had reached my bottom.
As I got sober and continued my spiritual journey, I began to learn that all of us are more alike than we are different. All of us have the same problems and the same solutions. We may differ on semantics and definitions, but we all suffer from pride and ego, and our solution is always going to be love and humility.
There are still times when I get up in the middle of the night and wander through the house, stopping to watch my wife and daughters as they sleep, looking at the pictures on the wall—and wonder to myself, amazed, at the miracles that have manifested in my life. No matter what we choose to believe or not believe, we are all children of a loving creator and none of us are alone. Life is not meant to be endured, but to be enjoyed and shared, through hard times as well as joyful ones.