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Peter’s Transformation

March Share 2021

When Peter shares in the rooms, or zoom meetings for that matter, people often pause. He exudes a sort of calm and poise about him, that you really want to get closer and listen. It’s seldom that we meet people that really transform their pain and suffering into a kind of appreciation and respect for the process in the making. He is now a family man and a well respected individual in the recovery community. We are proud to feature him on the Flying Sober string of success stories.


My name is Peter and I am an alcoholic. I grew up in Chicago and the Chicagoland area. I have a mother and father who are still married, and a sister that is 18 months older than me. My father did heating and air-conditioning for a living and my mother always held some kind of office job. I grew up in a working-class neighborhood. Most of the men worked in some kind of trade, whether it be plumbing, carpentry, electrical work, and so on. Most of the women were stay-at-home moms or worked in factories and low to medium level jobs. As far back as I could remember the adults around me were always drinking and partying, either because it was the end of day or the weekend. 

As a young child, I played sports competitively and did well in school. I always told myself that I would never drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, or anything unhealthy for my body. I wanted to become a professional athlete. I don’t believe that my parents, neighborhood, friends, or really anyone or anything, made me an alcoholic. For many years in my active alcoholism I could have told you story after story about who, why, or what was the reason I drank. I have since learned that all to be false. I drank because I wanted to drink and enjoyed the affects or results it produced. Period!

What was it like

My alcoholism was of the progressive nature. The first real” buzz “or altered state I can remember was from a cigarette. I would steal cigarettes at home and give them to the older kids in the neighborhood. Finally, one day I decided to try it for myself and loved everything about it. I remember getting slightly giddy and amused by it and I couldn’t wait to smoke another one. I was around fifth grade when that happened. I can’t tell you the first time I drank, or even what I drank and who I drank it with. I do know from the very beginning I drank for the effect of it and never because I enjoyed the taste of alcohol. Shortly after experimenting with cigarettes, I became a daily smoker, and eventually a daily marijuana smoker. 

My drinking was more of a weekend thing. I began getting involved in gang activities around seventh grade. Drinking alcohol gave me a kind of alter ego like I was a tough guy, and it helped me portray that image to the world. But it masked how I really felt on the inside, a scared little boy.

By the age of 16, I was heavily involved with criminal activities, and at this point a daily drinker. The drinking allowed me to put aside the harm I was causing others and to myself, but deep down inside I still felt I was a good guy. I ended up going to a Boot Camp for troubled teenagers and I was released by the age of 17. Upon graduation, the state of Illinois offered me a Stipend (a scholarship to any college in Illinois), among other benefits to help me get a fresh start. Unfortunately, I chose to stir in the other direction. I had two of my friends come pick me up, and long and behold they brought a few bottles of alcohol, drugs and women with them. I had every opportunity to make something of myself, but my attitude was always tomorrow. And that lasted a decade, from the age of 17 to 27 everything was somewhat of a blur. 

Without getting into a lot of details, there were many arrests, 2 DUI’s, jobs and relationships lost over and over again. A perpetual vicious cycle. Friends and family members were reaching out to me, afraid for my life. People around me where dying from left to right, and all the while I felt everything was under control. I was so delusional and detached from reality. It was always like “it’s you guys, not me.” I could not connect the dots that I was no different than any other addict and that this path was a dead end. I got to the point where I would only drink to pass out, and immediately start upon awaking just to do it all over again. I had no will or desire to do anything else but to stay unconscious, and hope this would all be over some day. And, that was the grim reality of my life.

What Happened?

When my mother picked me up to take me to court for my second DUI, she asked why I did’t try Alcoholics Anonymous. Back then, I did’t know anything about Alcoholics Anonymous. I was actually court ordered to go a few times, but didn’t really want to be there or take it seriously. I remember laughing at her and saying, if it was that F’m easy I would’ve walked into a church long time ago and ask a Priest to release me. I needed a lot more help than Alcoholics Anonymous I thought. Later that night she called me and offered to take me to a rehab that she found. I agreed to go on a few conditions; if she bought me a case of beer, given me $100, and picked me up in the morning. But then I thought, what the heck do I got to loose? No one has ever offered me help before. I was so beaten physically and mentally. So, off I went and successfully completed it.

When it was time to discharge I was so terrified to go back to the hood, that I begged the place to let me stay. The rehab worked with halfway houses in other states and they presented me with the opportunity to go to Florida. This was in 2010, and I agreed to go for six months. In my crazy mind I thought I would eventually go back to my old life and “drink like a gentleman,“ but just needed some time away. The first thing I did when I landed in Florida was go to a meeting and get a sponsor. My first sponsor was drinking the entire time he was sponsoring me. However, he lived in a house with a bunch of other men who were sober and actually doing the right thing. So, I asked one of guys to be my sponsor and that’s when my life changed for good.

I began working the steps and doing everything he suggested. I did have a short relapse about 90 days in, and I moved out of my halfway house. I also started dating this woman. My sponsor advised me against doing both. Contrary to his advise, I relapsed hard and heavy, worse than prior to Florida. I was fortunate enough to go back to detox for 10 days and then I went back to work with my sponsor almost immediately. But this time I listened to everything he said and I went through the 12 step process in it’s entirely. The only difference this time around, I was willing to be honest and thorough with my sponsor. And, so I received the absolute benefit of the program as he promised I would. When we completed the steps he said  “the most selfish thing you can do in your life now, is not to give this away to someone, as freely as I did with you.” That was powerful for me to hear and I am a firm believer of this today.

What it's like today?

All I can say is, GOD has surpassed my expectations and lead me to believe that we are capable of doing anything if we put our hearts and minds to it. I honestly had no conception of God nor did I want one prior to AA. My God, along with this program, and everyone and everything it has to offer, has exceeded anything I could ever dreamed of. I still feel I’m young in this program and there is so much more to learn and come. It is now 2021 and I’m still living in Florida. My plan was to return back to my life after six months in 2010. 

However, God has had other plans for me. I came to sobriety with a GED from the juvenile boot camp. I since then have been able to go back to school and obtain a Bachelor’s degree. I have my driver’s license back after being told I would never drive again. I’ve gotten married and have two amazing sons. I always wanted that kind of life and felt deeply I was a good person, and this was just a phase. There were times I almost died. There were times I should have died. Alcoholism took me to the darkest corners in my life but I found my version of God through AA. 

Today, I’m grateful for everything that happened, because it lead to benefit others. I have found peace and serenity within my own mind and it is a beautiful thing. I try to stay as active as I can in the program and I try to never forget the pain I was in before 09/10/2011. I may sometimes get caught up in life, but I’m always grateful that I even have a life. By reminding myself of the struggles I went through, I remain humble. I know now that my real purpose is to stay sober and help another alcoholic. It’s that simple for me! 

If I compare my life before AA ,there are no comparisons. This is by far a better way of life and the only thing I know for certain; I went to AA, I did what I was told, and somehow I found a God of my understanding. There are bumps and bruises along the way. As they say, life on life terms. However, if I remember to trust God and stick to the basics; like helping others, go to meetings, and so on, everything always works out. For that knowledge alone, I am forever grateful. Thank you all and I love you.

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3 years ago

What a great story. Your journey gave me chills and then I had a big Smile especially when I read where your at today, and those beautiful pictures of your wife and kids. Thank you for sharing