RECOVERY STORY OF THE MONTH
Shawn S. (aka Sonny)
Sobriety Date: January 31, 2022
My name is Shawn, and I am an alcoholic. My sobriety date is January 31, 2022. My friends call me Sonny. I was born and raised in Paterson, New Jersey, and I’m 42 years old. I come from a very strong Irish family. I was taught morals and values. My parents tried their best to teach me right and to keep me away from the streets, and it worked for a while. I was a good kid who listened to adults and did what I was told to do.
When I was about 8 or 9 years old, I was abused by a family member who I loved and trusted. After that I became really withdrawn and developed trust issues. Shortly after that I was in my parents’ basement and remembered my older brother partying with his friends down there with the liquor in my parents’ liquor cabinet and having fun. I was curious and grabbed a bottle of Jameson Irish whiskey. I drank some and right away from the first drink all those feelings I had of feeling different because of what happened to me went away. From that point on that is all I wanted to do. When I wasn’t drinking it was all I thought about. I became a problem to my parents right away. I started to get involved in the things that went on in my neighborhood. I got involved with street gangs. There was nothing my parents could do to stop me. I began to do what I wanted to do with no regard for my family.
When I was 13, I was trying to get money from my parents to get more alcohol and they wouldn’t give it to me. The cops were called because of how I was acting and when they showed up, they approached me at the top of the staircase. I kicked a police officer in the chest, and he fell down the steps. I was taken to juvey hall. That was my first major consequence because of drinking. When I was in there, I told myself I was going to change and meant it. Once that door unlocked, and I was back in the neighborhood, that was not the case.
I came upstairs disrespecting the cops because I was a punk. They weren’t there for me this time.
I began stealing cars and selling drugs. I became addicted to the street life. When I was 15, I was at home in my parents’ basement cutting school. I was drinking by myself. Some detectives came to the house. My brother’s fiancé automatically thought they were there for me, so she yelled down for me. I came upstairs disrespecting the cops because I was a punk. They weren’t there for me this time. They were there to let us know that my older brother had been found dead of a drug overdose. The selfish alcoholic I am, I ran. I left home to keep drinking so I didn’t have to feel. Not considering my parents just lost their first son or that my younger brother had just lost his brother. It was all about me and how I didn’t want to feel that pain.
A few weeks after my brother Bobby passed, I was out on the corner with my friends. My dad pulled up and told me to get in the car. I got in and we talked. He gave me a choice to come home and live by his rules or get out of his house. I got out of his house because in my mind then I could do what I wanted. I disappeared into N.Y.C. I was gone for about a year. I was selling heroin and stealing cars to survive. I was 15 years old and not for one minute did I consider what I was doing to my family after they had just buried their oldest son. I loved the life that I was living and did not care about what my family was going through. It was all about me.
I was in some trouble, so I ran back home. For the first time in my life, I seen my dad cry. He asked me to stop what I was doing and come home. We hugged and I said, “OK dad, I’ll change”, and I meant it. Within a few hours I began to sober up and that changed. I left out the back door and took off again. I got in some trouble and went away.
I met a girl and had two kids. I swore that I would change, but I didn’t.
My family relocated to Ohio. My plan was to change my life, but when I got to Strongsville and it was a completely different place than what I knew, I felt like I didn’t fit in. I was a kid from jersey with a huge chip on my shoulder. I found the nearest bar and began doing the same things I did back home. I met a girl and had two kids. I swore that I would change, but I didn’t. I kept doing what I always did and was in and out of their lives. I continued to get in trouble and was in and out of county jail.
In 2006, I was sentenced to the Ed Keating Center. I arrived there full of fear because I just couldn’t comprehend being sober. As soon as I arrived people welcomed me and made sure I had cigarettes and clothes. People tried to help me, but I wasn’t ready. I gravitated to the guys that were not doing the right thing. Long story short, from 2006 until 2022 I was in and out of the EKC (“The Rock”), detoxes, jails and my kids’ lives and that’s because I didn’t listen to the people that were trying to help me. When I did have a sponsor, I didn’t listen. When working on the 12 steps, I didn’t do them honestly. I wouldn’t let go of some of the things in the streets. In January of 2022, I walked into “The Rock” again. After a few hurdles and cutting corners, I decided it was time to change.
I wanted to be a man to the woman I love. I wanted to be a father and a son. So, I got busy, got a sponsor, and a support group. I went to meetings and began working steps honestly. One of the hardest suggestions I got was for me and my girlfriend not to see each other for a little bit. She was also in treatment at the same time I was. We needed time to focus on ourselves. Today I’m grateful we listened. We have a good relationship today because we listened and focused on ourselves.
In February my kids mother died as a direct result of this disease, and I was able to be by their side when they buried their mom. I have a home with my girlfriend and stepdaughter. I have a great career today. I am a licensed asbestos abatement supervisor. I’m trusted with keys to our office and shop. I have a company credit card. I have a great relationship with my father today. Everything in my life today is because I surrendered and let other people help me. I stopped trying to do it myself. The Ed Keating Center, Alcoholics Anonymous, and the 12 steps changed my life. I had to let go of my old ways. Today, I make sure I get to meetings, I help other people, and I pray. It is really that simple.