“Yeah, there’s something about being out on the ocean. The intensity of Mother Nature.
The exhilaration of catching all that fish started at an early age — eight years old — then it just became a part of me.
One of my grandparents adopted me. They were my parents and I just followed my grandfather everywhere. I remember going to church and falling asleep on his chest when I was four years old.
So we built that father-son relationship. He was my mentor and my teacher and pretty much my world.
I started drinking at the age of 12. I was drinking pretty regularly with my brothers. I thought that’s what all kids do.
I was at this friend’s trailer and we were drinking. The state troopers found me and said that I needed to call home, ‘Bad news, your grandfather passed away.’
I didn’t know how to respond and just said, ‘okay, okay.’ There was just a lot of pain and I remember sitting in the middle of the floor crying.
It really hurt and I think about it right now and a lot of memories come back.
I drank a lot. My alcoholism really picked up. The [boat] captain said, ‘Wilson, we just can’t have you when you’re drinking,’ and he fired me.
We got rid of the family boat. I was homeless. I had no direction in life.
I kept bugging employers about mining and they said, ‘we have a job‘ and I said yes.
I’ve lost some good friends underground. Myself, I’ve been very close to death.
That kind of lifestyle — a lot of drinking, a lot of drugs and sleeping with other wives — was just a really dysfunctional lifestyle.
I was an alcoholic for 30 years. I struggled so hard with my addiction, living that kind of lifestyle.
I said to myself, ‘you know what? I’ve worked so hard and been through so much danger that I deserve to drink.”
I was always drinking almost half a gallon every two days. I was smoking crack and I got introduced to heroin.
One night at about three in the morning I panicked. I didn’t know where I was. I needed something to drink.
I remember drinking a whole bottle of wine in two drinks. That calmed my nerves.
At about 6:30 my brother was taking me to my job. I was still intoxicated and I started to feel I was trembling.
That’s where I hit my rock-bottom emotionally and I looked at him and said, ‘can you just take me to the ER?’
At that moment I decided, ‘I’m gonna commit myself to sobriety,’ and I took it very seriously.
I felt so relieved, like I was released from bondage.
I thought about all the ugly feelings and I never ever want to feel that way again.
I remember the peacefulness when I reflected back on waking up Sundays and going to church.
I was thinking about how I grew up in The Salvation Army so I went to it and I really felt the holy spirit in me.
You know, I was just overwhelmed. I started to cry and I was just so happy. I said, ‘I really love you God.’
After that I was different.
Every day of my life I wake up so happy. I’m not drunk. I’m not shaking. I’m not in that despair. I just love the new life.”
If you need help battling addiction or want to help someone like Wilson, please click here for more information on The Salvation Army’s website.