I was born and raised in Waterbury, CT., the first of three boys. I was raised in the Catholic Church, and attended Our Lady of Mount Carmel. After eight years in that church, I made altar boy at age fourteen. My first taste of alcohol was in the church, and it was the communion wine. One day they went to get the wine for communion and there wasn’t any there because I had drunk it all. That was when I got my first good beating, and that was also the end of my career as an altar boy. The first time I really got drunk was a few years later, when I was seventeen. I stole two 6-packs of Carling Black label beer, drank every one of them, and got toasted – sick as a dog. However, I liked the feeling I got from it. From that day on, I was off and running, and I didn’t take a day off until I was thirty-five years old.
I graduated from John F. Kennedy High School, and I was good enough at basketball to get a four-year scholarship to Huron College, a small school in South Dakota. It is a very cold place, as I found out. To make a long story short, I sustained a severe injury to my left ankle, and I lost my sports scholarship. My ankle has not been right ever since then. My Dad did not have a lot of money, so I had to drop out of school. I never went there for the education anyhow – I just wanted to play basketball. I came back to Connecticut and started drinking very heavily, almost a half-gallon of rum every day. I loved the way it made me feel. I met a girl who introduced me to marijuana, and I also loved the way that made me feel. She told me that I drank too much, and that pot was better for me, but I didn’t listen. Now I had two bad habits.
I joined the Air Force in 1971. At that point I had three bad habits, because I had also been introduced to a drug called cocaine. I spent seven years in the military, and every day was a holiday. It all ended in 1977 however, because I was set up and busted. There were a few charges: selling drugs, illegal prostitution, carrying a dangerous weapon, and discharge of a firearm on a military installation – all of which were felony charges. The commander had me locked up and stripped me of my rank, so I went from E5 Staff Sergeant to basic airman, and lost all my stripes. My parents were notified that I was locked up, and my mother was very upset, especially about the charge of prostitution. She said “How could you do that? I didn’t raise you that way.” Later, she almost had a nervous breakdown because of that. When she put my dad on the phone, he said, “Anything you do does not amaze me.” All I could say was, “You taught me well.”
The trial lasted two days. One of the things I did do right was that I kept a black book with all the drug transactions I had made. I had the dates, times, and names of all the officers I had sold drugs to, from full bird colonels down to second lieutenants. I told them, “If you want to punish me, I’m not going down alone. I will tell on every officer I sold drugs to.” That accounted for about 60% of the base. I had a very good lawyer, and after four hours of deliberations, they found me not guilty on all charges.
I got out of the service in October of 1977 and went home with only $50 in my pocket. Two weeks later I found a job in Ansonia, CT, at Anaconda American Brass. I hated that job so much that I stayed there for almost thirty years. I loved the money and the atmosphere, and the crazy life: drinking liquor, smoking weed, sniffing coke.
My father died in 1978, after working as a police officer in Waterbury for thirty-three years. He drank himself to death. I remember the day like yesterday, because I lost my best friend, and that took a big piece of my heart away.
On August 23, 1985, I went to the personnel office at Anaconda and told them that I had a problem. I was feeling very tired, and I needed to lay down somewhere. They couldn’t believe it, because I had never taken a day off and had never even been late. I loved to make that money because I had a serious habit, and that was how I supported it. I entered a program at the Shirley Frank Foundation, and stayed there thirty days. After finishing that program, I managed to stay clean for fourteen years. In April of 1992 I buried two of my brothers and my mother – that was a very hard pill to swallow. Eventually, I stopped going to the AA and NA meetings, and then I was off and running again. I was working, selling and sniffing coke, smoking weed, and I went to every party.
Around the year 2000 I slowed down because I was feeling tired again. It had gotten so bad that I had bottles of Bacardi rum all over the house – I even had one in the shower. I used to say to myself “I love me,” but what a lie that was! If I loved myself, why would I put all those chemicals in my system? It was not love, it was “A Ball of Confusion,” just like the song by the Temptations.
In late 2015, I met a man named Keith, and we became very close friends. Keith introduced me to James Thomas, who is a sexton and an outreach minister at Trinity Church. James is a powerful man, and I believe that God sent him to us. Within a short time, we became inseparable friends, sort of like the Three Musketeers. I have learned a lot in that time, and now life is going much better. I can honestly say now that I love myself.
One of the meetings that has been a tremendous help to me is the Tuesday Spiritual Fellowship at Trinity. I attend faithfully, and as long as God gives me the strength to get up in the morning, I will be there. I also attend and volunteer at the Sunday afternoon service at Trinity, called Chapel on the Green. At these meetings, I have learned that people really do care for me. I have been blessed by the Tuesday Spiritual Fellowship so much that I cannot even express it completely. God does wonders, and God deserves all the glory.