They were the worst words Sonny would hear. They came out of the blue in the midst of what he thought was a good relationship. His world came crashing down around him.
When Sonny’s (Sunil’s) wife of 17 years blurted out that she didn’t love him anymore, he felt like tearing himself apart. Sadly, separation and divorce was unavoidable. Sonny’s heartache and pain quickly led to depression and alcohol abuse.
For the next 10 years, while Sonny managed to hold his job as a microbiologist, his hard-core drinking damaged his relationship with his two children, made his depression worse and caused health problems. But he continued to drink anyway.
Guilt and shame took an enormous toll on Sonny. Many times he wanted to end his life. But when he held the razor blade close enough to break the skin of his wrists, he just couldn’t follow through.
Then Sonny hit what he calls ‘rock bottom’. He tearfully recollects his kids calling him a ‘useless drunk.’ “I was devastated,” says Sonny. “My kids needed me, and I admitted it was time to reach out for help.” But Sonny had burned many bridges with family and friends. He didn’t know who to turn to or where to go. Then he learned of The Salvation Army’s Addiction & Rehabilitation Centre in Glencairn, Ont.
Salvation Army addictions programs have been in Canada for a century. When Sonny arrived at Hope Acres he wanted dramatic, positive changes in his life. But, his efforts to quit drinking were unsuccessful and he left before completing the six-month residential treatment program.
Desperate to achieve permanent sobriety and a life of integrity, Sonny eventually returned. “The Army didn’t look at me as a hopeless drunk,” says Sonny. “They sincerely cared and wanted me to succeed. Through their sound support network and professional help I learned healthier coping strategies, and how to make better decisions when dealing with life’s challenges.”
Recovery is a bumpy road, requiring time and patience. While Sonny has been sober for three years, life didn’t magically change when he became sober. He has since turned to his local Salvation Army in Barrie for food, shelter, and a shoulder to lean on.
Today Sonny is teaching microbiology at Barrie’s Georgian College, he lives in an apartment of his own and has rebuilt a relationship with his children that once was so torn apart.
Says Sonny: “Real pain, real stress, real mistakes, real joy, real accomplishment. This is the reality of recovery.”