My name is Bill Eitel and I’m a person in long-term recovery from addiction, celebrating three years of recovery. Last fall, I was riding my bike home from school along Lake Michigan. It was a beautiful October evening. The waves were rolling against the shore to my right, and the amber lights from the high-rises and Lake Shore Drive shined to my left. The night was just starting to take on that sort of delicious October crispness that I’ve loved since I was a child. I was happy. I felt an inherent “rightness” to the moment, and then it hit me—this is my life now.
My life today in recovery is something I only dreamed of in my darker moments. I’ve been struggling with alcoholism since the late ‘80s, and it was a lonely, progressively downhill struggle for most of those years. I refused to accept that I couldn’t just handle it on my own. As a result of that flawed thinking, my life became completely unmanageable. I decayed into a shell of myself, a shadow of what I was, and what I could have been.
Those days were so dark, so bleak. Today I’m giving back to the souls still trapped in that darkness. I’m on staff at the very same rehab facility whose doors I first staggered through on a cold December day back in 2008. It took me more than once—I shuffled in and out seven times until 2011. I believe that God calls upon us to repeat the lessons we haven’t passed yet. Today as I write this, I’m back in school studying this disease we call addiction, and my time is otherwise filled with family, friends, art, and music—all the things I truly love.