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The Human Experience: Overcoming Tragedy... Greg's Story

Updated on March 22, 2012
I have known some incredible people in my lifetime.
I have known some incredible people in my lifetime. | Source
My best support system.
My best support system. | Source

Thank you for dropping by for installment two of The Human Experience. If you missed my first installment then what in the world have you been doing? I’m smiling as I type that of course!

The Human Experience will be a series of articles written about… well… us! It is my belief that we, as humans, are remarkable and that many among us have done incredible things during their lifetime that beautifully encompasses all that is great about mankind. I have no doubt that all of you know of someone who has overcome odds that might bring most of us to our knees, but through determination or attitude or other such qualities they have persevered and in fact thrived.

The Human Experience takes a look at that unique animal called man. What makes us tick? What is our sense of purpose? What do we seek for gratification? How do we need social interaction and how do our feelings and emotions affect our actions?

We are over seven billion strong and the numbers are increasing rapidly; seven billion unique individuals and yet we all have so many similarities. I guess I had two goals in mind when I started this series. First I wanted to highlight some special people in my life who have struggled, almost fallen but simply refused to give up. With that in mind this series is a celebration of life for all of us because that drive, that refusal to give up, is inherent in each of us.

The other goal I had was to hopefully highlight the fact that we really aren’t that different after all. If all of us could just get past the differences, the religions and race and sexual orientation, and just concentrate on the fact that we are all human beings, maybe we could take a huge step towards being all that we are capable of being.

With that introduction out of the way allow me to introduce you to Greg.


Greg and Marcy were married fifteen years ago and promptly had two spunky, energetic little bundles of dynamite, Bobby and Travis. Greg worked for a wholesale provider and Marcy was a teacher and they set about building a life for their family, a life built on love of family and a strong faith.

They bought their first home shortly after they were married. Both had saved some money and combined they were able to save enough for that starter home. On weekends they would take the boys to the park or picnics at the beach and truly it would be difficult to find two more devoted parents.

Two months after their fifth wedding anniversary Marcy was coming home from her mother’s house and was hit broadside by a drunk driver. She died two days later. Greg, to say the least, was devastated.


I met Greg two years after Marcy’s death. He had just come out of a thirty-day alcohol treatment center and he came into an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting on a day that I was chairing the meeting. He introduced himself as newcomers are encouraged to do and then set about building a new, sober life for himself and his two sons.

After a month or so I introduced myself to Greg and he asked me shortly after that to be his sponsor. Consequently I had the opportunity to get to know him well and in addition I became friends with his two sons. It would be impossible for anyone to meet his sons Bobby and Travis without liking them. They were and still are great kids who smile and laugh at life and are filled with a love of everything life has to offer them.

Greg, on the other hand, had lost something the day Marcy died and it was going to take some work for him to re-discover his love of life. To his credit he was determined and was a willing student as we set about rebuilding his life without alcohol.


My job, as Greg’s sponsor, was to pass on the lessons I had learned. We have a preamble in AA that goes something like this: “If anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help I want the hand of AA always to be there and for that I am responsible.” It is my job, as a recovering alcoholic, to make sure I am always available for those who truly want sobriety and all the gifts that come with it.

Greg and I worked the Twelve Steps of AA together and had many a heart-to-heart talk about the fairness of life and what Greg needed to do so he could be available to his sons as a responsible and loving father. It was hard work because we not only had to strengthen him from the beat-down that alcohol had given him but also we had to mend his broken heart.

There were many nights when the expected phone call would come from Greg saying he just couldn’t go on, that life was just too much, that he didn’t think he could be a good enough father for his sons. Always I would remind him that he could go on, that he was strong enough, that he did not have to face it all alone and there was support for him. It was a painful process for Greg and it was painful for me as well, but it was also one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, watching this broken man regain his ability to love himself and eventually love his life.


The real breakthrough came about five years ago….maybe it was six, I simply do not recall. Greg and I went to the cemetery to visit Marcy’s grave and he broke down at the grave site. After what seemed to me to be agonizing hours but surely was only minutes I told him we needed to say the Serenity Prayer together. “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.”

We were walking back to the car and he said to me, “I can do this.” And from that day on he has, indeed, done it.

Today you would be hard-pressed to find a more devoted and loving father. Greg quit his wholesale job to take a lesser-paying position that afforded him more time with his sons. He sold the house that he and Marcy had purchased and bought a smaller home that was more affordable. On weekends he is shuttling the two boys around to their games and cheering them on. On week nights he reads to them and plays catch in the front yard with them and makes sure that they always remember the mother who loved them so much.


I have had people ask me what gifts I receive from Alcoholics Anonymous. Well, besides the obvious gift of getting my life back I am also lucky enough to be able to work with people like Greg and marvel at the resilience of the human spirit. We humans are a remarkable species, capable of taking a head-on blow to our psyches and getting up off the mat to fight another round. I don’t know how many times Greg has thanked me for saving his life and I don’t know how many times I have thanked Greg for giving my life rewards that simply cannot be measured.

I am incredibly lucky! I should be dead; God knows I did everything in my power to be dead but somehow I survived three decades of alcohol abuse. As a reward for finally getting my act straight I now have been given the opportunity to work with people like Greg and reap the rewards of his sobriety. How damn cool is that?

I am humbled by Greg’s struggles and subsequent victories, just as I am humbled every single time I see people struggling in this thing called life and yet persevering despite the odds. As long as there is a breath in me I will continue to grab hold of any hand that reaches out for help, just as others grabbed my hand when I needed it. That, my friends, is called the celebration of life!

2012 Bill Holland (aka billybuc)

Do you know of someone like Greg who has overcome tremendous obstacles?

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    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Awww, P.S. thank you! I am in the sunshine now and don't plan on returning to the darkness. I kind of like it out here now that I found the way. :)

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 5 years ago from sunny Florida

      Greg and his sons were lucky to find you. As you have said you all have benefited from this heart stirring experience, BB. I am so glad for you that you found your way out of those bottles and into the sunshine where you can shine on us through your stories of hope and possibilities. Bless you, my Friend. ps

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jama, you are making me blush! When I consider all of the pain I caused over the years the least I can do is help someone else lessen their own personal damage. Thank you for being such a kind, gracious human being.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Bill, it takes seemingly super-human strength to first overcome alcohol's hold on yourself and then take on the responsibility of helping another alcoholic do the same. For both, you have my heartfelt admiration. And ALSO for relating Greg's story so beautifully. Well done!

      Voted up, awesome and beautiful. ;D

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Eddy, thank you! The Serenity Prayer says it all for me if I ever plan to live life on life's terms. I lose my peace when I decide I am going to force things to a square peg in a round hole, it does not happen. Peace to you and your family!

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 6 years ago from Wales

      This is a wonderful story billy; as well as telling us about the remarkable bravery of your friend you have also showed us your heart as big as houses.

      You are a true gem and I am bookmarking this one into 'My special hubs'.

      Oh yes that 'Serenity Prayer' I have tried to live my life by these words and so far they have not let me down.

      Thank you so much billy I am proud to call you my friend.


    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Michele, that was a wonderful thing to say; thank you! If I have done that they all the stumbles along the way have been worth it.

    • Michele Travis profile image

      Michele Travis 6 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

      What a wonderful hub. You may not know all you have done, you may have even saved someone's life. You support someone, you show them the way, they come into the rooms and find friends and do not feel alone. That is a gift. You are a wonderful person.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Awww, shoot, Cyndi, I have a hard time with such nice compliments. Guess I'll have to work at that. Thank you my dear; I'm glad there are people like you who enjoys my work.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 6 years ago from Western NC

      Beautiful! You are an amazing person and it shows in your writing. I tell ya, every hub you write just captures and holds my attention. You're awesome!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ruchira, it always brings a smile to my face to see that you have stopped by. Greg is a wonderful man who just needed a hand to get up off the ground. He is an inspiration to me and to many others. Thank you for your kind comments.

    • Ruchira profile image

      Ruchira 6 years ago from United States

      Bill, I am touched how you went back in time and dug out your old friends and are showing gratitude towards them.

      Speaks a lot about your self as well.

      Wishing you and your friend, Greg peace since, he lost his better half in this journey of life.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sonya my dear, I couldn't agree more. We are an amazing species! My best to you and your family!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Old Albion, thank you sir! It's been a tough road but one worth taking to get to the place I'm at now. My best to you as well.

    • Sonya L Morley profile image

      Sonya L Morley 6 years ago from Edinburgh

      People are strong and brave, I love your writing! Take care.

    • old albion profile image

      Graham Lee 6 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Another first class hub Billy. You have been there and done that, you know what it's like. Rather than turn away and try to forget, you are calling out to help others. voted up.

      Best Wishes.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Rolly my Canadian friend, thank you! The road has been an interesting one for sure; glad I'm still able to travel at all. Be safe in the wild country and I appreciate you greatly.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Kelley, thank you! I wouldn't be here today if it were not for some special people who cared about me and helped me when I couldn't help myself. It's now my turn to pay it forward. I appreciate you stopping by once again. And please call me Bill; time we got rid of the nickname between us!

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image

      Rolly A Chabot 6 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Billy... as always a great read and the roads we have travelled have brought us to where we are today... Thank you for sharing with us.

      Hugs from Canada

    • profile image

      kelleyward 6 years ago

      Billybuc you are truly an inspiration to me. I love to hear real stories of real genuine people overcome huge difficulties like addictions that last for over 3 decades. Wow! Thanks for sharing this! Voted UP and useful.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Paula; I get as much out of it as Greg and others like him. It is a wonderful story of conquering the beast within us...well, maybe not conquering, but at least keeping it on its leash. Thank you for a great comment and as always for your friendship.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 6 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      bill...Greg succeeded to gain back his zest for life and be the man he knew he always was, including a loving and involved Dad. As you say, this is an uphill struggle that requires inner strength, determination and the support of others. This victory tale is heartwarming and I can imagine how fulfilling it is for you (as well as the group) to be a part of this. To witness the process and final positive result must be a "high," like no other. Wonderful story. UP+++

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Well shoot Lisa, you have me blushing. I sensed long ago that we had much in common from reading your hubs and I am very happy to have you as a friend. Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ardie, I like you more every single day. Thank you so much. Greg is a special guy and I'm the lucky one to be able to reach out and help. Thank you my dear and I feel the same way about you.

    • EclecticFusion profile image

      Lisa 6 years ago from Tennessee

      Specialness right here! I don't even think that's a word, but I had to use it to describe this Hub and you! You touched someone's life and you both benefited from it! You are my kind of people!

    • Ardie profile image

      Sondra 6 years ago from Neverland

      This is a remarkable write up about Greg and about the person YOU have become. Tears filled my eyes while I read this because I know the road you both have been down is not an easy trip. But my goodness you've both made it. Anyone who reads Greg's story and knows your story cant help but be proud of you both. I am honored to be your friend :D

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jlava, I'm not sure the world could handle more than one of me. :) Thank you for the lovely comment; I write for people like you and others and I appreciate you greatly.

    • Jlava73 profile image

      Jennifer Vasconcelos 6 years ago from Cyberspace and My Own World

      Billy, The world needs more people like you! Your stories strengthen and inspire your readers.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Savanah and I happen to think you are pretty special too...and don't you forget it! Greg is a good man and I'm lucky to know him.

    • savanahl profile image

      savanahl 6 years ago

      What an inspiring story. You always seem to have a way at tugging on my heart.

      What a courageous man Greg is, and he's very lucky to have had such a compassionate sponsor. You're a good friend and a great man. Thank you for sharing this wonderful story.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      MarieAlice, thank you for visiting my site. I'll be over to say howdy on yours shortly. Miracles do come; we just have to dig deep and ask for help if needed. Thank you!

    • MarieAlice profile image

      MarieAlice 6 years ago from Peru