pete h



OCCUPATION: Home Improvement

AGE: 50

I'm just an average guy. You don't have to be special for God to love you. You just have to become aware of the love. I don't know all the answers. I just know God loves me and I know I love him.






Healing & Suffering
The only experience I had [with healing] was about suffering. And I didn’t really believe in any of that healing and recovery stuff. I would suffer for a few days and then throw up. Then I would get up and wouldn’t even take a bath. Just get washed off, and go out and buy some more drugs. I couldn’t endure, couldn’t make it through that withdrawal. I didn’t believe that people like me would ever be able to regain their lives.

Instinctive Knowing
But something inside of me kept telling me that it was wrong. It’s like if you send a space probe out in space, without any kind of guidance system, it just spins aimless off into space. My problem was I kept interfering with that guidance system. When I was out doing a burglary, I would pray if I heard sirens in the distance, that they weren’t coming to arrest me. So, I prayed, but I knew inside, instinctively, that there was something really wrong with me.
I thought God must have messed up when He made me, that there was some chemical missing in my brain that other people had so they could feel things like that. And I was so influenced by the drugs, I was so stupid that I didn’t realize it was the chemicals I was adding to my brain that were keeping me from feeling what I thought normal people felt.

A Real Man
It was 1969 when I thought, “Hey, I’ll go to Vietnam and I’ll become a hero, and I’ll get all these metals on my chest and it’ll solve all those fearful questions inside of me. No one will challenge me. I’ll know and they’ll know that I’m a real man.
Then I got so whacked out on the drugs. I started into drugs while I was in the Marine Corps and I got crazy with it and I was so defiant. Before I went into the Marine Corps I was a blatant alcoholic. I had used just strictly alcohol, but I got drunk three or four times a week, at least.

I did try. I did actually try. I even started studying with these born-again Christians and
I tried to really get things back together. But, when my time was up and they put me out in May – by Halloween of that year I was in Episcopal Hospital with a bullet in my spine because I had stolen some guns in a burglary and was selling them, and I ended up getting shot. . . . But thank God it got so bad right then. As it turned out, I finally broke, and I couldn’t live like that anymore. I think what broke me was a combination of the things that I hated most about myself. The fear. All the things at the time that were so negative. I didn’t want to be vulnerable, didn’t want to feel things, didn’t want to be sensitive.

Overwhelming Fear
I was shooting drugs into the juggler veins in my neck. I didn’t have any veins left in my body. In the end I was afraid. They used to say, “Once a junkie, always a junkie. You’ll die a junkie.” And I believed that. But what happened was, I went up to Eagleville [drug and alcohol inpatient rehab]. I had the syringe in my back pocket, in case things didn't work out. I went through the intake and when they accepted me, I took that syringe out and threw it in the trashcan.

Out of Touch
By that time I had been shot and stabbed in the jaw with a screwdriver. I didn’t know what to do. I started begging God to help me. I would walk through the chow line in the morning and I’d have my plate, and I’d go by the window and I’d want to punch out every window that I passed. I felt like Dracula, or something, when that stuff was out of my system. There was so much fear going on and it was coming out in all these violent thoughts in my head. I was raging inside because I didn’t know how to stop it.
I just prayed. I would pray, “God, look, let me get through 'til lunch time.” And at lunchtime I’d have that experience and I would say, “Let me just make it through to dinner.” At dinner, I’d go back and say, “Look, let me get to that meeting.” And at the meeting I’d say...
You know those prayers that I was sending out –I was starting to connect with this loving parent. The initial belief system that hit me there is the belief system that I still have today, so I know that it was real... These new thoughts were piercing my consciousness and getting through to me.

Just Kept Going
Anyway, I got through the Eagleville experience, came out, and started going to meetings. It was terrifying for me, I used to shake inside, violently, man, my insides would jump, the same feeling I had when my father used to hit my mother. But I just kept going to the meetings.
Then I got really ill. Really sick. Couldn’t walk for awhile, bladder, bowels, and all, shut down, marriage was falling apart. Everything was getting crazy. Before that, when I got clean, I started running everyday. I was playing ball. I was real athletic. Plus I was in control at work. I ran everything. I took so much pride in what I did, and I didn’t realize it at the time. But I got so sick that I got fired from my job. They told me I had this spinal disease and it started to really impact my life. They told me I was going to end up in a wheelchair, which didn’t happen.

Help from God
In the very beginning of my experience of healing, when I started to believe in that “loving parent” theory, I started to believe that there was some hope for me. Getting the help from God, I was going to be able to do it. That’s really where my healing began. . . . My faith started on grace in the beginning. I started to believe that I could be okay. That was the change. I stopped believing the lie and I started to see the truth – that I didn’t have to feel that way anymore. . . .I just know that in my life it was more of a process than it was one single event.

Something Missing
I realized that even during my recovery time I had drifted back into a lot of self-centered stuff. Being in the hospital, being totally incapacitated, was another breakthrough in my development, spiritually. The arrogance of self importance, you know, when you’re really successful, man, its hard to say, “Hey, if it's not broke then don’t fix it. What am I doing wrong?” But then, I knew there was something missing inside of me.
I used to go on retreat with a friend of mine, Father Mike. He would talk about the Enneagram ( which describes the nine personality types. I was a “seven” which is an enthusiastic doer -- always busy, always doing. I read a couple books on the subject and they said that a person of that personality type can try to get it in other kinds of forms, but the only deep, lasting thing, is the spiritual.

Compassionate Feelings
I really believe with all my heart and soul, that God is love. Have you ever read, “How long will you hide your face from me?” It’s a quote from the Psalms. It’s in compassion that he reveals his face. That’s why one person helping another is so effective.
I remember sitting in a meeting at the penitentiary and this guy was talking about stabbing himself over and over again in his chest with a butcher knife, in a psychotic episode, just trying to make the pain stop. And I felt like I loved that guy. I knew how it felt to be so full of despair and to be so angry.

Prepared to Die
When I was in Florida the doctors were saying I was going to be dead in a couple years. I’d had a couple heart failures, my heart functions were damaged fifty percent. They diagnosed me with Hepatitis C. My spleen, liver and heart were enlarged, because of this damage. The valves were all leaking. The spinal disease I had created a lot of conditions.

Saved by Love
One thing I learned was that if you resist pain, if you tense up and try to resist the pain, it hurts a lot worse. That’s where the pain comes from, resisting the process. When I read the [St. Francis] prayer I would relax and I would be able to do things without the pain.
They told me I was going to become impotent. . . .They told me I was going to develop spastic paralysis in my legs. . . . They told my sponsor and my wife, that I would be dead in a couple years. That was seven years ago. I knew then that they were wrong.

Free Will
I feel that the spiritual journey is just that, it’s a journey. Every once in awhile you come up on forks in the road, and you have to choose, again. Love is a choice. That’s why I think we are created in God’s image. It’s that we have the ability to love. For a lot of years, I thought had to figure God’s signal out before I could use it. And if I didn’t get it quite right, oh boy, was I going to pay. There was going to be this big hand at the end of the maze, “oops, (slap) wrong exit!” You know?

Positive Energy
I tested positive for active Hepatitis back in ‘95. I had a biopsy done. The last couple years I’ve gone to the doctor to get my clearance done, and my Hepatitis C is undetectable. And I could never take the treatments, the interferon, because of my heart, because of my spine, because of my nerve damage. . . .They said, “You can’t take the medicine because of the nerve damage. You have to be in relatively good health.” Now, the hepatitis isn’t showing up. I don’t know what that’s about. But, I know that as long as I have that good stuff passing through me, its going to change me.

Light Shining Through
I was on retreat, where they have prayer time set aside in one adoration room. Usually, when I’d go in there it was daytime, and I’d see the light coming through the beautiful stained glass. One night I went in there, when I was going through the sickness and all. It was dark outside, and all I could see were gray shadows where the stained glass normally is. And I thought about how much like that our lives are. We’re just in this gray, kind of shadow world. We need that light to shine through us to make us beautiful, like the beauty of that stained glass. It’s only possible when the light is going through it. Knowing that I need that light passing through me is the surest sign I know for me to define healing.





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The base illustration ia courtesy of Francene Hart. The inspirational art-making of visionary artist Francene Hart "acts as a bridge between this reality and a metaphorical world of healing, continuity, and transformation." To view a gallery of Francene's work, please visit

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