Dean Wilson didn’t have a sip of alcohol until he was 21 years old. He admittedly, however, made up for it.
“I started to deal with stress in a way that became dependent on alcohol,” Wilson said of life in his 30s. “Alcohol, like a lot of other addictions, are progressive, they don’t get better in time.”
But today, Wilson is a sober and faith-filled husband and father, who hosts a television show called “Good Life TV” which airs on TVSB and YouTube. His show focuses on “good” things, positivity and optimism.
In the latest episode of Santa Barbara Talks with Josh Molina, Wilson walks the audience through his life story, including his battle and recovery from alcohol addiction, and the role God has played in his life.
“I was in a real bad place,” Wilson said. “It was a dark, tough season. I was still running companies. I had some blow-ups along the way as typical people who are in that do. I blew up a lot of relationships, friendships. I was just not me.”
Wilson said he woke up in 2010 and the house was empty. Watch the full hour-long interview below.
“We came to a point where my wife took our kids,” Wilson said. “It was just to a point where she said ‘this has got to change.’ That was a very courageous act on her part.”
Wilson decided to enter rehab for 51 days in South Texas near the Guadalupe River.
Wilson grew up the son of a pastor in Orange County, but said he didn’t really find God until he found himself alone in a one-room cabin.
“I had a real experience with grace and mercy of God because I thought I lost everything,” Wilson said. “I literally thought I had nothing.”
During rehab he found himself on his face on the floor of wood cabin and he was desperate.
“I had an experience with God,” Wilson said. “It was almost a physical experience. I was overwhelmed by mercy. It was this amazing night that changed me.”
The clarity, he said, made him realize that he had built a life on false foundations — wealth, prestige, status and social networks. He learned that it was OK to find comfort in himself and his faith.
“I was left with ‘what if I am just Dean. Just this guy,'” Wilson said. “No titles, not even any friends. I actually ended up feeling OK. God loves me. God likes me. God forgives me. “
Wilson is now the president and CEO of the Turner Foundation. He has been married for 25 years to his wife Susan and has five children: Hannah, Grace, Ella Claire, DJ and Luke.
During the podcast, Wilson also talks about the importance of being kind to everyone, regardless of political perspective.
“If we want to fight, and we want to tell the other person what is wrong with them all the time, No. 1 it is exhausting, and 2, it really doesn’t get us anywhere,” Wilson said.
He said he lives by the motto of “malice toward none.” Service, he said, is what brings people together.
“Most people have an interest in helping others,” Wilson said. “That’s who we are made to be.”
Joshua Molina is journalist who currently writes for Noozhawk and teaches journalism at Santa Barbara City College. He formerly covered politics and land use for the San Jose Mercury News. Santa Barbara Talks is an independently owned podcast where Molina looks to bring together voices from all perspectives to discuss and provide solutions to the challenges related to housing, education, transportation and other community issues. Subscribe to his podcast here and consider a contribution here.