In 1972, I became addicted to heroin. I had never done drugs or drank before that. My uncles had come back from Vietnam and they had brought heroin back with them. That is how I was introduced to it. I was addicted by the time I was 13 years old. Also at 13, I lost my virginity, a choice that resulted in pregnancy. Back then, if you were going to have a child, you had to go to work. I dropped out of middle school; I didn’t attend high school. I needed to get clean. I went to my fathers’ home in Martinez and they locked me in a room. I quit heroin cold turkey. I took a job pumping gas, and did that for a while. I eventually went to work for my step-dad. He had a roofing business, and I worked in that business for 25 years. I didn’t touch heroin again, but I did have other addictions all through this period of my life. Alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine in the 80’s. When I met my wife, she was against drugs. She had a lot of influence on me and because of her, I beat my addictions. We did drink alcohol, but we were responsible.
I had given up; I did not want to live anymore. I met my wife when I was 43 years old. She was my soulmate. She was one of a kind, unique. The strength and faith in my life was my wife. I made the money and she took care of our faith. We had a good life. Cancer took her in 2015. I was really messed up. I sold everything I owned, my house, property, car, everything. I spent every dollar I had trying to take myself out. I didn’t want to kill myself by my own hand, I didn’t believe in that, but I tried every other way possible. It didn’t work out. Thank God it didn’t go according to my plans, he had other plans for me.
My wife and I lived in Oklahoma. The only family I have in my life still is my brother. My brother was in Visalia, so I came here. I was really messed up from the passing of my wife. My brother gave me a job after job, chance after chance, but I just didn’t care. I found myself with all my bridges burned. My brother knew I was hurting and he couldn’t fix it and I couldn’t fix it. When I gave up, it kind of just zapped my will, I didn’t want to be around, I had nothing to live for. I was doing a lot of meth; I was staying around bad people. I was almost gone.
When I got desperate, I would call my brother. Thank God for my brother. I had been staying in the overnight shelter but I had got kicked out. I was high. I was cold and sleeping outside on the sidewalk. My brother brought me in to the mission kicking and screaming and said I was going to join the program. I was about 135 pounds at the time. I didn’t want to join the program, but in my heart, I knew my brother was right. Even though I had given up, I still had false pride.
I could have left the program at any time, but my brother is the only family I have, and I didn’t want to lose that. I knew I needed to change my life, that was obvious, but I think I really knew about 3 months into the program. I stayed in the program and started participating in the classes. I have learned a lot of tools on coping from Trinity counseling. There is no fixing something like I am going through, but there is acceptance. I have to accept it. It sucks, but it is all I’ve got. I am not healed, but I have learned to accept it. I probably will never get back to what I was, but I am excelling to the best point that I can, at this place in my life.
After I graduate, I plan to get work with the help of my brother. He is good man. He is a roofing contractor. He knows a lot people. There aren’t any handouts, a hand up, maybe, but that is it. I have already burned a lot of bridges, it’s a slow process. I’m rebuilding my life, my family. I do plan to go into transition after graduation.
If I hadn’t come to the mission, I think I would dead, period. I’ve been here 9 months, and at the rate I was going, I couldn’t have lasted more than a couple more months. Since being in the program, I have started to feel better about myself. I have always had a relationship with Jesus, it grows day to day, but everything I do now is based on my relationship with Jesus and with my brother. I thank Jesus for guiding my brother to drag me in to the Visalia Rescue Mission Program, and I thank him for all my brothers and sisters here. I don’t always like them all but I love them all.