Thomas's Story

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I started drinking and smoking when I was around 16 years old. I was shy and I just wanted to fit in and feel wanted among my friends. I figured that if I would drink like everyone else, I would be accepted. I really had fun drinking and liked how it made me feel. I lost direction in my life at a young age. After High School, I did not want to go to college. So when I was 18 years old, I decided to join the United States Navy.

After completing boot camp, I was stationed in the central valley; I was on my own, living life in the military. I again was the shy kid and really wanted to fit in and make friends. I started going to the dorm parties and I was drinking a lot. I would get so drunk that I would be sick, but no matter how sick I got, I was still having fun and would keep drinking. When it was time for me to leave on my first deployment, I was really scared, but after learning the legal drinking age overseas, I was excited.

At 22 years old, I left the military with an honorable discharge and moved back home to Bakersfield. At this point, I was drinking pretty much every day. I started a relationship with an amazing woman, but my drinking was getting worse. We would fight a lot. I tried to end the relationship, but we learned that she was pregnant. I decided to be a man, stay, and take responsibilities. I was always stressed out, and I would drink so much. I hated where I was in life. Our relationship finally ended after two children, lots of fighting and so much drinking.

I was alone, my heart was empty and I felt desperate for affection. I became a reckless man, and I was arrested at 27 years old for being publicly intoxicated. I was so drunk and so high I could not move from the ground. The arrest did not change my drinking habit, I just kept getting worse.

I started new relationship with a girl who was everything I was looking for. We were still in a brand new relationship when she found out she was pregnant. I thought it would be different this time. I was working and she stayed home, she even helped me out with my other two children. I really thought I could make this work. As time started to go by, my stress got the best of me. We were living paycheck to paycheck. I was dealing with my stress by drinking and doing drugs. After almost four years, and two children, she had enough of my drinking and she left me.

At this stage in my life, I was spiraling downward fast. I was depressed and I was hiding it. I was drinking and using drugs more and more. I did anything I could to numb the pain. I was going to work intoxicated. At 33 years old, I was accused of a crime that I did not commit. This messed me up so bad that I ended up in the hospital with alcohol poisoning. A few months later, I got a DUI. I eventually lost my job, my car and I lost my home. I felt like that 18 year old kid again with no direction.  

I manage to get another job, but my habits did not change. In May 2018, I was broke and bored, I really wanted to drink. I found a bottle of vodka in the fridge. I do not like liquor, but because I wanted to drink so badly, I drank it. I was so drunk. I was still drunk the next day when I had to go to work. My supervisor knew right away that I was intoxicated and he sent me home. I left work that day with tears running down my face. I needed help and knew I could not do it on my own. My sister made it her mission to find me help.

I started the Life Change Academy at the Visalia Rescue Mission on May 21, 2018. I am nine months in to my one-year journey to recovery. I thank God I made the choice to get help. The mission is teaching me how to be a spiritual man, how to live properly and how to live life without alcohol and drugs. I am aware of things that may trigger me to drink; I know the signs to watch for that I may be heading toward a relapse. My support team at Visalia Rescue Mission are here for me. If it was not for the mission, I do not know where I would be. I probably would be living on the streets. My relationship with my children is really good. They see the changes I am making, I am spending more time with them and they know I am getting the help I need. I want to get a job in the future. I want to pay off all my debt and buy a home. I have to start from the ground and work my way up, and I know I can do it now because I have a clear head.

Tattooed on my arm are words I live by. It says; God did not promise days without pain, laughter without sorrow, or sun without rain, but God did promise strength for the day, comfort for the tears, and light for the way. I did not know the Visalia Rescue Mission existed. Thank God, my sister found this program. The only place I can go now is up, I was all the way at the bottom, and I keep climbing every day. Today is today, tomorrow is tomorrow, and I do not look back at yesterday, because yesterday is gone.