Tony's Story

Meet Tony.jpg

Nothing was ever going to help me. I became addicted to meth when I was 19 years old. That was my rock bottom. I was living in the dump and was almost killed a couple of times. I was living in Mexico at the time. My parents had allowed me to live there, and I thought it was my opportunity for freedom. I went through a recovery program where I was living, but I knew I was still going to drink and maybe still smoke marijuana. When I came back here after the recovery program, I did exactly those things. When I started drinking, I realized I was going right back to the person I used to be. I felt isolated, people stopped wanting to be around me because I was destructive. I didn’t have anything, everyone was pushing me away, and everything in my life was going wrong.

A wonderful family adopted me when I was 14. This family has taken care of me, been there for me, even through ugly parts. Throughout my life I was mistreated, beaten, sexually abused and just all kinds of stuff. My grandfather raised me until I was 8 years old. He died when I was 8. I stayed with my grandma for a couple of years, and then my aunt took me. I thought living with my aunt would be great, but it wasn’t. She would have to put make-up on my face to cover the marks so that the school wouldn’t know how bad she had beaten me. My grandma took me back for a while until my Aunt Lola said she could help find me home. My Aunt Lola is a really nice lady, she is like my fairy godmother. She was always coming and going, kind of a character in my life. When things would be bad with a family she had taken me to, she would come back and take me to the next one. She found the family that adopted me, the family that included me on vacations, and the family that I have been with for 10 years now.

Being moved from family member to family member made me feel like I always had to adapt. It was hard for me to adapt, I wasn’t a really an outgoing kid. I learned to just stay to myself. Some people say that they’ve had the same friend since kindergarten, I never had that.

My brother in law knew about the Visalia Rescue Mission. His brother was going through the program, and things were getting better. He didn’t tell me I needed to go to the program; he just would tell me that maybe there was potential for me to change in a program like this. He told me it was not his decision to make, but that coming to the program at the Visalia Rescue Mission would be a good idea.

My family and I are a work in progress. There are still a lot of little things to fix. My sister recently told me she was proud of me by text message. That really touched me. My mom is slowly starting to trust me again and she wants me around. There for a while, they didn’t want me to come around; they were worried I would be a bad influence on my little brother. My dad was done with me, he didn’t think I could change, but he is getting there. He told my mom he’d drop me off after my visit, that is a big deal; it shows me he is starting to accept me back.

I am learning a lot, learning to know how to deal with my emotions. They call it riding the wave, learning to understand my emotions. I really love how the Bible is being broken down so that I can understand what it means. There is not a lot of people who break it down as they do here. I feel like I am really learning how God works. Before, I felt like I was just a shell, I called myself a hypocrite. I would go to church, act like a Christian, but then I’d come home, smoke a joint, and drink alcohol. I am much more open now. If I make a mistake, I admit it and bring it to light. I was never able to do that before the program.

I really want to live a Christian life. I want to attend church regularly, go back to school, and find a job. I’m interested in being an EMT, and maybe later, this idea is a bit far-fetched, but I want to be a comedian. Maybe someday.

I want to add that the Visalia Rescue Mission has given me hope. I didn’t have hope before. I believe I can be a better person. I really thought I was never going to change. This program is working through me as an individual; I do not feel like I am just another person in a recovery group. I am not that guy that just brings chaos to everything he touches, now I can actually be a light to other brothers, I can be an example, or even just a shoulder to lean on.