An American Dream Turned Nightmare

I was raised just like any other kid. My parents both worked full time, so we had a comfortable life. We would go on vacations and lived the normal American dream. I started to rebel at about 14 and went full on in my junior year of High School. I wanted to make my own decisions and not let my parents tell me what to do. I ditched school every day, drank, smoked weed, and played video games. I dabbled in other things, but the alcohol was my main issue. I lived with my parents until 25. I had a minimum wage job, trying to pay off a DUI, where I worked as a functional alcoholic. I wasn’t motivated to do anything or go anywhere in life. My parents would kick me out of the house and I would find a way to work while homeless, then they would let me come back.

I walked out on my job one day after my parents kicked me out. I tried to kill myself and they shipped me out to Chino where I was held in a mental facility for 72 hours. When they released me, I got my last paycheck and I went on a three day bender. The first night, I stopped and slept in front of a church after asking God for help. I knew life was pointless if I was just going to live like this then die; why did I even exist? My parents told me I had to get into a program. I knew about the Mission, that it was faith-based, and it was kind of a problem for me because I wasn’t religious. But, I wanted to be close to my family, so I came here. I was in the program four months, and doing well, when I got my tax return. It was $1000, the most money I had at one time. I left the program and moved back with my parents. I said I was never coming back; I would either do it the first time or not at all.

I ended up messing up two weeks later on my birthday. It was the worst relapse ever. They kicked me out of the house again and I wound up back at square one. I came back here for four days, but my pride would not allow me to stay. I had been halfway done and saw others still doing well. I thought my parents would take me back again, but they said, “No, we’re completely done with you.” I had to stay on the streets for two weeks before I could get back into the Mission. During that time, I tried crystal meth for the first time and got into all kinds of crazy things. I ended up under a bush half dead, but I knew if I could just last three more days and get back to the Mission, I would be OK. My clothes were moldy, eyes were bloodshot, I was messed up from a fight, but I knew I needed to be here.

Because of this place, I actually have a chance to make something out of my life. From having no hope, I now have hope. I have completed the program, enrolled in Ventura college, and was just hired by Lowes. This place is saving lives; whether it’s the line guests having a meal or the people in the program. This place is saving lives. Not just one or two people, but they, and you, are helping hundreds of people.