JR Commits To Recovery, Enjoys Beautiful Relationship With Son

JR met his girlfriend after high school, when they were working at the outlets in Camarillo. When she got pregnant, her dad helped JR get a job at Cal State Channel Islands. “That was probably the most successful part of my life and it was because of my son,” he said. “I worked at the library and some other small buildings. I didn’t have anything before my son was born. Then I got this job, and I got my license, saved my money, paid rent, and bought a car. I’m capable of doing really well and being successful.”

JR’s son was born, and a couple years later, a friend at work introduced him to prescription painkillers. “My girlfriend and I had been arguing and I was in sort of a down place,” JR said. “I started experimenting, and that’s where my heavy addiction came into play. Everything started going downhill. It’s nobody’s fault but mine. I started missing work, showing up late, leaving early, and I ended up losing my job. That was the worst thing I could have ever done.”

JR and his girlfriend separated and he was staying with his mom. But when he moved onto heroin and his mom found out, she told him he had to leave. “I ended up living on the street for two years. It was pretty bad. I couldn’t see my son. I just kept using and using to numb that pain of not being able to be around him. I was embarrassed and ashamed.”

JR only saw his son a couple times while he was homeless. “I remember calling my baby’s mother and telling her, ‘I really miss you guys.’ She agreed to bring my son and meet me at the park. I saw them walking up but they weren’t coming close to me. I’d try to give her a hug, and she was just disgusted. That hurt me so bad. I never want to experience that again.”

JR said he was “running wild, doing bad things,” resulting in jail time for theft and possession. But after borrowing a car he knew had been stolen, JR was facing some serious time. “I had a two-year prison term over my head. It really frightened me.”

JR wanted a change. He’s been at the Mission since April. “We feed the homeless people when they come to eat, and I know a handful of them,” JR said. “They say, ‘Oh, you look good, keep it up.’ Or they ask me if I miss it. I say, ‘Absolutely not.’”

“God is really heavy in here. I’ve had God before, but I strayed from him because of my lifestyle. I’ve never been this close to God. I try to stay in the word as much as I can. All the guys who are serious about their recovery and walk with the Lord—that’s probably the best part.”

JR, now 28, has plans to become a barber after he graduates. “I haven’t been this happy in a while now. I’m super blessed. This program has changed me for the better. I’m putting all I have into my recovery. That day at the park, when my son was looking at me, it was like he didn’t know who I was. That made me sick. I see him every weekend now. It’s beautiful. It’s almost perfect. I wouldn’t trade it for anything to go back to my old ways.”