Marshall moved around a lot as a child—his mom worked for the airlines and his dad was in the military. They divorced when he was just 2, and both of his parents remarried and had more children with their new spouses. “I was an only child for a while—until I was 13 or 14. I lived with my mom and we moved all over,” spending time in Nevada, Texas, and all over California, Marshall said.
Reflecting on his school years, Marshall said they were easy enough, but he wanted to “get it done. I stopped going to high school my junior year and did online classes. I finished early and got my GED.”
Marshall went to work for a bit, but his Dad convinced him to go into the military, as he had done. “So I went back to high school and actually got my diploma,” he said. “I went into the Marines.”
However, Marshall had struggled with some mental health issues in the past, and wasn’t completely honest about it when he signed up. After an incident during boot camp, he was asked to leave. “I was basically kicked out,” Marshall said, admitting he wasn’t upset about it. His heart was not in it.
He returned to the Los Angeles area. At 21, Marshall had a daughter, who is now 9. He speaks to her mother from time to time. A couple years later, he married another woman and they moved up to northern California. “Things were good, and then her grandparents passed away,” Marshall said. “Her grandfather had Parkinson’s and it was tough. It was a tough time and it made our marriage tough, and we ended up separating. That was hard on me.”
Marshall admits he’s been drinking “pretty heavily” since he was 16 years old. After his separation, the drinking got worse. “The majority of everyone in my family is an alcoholic—pretty much everyone but my mom,” he said. “After the separation, I was drinking all the time. I worked for (a trucking company) so I was used to always being on the road and moving around. So that’s all I was doing for a while— moving around and drinking.”
Last year, Marshall tried to take his life on two occasions. He was put on a psychiatric hold and had to see a judge to be released. “I have a mood disorder, and I had a nervous breakdown,” Marshall said. “I was drinking and I blacked out. The last thing I remember is being strapped down and being placed in a room.”
Because Marshall’s job required him to travel, it was easy for him to hide his addiction and his worsening mental issues from his mom. “I was able to support my habit. We’d see each other every three months or so, and I’d be sure just to not drink that day. So when this happened, it hit her all at once. “She really wanted me to leave LA County, to get out of the area to get help. She found this place.”
Marshall got to the Mission in June. “I’ve never been to a program, I think primarily because of my stubbornness. I was also somewhat functional. But coming here, the transition, it honestly wasn’t that hard. It took a minute, but I knew that this is where I should be.”
Marshall grew up in the church. His mom is a pastor and she still has a ministry. “When I was a kid, I was forced to go (to church), so I kind of rebelled against it. Now, here, it’s different. Also, for example, I read the whole bible when I was young, but it was used as a source of discipline. So now, I’m a lot more comfortable. Everything is changing.”
Marshall also appreciates the role he has at the Mission, helping out at the security station. “One of the things I really wanted was peace of mind,” he said. “Doing security, I’m outside, I have quietness, but I’m also face-to-face with people who need help. It’s rough out there (for those experiencing homelessness). Helping them, serving them, that gets me out of my comfort zone. It’s a constant reminder of where I was.”
Marshall hopes to graduate and then intern at the Mission. He plans to stay connected to the program through volunteerism and communication, and help and serve in any way he can.