After consistent loss, he learns how to cope without using
Marlon was raised by a single mom in Oxnard. His mom worked hard to provide for him and his five siblings. “I had an OK childhood,” Marlon shared. “It was hard being in the middle of five brothers. We struggled a lot, but my mom worked hard to provide for us.”
Marlon’s childhood home was not in the safest of neighborhoods. There was a park close to his home where he was expected to look after his two younger brothers “I was at the park a lot,” he said. “It was the only place to really be. Our neighborhood was drug-infested and had gang violence. I first noticed drugs and violence at the park when I was around 7 or 8.
“I first drank at 14, but only here and there,” he added. Being involved in sports and focusing on school kept Marlon away from the gangs. “I have good high school memories. I was a scholar-athlete and was looking at D1 schools for basketball.” However, that changed once Marlon graduated.
After high school, Marlon stopped playing basketball, and “the drinking and partying started.” He knew family members that were part of the local gangs and was looking for a place to belong. “The gang gave me a sense of protection and respect,” he said. This lifestyle went on for many years and eventually, Marlon started selling drugs.
At 26, Marlon joined the Navy. “I wanted a change,” he said. “The drinking slowed down while in the military, but after I left the Navy the drinking just got more and more.”
Marlon had friends that would tell him about God and got him involved in a rehab home. At 29 years old, Marlon left the gang lifestyle and drinking behind. Over the next 12 years, Marlon remained sober. He got married and served at the rehab home. He shared his story about God, his sobriety, and being in a gang.
Unfortunately, Marlon’s marriage ended in divorce and this caused him to return to his old habits. “After the divorce, I relapsed and started doing the same thing again,” he said. “I got back into the gang, drinking, and smoking weed.”
Over the next six years, Marlon was in and out of sobriety and jumping from one job to another. “I would depend on drinking to numb the pain of loss,” Marlon said. “After the death of my brother, my uncle, and my ex-girlfriend, I just couldn’t take it anymore.” The waves of grief following one death after another sent Marlon into depression and deep drinking for a solid year.
Marlon had heard about the Mission. “God used a friend to pull me back in and asked if I would get restored,” said Marlon, who decided to join the Life Recovery Program at the Mission. The program has helped Marlon focus on his relationship with God. “I knew I wanted to be clean and be reconciled with Christ, and being here has given me time to study the Bible.” He gives credit to the Mission for not rushing him and for giving him the freedom to find out who he is in Christ.
The program’s focus on restoration has made a difference in Marlon’s recovery. “I really feel like I am rehabbing myself both mentally and spiritually,” Marlon said. “The program has changed my mindset that I can still be sober even though I have been hurt through tragedy and loss.”
Marlon looks forward to graduation at the end of the month. He knows there will be hard times ahead, but is prepared to face those days with the encouragement he has found at the Mission. “I know the alcohol will always be there,” Marlon said, “but I plan to keep staying active in my church, accountable to my peers and the people of God I’ve met here.”