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For My DaughterJoel's Story

I’m finally living my dream of being a good father, but at one point I didn’t think that would be possible. 

Until I moved in with my dad at age eight, I grew up in a really abusive home. There was a lot of drugs. A lot of alcohol. We also moved a lot so I never spent more than six months in a school. 

Because of that, I became a pretty violent kid. If you looked at me wrong in high school it would be a street fight for sure. I got into a lot of trouble and had a lot of anger. It all links back to the abuse in my childhood.

All I can say about that time is it was a blur. A lot of in and out of jail. A lot of messed up relationships. A lot of blacked out nights. Sleeping on the streets, sleeping in shelters. When it was nice out I’d pass out on a park bench or take my sleeping bag to the park by my house. There was a liquor store across the street so when it was open I was there. 

Thankfully, my life started to shift when I had my daughter almost five years ago 5. I was now a dad. My little princess was the world. She is such a beautiful little girl.

Sadly, my addiction clung on. When she was two she was apprehended. I worked to get her back and within a year was allowed to spend some nights with me. I was making progress, but then I relapsed. I had lost her again.

When they took my daughter the second time it hurt. My world crumbled watching her leave. I started thinking maybe everyone else isn’t the problem. Maybe it’s me. 

I was finally ready to change, so I started calling around and found the Dream Centre. I applied for the Men’s Recovery program, and I took it seriously. 

The first time walking in was scary. Thankfully the people there were warm and welcoming which made it comfortable fast. You become kind of like a little family. You can talk to whoever. Everyone is willing to help you or talk with you at least. 

A lot of stuff they taught me should have been taught as I was growing up. Deep breathing, how to keep calm – I never got taught anything like that. My whole childhood was violent, and I didn’t know these basics. I listened and I took it all in. I wanted to be there and I knew I had to.

I graduated on August 8, 2018 which means I’m over a year sober. This place works but you gotta want it. In my eyes, the Dream Centre saved my life.

I was grumpy. Quick to trigger. You’d say something to me and I’d snap. I was always miserable. I didn’t care if you threw me in jail. I didn’t care. I didn’t have two dimes to my pocket. The power got shut off in my house one day because we couldn’t afford to pay the power bill. I could afford to feed my addiction but I couldn’t afford to eat. 

But now I’m happy. I’m really, really happy. I’ve got money in the bank, I have a vehicle, rent is paid, bills are paid, I wake up and I can function. My bosses are happy with me. I’m looking at buying a house right now. I’m going to go back to school. 

But most importantly, my daughter is back in my life. 

If I’m having a bad day, when I pick her up from daycare and give her a great big hug, it goes away. She just makes me so happy. Watching her grow, watching her learn. It’s just, there is no feeling like it. That’s my child. 

This summer we were learning how to ride a bike. We go for lots of walks, movies. I do everything with her. 

I never thought any of this would happen. It’s just slowly all coming together. Your Dreams absolutely do come true. I couldn’t be happier. I can finally be a good parent my daughter deserves. There is a purpose to me breathing right now.

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