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How to Be a Good DadMatthew's Story

My name is Matthew, and thanks to the Calgary Dream Centre, I am finally living the life I was meant to. It hasn’t been an easy journey and today I want to share my recovery story with you.

My parents got a divorce when I was 12. My father travelled for work and my mother wasn’t around much, so I ended up being pretty unsupervised. I started hanging out with the wrong crowd and was skipping school and staying out late.

At just 13, I had my first drink and it was like I’d found my calling. It’s terrible to put it that way but it felt a lot like that. I dropped out of high school at 16 years old and started working. Every weekend I just hung around, smoking and drinking with my friends.

When I was 18, my father passed away, so I moved to Calgary to live closer to my sister. My girlfriend and I got married, started our life together, and had one amazing son. For the next 25 years, I worked in the oil patch. For the most part, we had a good life, but alcohol was always part of the picture. I worked hard and played hard. That’s just the way it was, and I never thought it should be any different.

But then somewhere I crossed the line. I don’t exactly know when it happened, but it was like nothing mattered anymore except alcohol. Work didn’t matter, family didn’t matter, nothing mattered. The good life I had been holding together started to unravel. I would lie, beg, steal, cheat, and do whatever I needed to do. In my addiction, I didn’t care about anybody except myself and the alcohol.

I went to treatment a few times but I always relapsed. I was even connected with the Dream Centre, but I didn’t want to take advantage of their recovery program and eventually lost control again.

As I continued to spiral, I ended up homeless, bouncing around from shelter to shelter, roaming the streets during the day. I was just out there surviving. I didn’t know if I would ever climb out of the rut I was in. This was the lowest point in my life and it lasted for a few months.

One day, I woke up and I knew I couldn’t continue to live like this. I had to find a way to turn things around.

I walked into the Dream Centre with my little knapsack containing two changes of clothes. My old case manager sat down with me and encouraged me to come back, but this time, to dedicate myself fully to the recovery program. In that moment, I knew this was it—my chance to rebuild the life that I’d lost to addiction.

The recovery program was where it all started to hit home for me. The counsellors helped me understand myself and my addiction, and I started to build real relationships and connections with others in the program.

I also attended a class called “How to be a Good Dad” and it taught me so much. Shortly after graduation, I went for a walk with my son. I was able to open up and tell him my story. It was an emotional time and brought a lot of healing.

That conversation did something special and we are now closer than ever. We swim together. We go to the gym together. I go to his house and we have brunch and hang out every Sunday. We talk almost every day on the phone or text. You know, I just cherish every moment I get to spend with him.

Everything’s falling into place. I’m 58 years old and I feel like I’m finally really living. I’m reunited with my family, I have a job that I love, and I wake up every day with a smile on my face. I can’t say enough about all the blessings I have in my life today.

The Dream Centre is a wonderful place. There is something about it… I can’t fully explain my gratitude in words… but I am blessed. I am truly blessed.

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