My name is Edgar and the Calgary Dream Centre changed my life.
I grew up in Nova Scotia, the oldest of six siblings. My dad served in the Navy and was usually away at sea. Our mother worked, so I ended up raising my younger siblings. When my dad was home my parents fought a lot, but other than that I had a happy childhood with many fond memories—my life was nice before I started drinking.
Then one day in junior high I was told I was old enough and was handed some rum. Oh, that feeling. The warmth. That was the first time I got drunk and I was instantly in love.
When I was 17, I joined the army and started drinking all the time. Back then, the barracks had beer machines instead of pop machines, and it was dirt cheap. As a driver in the army, I drove all sorts of vehicles, but I was always drunk, always fighting, and always in trouble.
When I left the army, I worked for a while. It wasn’t long before I lost my job and started moving from place to place across the country. I worked odd jobs and stayed in shelters.
While the places and the jobs changed, the thread that tied my life together was alcohol. I drank, no matter where I was staying. Eventually, I walked into a liquor store and didn’t have enough money for a drink so I got a bus ticket across the border into the states. Everything was so much cheaper there, so I stayed for 10 years.
When I was sent back to Canada it was the same old story, just bouncing around. I wish I could tell you something else, but that was my life for so many years.
Then one day, a detox worker told me about the Calgary Dream Centre, and when I learned that they could help me, I wanted to know more. I went to the Dream Centre and they welcomed me into their addictions recovery program. I completed the program and found a job. It was an exciting time, but the cravings were too much. I relapsed. They put me through their program twice, but both times I relapsed.
I was stuck in a cycle of addiction, and it filled me with so much shame. But to my surprise, the Dream Centre didn’t give up on me. After my second relapse, I was drinking outside of a shopping centre and my caseworker pulled up in a car, right in front of me…she had come looking for me.
My caseworker convinced me that I should come back to the Dream Centre. When I came back, I had two black eyes, no teeth, and I hadn’t changed or washed in over a month. But no one looked down at me. The staff shook my hand, and no one made fun of me. I could tell people actually cared.
This time, I stayed at the Dream Centre for 13 months, fighting through some of the worst cravings of my life. I don’t know how I made it, but it must have been God watching out for me.
Once I was ready, my caseworker helped me find a home. I spent so many years in different institutions and on the streets—I never had a place of my own. Sometimes, I can’t sleep at night because I’m so grateful to have a home. For the first time, I have too much to lose. All my life, I’ve been starting over, but now I can’t bear to lose everything again. This winter, I have a home, and I honestly never believed that could be possible for me.
I’ve been lost my whole life, just wandering around from one place to another. But when I found the Dream Centre, I found home. I can’t express how thankful I am to the Dream Centre for their help.