I grew up in a single-parent home. My Mom worked hard to raise my two older siblings and I. My childhood was hard, and I experienced all kinds of abuse from a close family member. I didn’t realize how that impacted me until later in life.
I had battled addiction before but had been clean for 10 years until I split with my ex wife and was unable to see my kids. That was the beginning of a devastating time for me, as two weeks later, my Mom passed away.
I didn’t know how to deal with the loss of both the women I loved most in this world. I went back hard into my addiction. Eventually, it cost me my job, and everything went downhill from there. I bounced between jail and homelessness, and hunger.
I felt helpless, and completely hopeless for the future. I was lacking in proper nutrition. I was lucky if I ate a meal every few days. The longest I went without eating was five days.
A lifestyle of crime fueled my addiction. When I looked at my first mug shot, I saw the angriest person looking back at me. I didn’t believe it was me, between the weight loss and the difference in complexion, I didn’t look like myself.
Holidays felt depressing and lonely. I remember the first holiday meal I had since my life fell apart was in jail. Despite there being food to eat, the day felt hollow. Missing my family during the holiday season was one of the hardest things I had to deal with.
It was hard after I was released the first time I was incarcerated, because I had no home to go to. I ended up homeless. Finding safe places to sleep was difficult, and even when I did find something, I could never fully rest.
My turning point came after I had an infection from injecting myself with remnants of drugs I found and ended up in the ICU. A case manager from the Calgary Dream Centre (CDC) came to visit me a few days in a row. He talked to me about the services the CDC offered and asked if I would be willing to go. I wasn’t sure, but eventually once my health improved, I agreed. I went straight from the hospital to the CDC.
Walking through the Dream Centre doors, took all my uncertainty and doubt away. I remember a feeling of warmth coming over me, as the staff treated me with kindness and care. They made me feel comfortable.
I couldn’t believe my first meal here, the environment was inviting and full of joy. There was a whole line of food we could pick for ourselves, including salads and desserts, and a chance to have seconds if we were still hungry.
I didn’t know what to expect from the Recovery Program. I had never done treatment before. I wanted the change, but I didn’t know how to do it. What helped me the most, is what we call the brotherhood here. The friendships, and bonds with other members of the program that starts from day one as you journey towards recovery together, are priceless.
The CDC has given me everything I need to build a future that I couldn’t while in addiction. I now have my family back in my life, I’m a full time student in college and I get to use my experience to help others as a Recovery Support Worker (RSW) here at the CDC.
I would like to encourage others in my shoes to allow yourself to make the best decision of your life, and come to the Calgary Dream Centre. We have above standard case management here, and if you can be open and honest with them, this place can help you become the healthiest and happiest person you can be.