Growing up with strict parents led Jose to push the limits as a kid, and it only continued as he got older. “I used school as an escape, a reason to do whatever I wanted,” he said. “In high school, I started skipping more and more. I remember once my mom caught me and walked me to the school office. They told her I hadn’t been in school for so long, I was no longer enrolled. I gave my parents a lot of headaches. They were constantly picking me up from the police station. They were both working, and I took advantage of that.
“I thought I was having fun, but I was really just digging myself into a hole of bad habits and a bad lifestyle. That’s when my drug addiction really kicked off.”
Jose started smoking marijuana in sixth grade, and moved onto meth and cocaine in ninth grade. He said he got his act together for a bit when he found out he was going to be a father. “My son was born 20 days before I turned 16,” he said. “That same year, one of my best friends was shot and died. It was tough. I just thought, ‘I have a child now. I don’t want to end of dead.’ I was home schooling, I had a part-time job. I tried so much harder. But eventually, I went back to normal school, and got back into old habits.”
A few years later, Jose got into a new relationship and had a daughter, now 10. The couple got married and went on to have five children. “We had a lot of relationship problems, and it really made me drown myself in negative habits,” Jose said. “I was verbally abusive. The police were called. Eventually CPS got involved. I ended up alone without my family.”
Jose’s parents currently have his five children. His rights were terminated, but he is appealing the decision. “My parents were done raising kids and now they are raising my children,” he said. “They are loving, supportive, and they are still there for me. It’s a blessing to still be able to call my mom and dad and tell them what’s going on, and they do whatever they can to support me.”
Jose was recently facing charges, and although they were all dropped, and he was only dealing with a violation, he asked for a drug program. “I knew if I wasn’t ordered, I wouldn’t go,” he said. “I kept asking myself, ‘If I can do it on my own, why haven’t I?’ My life was spiraling out of control.”
Jose said he entered the Mission to find “a safe environment to recover from my lifestyle. It’s like I was crawling, and now I’m learning to walk, and little by little, I’m making my way back into the world. And I have some freedom to mess up here. I’m growing, and if I stumble along the way, I’ll have the help to steer me in the right direction.”
Jose recently had his first visit with his kids since Thanksgiving. “I was really happy and overwhelmed with emotion. Everyone here showed so much love to my kids. They are willing to do everything possible to make sure I see them.
“I knew that being in the program, I’d have a better chance of reuniting with them and being able to care for them. My oldest daughter has expressed the fact that she wants us to live together again and she misses me. When she was visiting, I was giving her a piggy-back ride, and she whispered in my ear that she wished that it could last forever.”
Jose said he’s been overwhelmed by what the program has done for him. “It was beyond my expectations, everything I have found here,” he said. “It has built my character and humbled me. It’s made me realize that I only have the illusion of control—only God is in control. The support and trust that I’ve built with the staff here—they have so much to offer that I desperately need. I know myself better. I know God better.
“I’m just glad that there is a place like this. I feel so blessed. God is so big and so powerful, and nothing is done by mistake. I have to trust that plan. I was lost and they are helping me to find myself in Christ.”