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‘Life is more beautiful this side of recovery’

Javier has left drugs and gangs behind.

Javier has left drugs and gangs behind.

A year of sobriety brings peace

“I grew up thinking I wasn’t really part of my family,” Javier said, when asked about his childhood. “I didn’t think my stepdad loved me, because I wasn’t his, but my siblings were. I felt like I didn’t belong.”

By 13, Javier was using drugs. By 17, Javier was a gang member. “I was hurt and angry at my stepdad, my family, at everyone. I was looking for somewhere to belong,” Javier shared. At 18, Javier had his first child, quickly having two more children. “I was a young father. I was a kid having a kid. I didn’t know what to do, I never had a relationship with my dad. Instead, I became more active in drugs; I went to jail more often.”

Javier remembers the day he walked out on his family. “There were so many arguments about my addiction. I blamed my ex-wife, my family, anyone else but myself. I abandoned my family. I took advantage of my family – of my mom, my sisters, everyone.

In my addiction, I thought, ‘I’m not the problem, it’s them.’ I was selfish back then,” recalled Javier.

After nearly 30 years of drugs, jail, gangs, homelessness, and “selfishness,” Javier had become hopeless. “I didn’t have my kids, I didn’t have my family, I had nothing,” he said. On September 10th, 2023, Javier attempted to kill himself, twice. “I jumped in front of a car. I was hit and injured, but I was high, and I didn’t feel anything. So, I got up and limped in front of an 18-wheeler. It stopped right before hitting me. I remember being angry at God for not letting me die.”

After his release from the hospital, Javier met Oscar Corral (program manager) while Oscar was working for another nonprofit. Javier connected with Oscar after hearing Oscar’s testimony and joined their recovery program. A few months later, Oscar came to Renewed Hope. “At first, I felt abandoned,” Javier shared. “I didn’t have the connection with the other staff like I had with Oscar. We still talked on the phone, so when I found out he was at the Mission, it was about making sure it was the right move for me.”

After three months of speaking with Oscar and praying, Javier made the switch. “I was so fearful of reverting back to the old me. I was afraid that I wouldn’t have the guidance or tools to stay sober if I graduated from that program. My family, especially my sons, are in my life now. I couldn’t lose that.

“Here, there’s a concrete foundation, which I needed. There’s so many different tools and classes, like the Genesis Process. It makes you uncomfortable, but it gives you a chance to learn about yourself. It’s scary but the case managers here help guide you through it.”

Javier is overjoyed to be reconnecting with his family. “In my addiction, I was so angry at everyone, so selfish, I didn’t realize they were protecting themselves and my kids. But I started listening to God, learning about God, praying to God.

“God opened the door to reconnect with my family. I’m taking responsibility now. I expected rejection, but I got acceptance. I’m still making amends. Little by little, I gain trust back,” Javier said.

Javier has been clean for nearly one year, the longest he’s been sober since he was 13. After graduation, Javier wants to become a case manager. He’s working on reconciling with family, and “shedding his old life,” even beginning the process to remove his old gang tattoos.

“Life is more beautiful this side of recovery,” Javier

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