The Party that Never Stopped
Growing up with ten older siblings, Joseph had plenty of people to learn from. Unfortunately, one of his earliest lessons was how to drink. By high school, he had been drinking and smoking marijuana for several years.
Even so, Joseph says he had a “pretty normal” life, hanging out with the “cool kids” and playing sports in school. At home, he spent time with his dad learning how to repair things around the house or on the car.
One thing Joseph couldn’t repair was his addiction. Joseph dropped out of high school and watched many of his classmates go on to college. Without a diploma, Joseph’s options were limited. He found a job in a warehouse, but the party never stopped.
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A Downward Spiral
“It got to the point where I was waking up the next day, not knowing how I got home,” Joseph admits. He knew he had to stop drinking. However, after suffering several herniated discs in his back from warehouse work, Joseph simply replaced alcohol with prescription pain killers.For years, Joseph was a “functioning addict.”
Struggling with his addiction, he moved back home to care for his ailing parents. “I literally watched my dad die over the next five years,” he tells us. “He was my best friend. When he passed away, I went into a downward spiral.”Taught from childhood to keep his feelings to himself, Joseph turned to heroin and crack to relieve his grief. He was soon unemployed and homeless. He was staying with a friend when he was arrested for drug possession and served eight weeks in jail. Upon his release, he was allowed to serve out his probation at The City Mission.
Learning to be Vulnerable
Here in our Crossroads Men’s Crisis Center, Joseph’s real learning began. “The program is phenomenal,” he says. “Christianity 101 introduced me to the Bible. Anger Management and Dialectical Behavior Theory let you be aware of your thinking and that you can change it.” Most of all, Joseph learned how to share his feelings. “I felt embarrassed at first,” he admits, “but when you build fellowship with people, you allow yourself to be vulnerable around them.”
That includes Joseph’s 19-year-old daughter. “I found out about her when she was eight years old and I was in my active addiction. I didn’t know how to be a dad.” Joseph reached out to her through Facebook and they are now working on their relationship by phone.
Joseph just completed the Crossroads program and his GED. He hopes to find work that won’t aggravate his back injuries. “God won’t let me down,” he says. Neither did you. Thank you for helping Joseph and so many others learn to be the men God intended.
“God won’t let me down.” Neither did you. Joseph found an outlet for his emotions through poetry. Here is an excerpt from his poem “Side Effects,” written in January.
Forty years have passed me by,
My heart wouldn’t let me cry.
Lessons learned, I thought,
Battles battled, I fought.
Trying to fill the void inside,
All this time not dealing with my pride.
For the first time, in my life, I’m free.
Imprisoned no more, I can see.
Given all the tools I need,
My heart will no longer bleed.
All those drugs over the years,
From not facing my fears.
Lessons taught, strive to be better.
Battles fought, alive not bitter!