After 30 years of drinking, Matt is ready to call it quits for good

Matt is nearly five months into the program.

Matt is nearly five months into the program.

He said he’s in recovery ‘for the long haul’

Matt was born and raised by his father on the Central Coast. His mom was in prison and then in and out of his life for years. After a custody hearing, it was determined that Matt would live with his father, and Matt’s sister would live with their maternal grandmother. “It was kind of rough growing up without a sister—knowing I had one but growing up without her in my life all the time,” he said.

Matt started smoking marijuana in fourth grade. “It wasn’t something I really wanted to do—I was just experimenting,” he said. My Dad worked a lot and wasn’t around.”

Matt started rebelling more. After a serious motorcycle accident left him severely injured, he couldn’t attend class and failed out. He ended up getting his GED, and working for years running heavy equipment.

Matt got married and had kids, and shortly after, started drinking and smoking weed. He became mean and abusive, which led to divorce. Matt remarried, and the couple had five kids between them. “It was tough having four teenagers and so many girls going to high school at the same time, but I wouldn’t give that up for the world,” he said.

“I got arrested once at a football game, and showed up drunk to graduation. Eventually the judge said ‘One more, and you’re doing time.’” Matt made the decision to get clean and stayed sober for six years.

But after relapsing, Matt’s trouble with the law increased. He started getting DUIs, which led to losing his job. “That’s when I decided I needed help, because I was going to be homeless on the streets,” he said. “I’ve always worked my tail off to not be on the streets. I was heartbroken too because I had hurt my friends and family.”

A work friend told Matt about the Mission. They reached out and said they had a bed for me and I started crying immediately.

“I’m here for the long haul, and I’m not going to leave here or go out and get drunk. I’m 50 years old and have been doing this for 30 years now. It’s been such a struggle. I’m done.”

Matt said he was nervous when he first arrived at the Mission. “But one of the guys took me under his wing and showed me the ropes,” he said. “It made everything seem a little easier. I love this place now. I’ve never been a man of God or gone to church, but this place is changing me.”

Attending a graduation last month was powerful for Matt. “That was the best experience I’ve ever had,” he said. “To see all those people around (celebrating and worshipping) ... I felt so warm when I left there. I came home happy, and I haven’t been happy in a long time. This place is doing something to me. I know I still have a long way to go.”

Matt’s main goal is to reconcile with his children. “I wasn’t the best father,” he said. “I wasn’t there when I should’ve been. And when I was, I was showing up drunk to graduation. Or getting arrested during football games. I was doing stuff like that. I need to make it better, and I’m going to give this program everything I have.”