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Chuck owns his ‘bad choices,’ focuses on spiritual growth

Oct 6, 2020

When Chuck reflects on his upbringing in Santa Maria, he has nothing but positive things to say. The decisions he made are on him. “I grew up in a good family and had a good childhood,” he said. “I had every opportunity afforded to kids—I just made some bad choices.”

Chuck start drinking in high school. He didn’t graduate and went to work in the oil fields. And while he was what he called “a violent drunk,” he didn’t get in trouble with the law until he was 34. “I was a late bloomer in that way,” Chuck said. “It was after my mom died. I don’t think I ever got in trouble when I was sober, that’s for sure. I liked to fight when I got drunk. I ended up in prison because of that.”

Chuck has a 31-year-old son. “He’s the light of my life,” Chuck said. “I have grandkids now too. They moved to Wyoming a year ago. I had just gotten out of jail and it was about 30 days until they were going to move. I was in prison a lot. My son told me they didn’t want me coming around anymore. It just crushed me.”

Chuck, now 58, was facing life without his son and his family. “I knew I had a problem for years,” he said. “But it was what happened with my son that made me really want to get serious about it. I got myself into detox first, and I haven’t looked back since. I got close to God through AA first. My sponsor, Robert, was a graduate of the Rescue Mission, so he told me about this place. “I had been in and out of AA. I was clean, but I knew I needed to stay clean. … This program was different. They were willing to help me with my GED, and help me out with other things.”

When Chuck got to the Mission, he had to quit smoking cold turkey, which was “a pain,” he said, but he did it. He’s enjoyed volunteering at the thrift store every day, as he has a strong work ethic. “The people I’m here with are good,” he said. “The faith, the devotions, the classes—it’s so helpful. There are a lot of self-help aspects, and it’s helpful seeing what everyone else is going through too.”

Chuck has gotten plugged into a local church, Cornerstone, and is considering trying to get a job as a house manager at a sober living facility. “I’m clean and sober now, and have been since last October,” he said. “I want to give guidance to other guys who want to do the same thing. And maybe, when I reach retirement age, depending on if they stay in Wyoming, maybe I go out there and join (my son and his family). God willing, everything is going to work out. I have faith that that’s going to be the case.”

The biggest change has been in Chuck’s relationship with God. “I went to church as a child with my grandparents, but I never really had any use for God unless I was in trouble,” he said. “It was always ‘God, get me out of this.’ Of course I realize now he’s always there for us, but it helps if we’re living right. … I wake up praying now. I actually get something out of services each week. God is a big part of my life now.”

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