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David warns against being too prideful to ask for help


David grew up “basically with a single mom,” although he also had a stepfather for some of his childhood. He was smart, but avoided showing it at school. “I didn’t want to look uncool,” he said, “so instead of being the smart kid, I was more of a bully. Because of the problems going on at home, I hid that.”

David’s stepfather was abusive toward his mom, although he occasionally got caught in the crosshairs when he tried to protect his mother.

David decided to drop out of school in 11th grade in order to focus on work. “Just because of not having much (money) with my mom, I knew I needed to depend on myself and get my own things.” He worked at the front desk of an aquatic center for three years, and then began working at restaurants.

David started drinking when he was 7, but said it got really bad at 21 when he could buy alcohol himself. After going to the hospital nine or ten times in two months, David decided to get help. “I was in and out of the hospital,” he said. “I wouldn’t even remember getting there, just waking up. The nurses would tell me I was hardly breathing, and my chest would be sore from so many compressions—they were trying to keep me alive. It was scary, and it made no sense why I kept doing it.

“After praying so much, and God giving me the strength to get through withdrawals, I got help. The nurses at the hospital helped me. One even knew someone who came in and counseled me. Finally, I reached out to Luke (program manager) here at the Mission.”

David had already successfully completed the Life Recovery Program at one of our sister missions in Oxnard. “I went there in 2015 and I felt like, in my head, I was in a house full of crazy people,” he said. “I was just judging everyone. After a while, a chaplain pulled me in and talked to me. I realized I wanted to be there, it was just (an environment) I wasn’t used to. They made me feel comfortable and I started feeling like part of the family.”

But when David returned to his hometown of Santa Maria, he was unprepared. “I went back without thinking about it, without praying about it,” he said. “I thought I had it all under control. My son was here, and that was a big part of it. I got a job at a restaurant and there was alcohol all around. I had one beer, thinking it wouldn’t be harmful, and I just kept going.”

David ended up losing that job and wound up on the streets for two months. He tried another program before coming to the Mission on Dec. 1. “I’m just trying to keep my focus,” he said. “It’s not fair to my son to not have me in his life, just because I want to put alcohol before him. That’s not what he deserves. I don’t want him to go through that, what I went through with my dad. I don’t want him to have that type of childhood.”

When David was on the streets and drinking, he asked his now 4-year-old son’s mother not to let him be around child. “I knew it wasn’t fair,” he said. “Now that I’m not drinking, she’s more welcoming to me and open to letting me see him.”

David, now 31, has been challenged in his counseling sessions to open up more, as he is often anxious that he’ll be judged. He’s really enjoyed praying and fellowshipping with the other guys in the program, and it’s especially fulfilling, he said, to take part in some of the community outreaches the Mission helps with.

David was raised Catholic and his grandfather was a pastor. “He would introduce me to Scripture and ask me about it,” he said. “(Faith) was always around me, but I never really grabbed onto it. I received it, I heard it, but at the same time, I didn’t know if it was for me. But, in the back of my head, I always knew. I knew God was real somehow. I just needed more.”

David encouraged anyone considering the program to come in with an open heart. “You have to submit—that’s the main thing. To get help, you have to be willing to submit. Most people are too prideful to do that. But pride can kill you.”

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