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Leonard faces his fears and begins to trust

Mar 1, 2019

Leonard and his older sister were raised by a single father, and the family moved around a lot. Leonard didn’t meet his mother until he was 13. “I was nervous because I had wanted to meet my mom so bad for so long,” Leonard said. “She was the most wonderful person I’d ever met in my life. I wanted more of her. My dad slowly let her be a little more of a part of our lives, but not much. She told me a different story about why she wasn’t around—she said my father had taken us from her. So it was confusing growing up. There were a lot of secrets.”

Leonard suspects his lack of trust came from his dad. “I didn’t really open up to people. Because we moved a lot, learning to trust people was hard. Once I got comfortable in one place, we’d move on. I just started shutting down more.”

Leonard’s dad died during his junior year of high school. “I thought I was grown and was going to do my own thing, but I couldn’t handle it. I went to live with my mom in Texas for a year and then came back. My sister was being the responsible one. I was running around, partying.”

At 19, Leonard was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. He had recently got engaged. “My body just wasn’t working right,” he said. “My joints were really stiff. All the sudden I couldn’t move like I used to, jump as high as I used to—I could barely tie my shoes. It was like the end of the world. I was just about to get married and now suddenly I don’t know what kind of future I was going to have, what kind of career I could have. I was trying to deal with it myself. I wasn’t talking about my feelings or my struggles. That’s what kind of messed me up a little bit, at that young age. I think that contributed to my drug problems.”

Leonard got married and had a daughter, but got divorced seven years later. “I wasn’t ready to be married. I was really immature. As I got older, I started experimenting with drugs. I started trying to be a bad boy, getting in trouble with the law and with drugs. My addiction got way out of control.”

Leonard had two more daughters with a girlfriend, but at 3 and 4, they were taken away by Child Protective Services. They’ve since been adopted. “The last few years have been a lot of drugs, a lot of partying—just not being responsible. I was just staying with different friends, not working much. I got into the drug world, selling. That’s how I survived.”

Since entering the program, Leonard said he’s had to face his fears. “I’m 42 years old and I haven’t really done anything in my life that’s positive,” Leonard said. “I never applied myself and let fear kick in. With the arthritis, fear kicked in, not graduating high school, fear. And now, I’m facing the fear.”

His relationship with God has also strengthened. “I’ve always had a personal relationship with God,” Leonard said. “I knew him, and I pretty much have talked to him every day since I was young. I know I wouldn’t be alive still if it weren’t for God. I’m at this point in my life, getting help, because of him.”

So far, he’s taking it day by day. “It’s not going to be easy, but I can tell I’m in the right spot,” he said. “I can tell the way the staff is working with me. It kind of moves me a little bit because I don’t trust often, but they don’t judge me and they care about my well-being. It’s powerful. It makes me emotional right now just talking about it.”

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