Miguel looks forward to the ‘bright, clear days’ after the storm
Miguel grew up in the Antelope Valley. He went to Catholic grade school and graduated from Catholic high school. His parents divorced when he was 2. His mom remarried, but it didn’t last. “My mom mostly raised me,” Miguel said. “She worked though, so I grew up kind of fast. After high school, that’s kind of when my life went for the worse. I’ve been struggling ever since. I feel like I’ve been struggling my whole life.”
Miguel started doing drugs, first marijuana and then methamphetamines. “Now that I look back, I see that I didn’t really know who I was,” he said. “I’m half-Hispanic, half-white, and I have a Hispanic last name. But I didn’t speak Spanish, and couldn’t communicate with my Hispanic side. I felt kind of lost in the middle. I was always trying to find myself. I wanted to feel loved.”
Miguel is an electrician and has worked since he finished high school. “My dad left money for us to go to college, but my mom took it out early, so I had a lot of animosity toward my mom for that,” he said. “My brother is a firefighter and my sister is an RN. I just felt like I was the black sheep.”
When Miguel was 29, he had a child, who is now 13. When he learned he’d be a father, Miguel joined the Navy, but he tested positive for meth. “It stays in your system for a while,” he said. “I was ready to change my life then, and it didn’t work out. Throughout my life, I would get angry at God. When things are going bad, I think, ‘I could’ve had this, I could’ve had that. Instead of fixing the problem, I’d complain about the problem.”
Miguel tried rehabilitation programs, but they were always court-ordered. “It didn’t get me where I wanted to be,” he said. “I did it, but it was because I didn’t want to go to prison. The whole time, I was still using drugs.”
Miguel was on the streets, even though his sister had a home at which he could potentially stay. “I’ve felt rejected my whole life,” he said. “It didn’t seem like anybody wanted me. So I stayed on the streets, surviving on my own. I’ve been homeless pretty much since I was 18, living at rehabs, programs, and for the most part friend’s houses.
“I’ve always believed I have a good heart, but I kept getting knocked down being in the drug world,” he added. “All my friends were drug users, and I started getting in trouble with the law. I was in and out of jail, three months here, three months there. It made everything harder for me—harder to get jobs, harder to get on my feet.”
Miguel’s sister moved to Grover Beach and encouraged him to relocate. “She told me I’d have support here and told me about the mission,” he said. “She knew about it and said she knew they’d help. My family wants to see me get on my feet.
“Right when I talked to Chris (program manager), I felt that God was putting me in this spot. He was so welcoming, and that was everything I was missing in my life, feeling welcome. They made me feel real comfortable here.”
Miguel has been in the program for a few months. “I’m a new creature in Christ,” he said. “Even though I falter, I’ve learned so much. I hit the ground running when I got here. I feel prepared.”
Nearly 2 years ago, Miguel met a woman in a program and she became pregnant. The child was taken at birth, as the mother tested positive for drugs. Miguel’s son is almost 1 year old now, and living with foster parents in San Bernardino County. He’s visited him and is working on getting custody. “I came here with four bags to my name,” he said. “It’s time to start over again, but that’s OK. You gotta go through the storm to get to the bright, clear days, where it’s all washed away.”