Dear Friends in Recovery or On the Verge of Recovery,
I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself and share with you an insight into my past--what it was like, what happened and what it’s like now. My name is Allen and I am the Support Coordinator for Homeless Housing and Assistance Program (HHAP). You are the main reason for my presence here at HHAP. You are qualified for my assistance by being homeless with a mental illness, a possible substance abuse issue and numerous barriers that are interfering with your attempt to regain your rightful place in society.
I was homeless for a period of time which took its toll mentally and physically. Looking back in retrospect with a clear head, I can now see my alcoholism played a huge part in becoming homeless. However, like other alcoholics I didn’t associate the two. At the time, drinking was just my way of coping with my miserable and depressing life. To me, it was a combination of things like family and friends turning their backs on me for whatever reasons—such as telling me my drinking was out of control. They drank just as much. They just didn’t understand me. My situation was different and they were just too stupid to figure it out. Employers let me go just because I called in sick a few times. I was drunk, but I told them I was sick—like others did. Besides, they didn’t know I was hung over. Yes, the employers did, but I didn’t find that out until years later.
I was a First Class Petty Officer Navy veteran of sixteen years with a formal education. I was homeless and without a clue of how or why this had happened to me. All of a sudden, it seemed like I was standing among those homeless street guys waiting outside the Fort Worth Unemployment Office panhandling for a few bucks to buy another bottle of wine. I would see these guys on my way to work every morning and think, “How could anyone let themselves become this way?”
I won’t bore you with the details of what it was like being homeless because I think you already know. I’ll just say I staggered in and out of two Veteran Affairs (VA) alcohol/drug rehabilitation units along with a number of men’s shelters. I have to be honest. They just suited my needs at the time. Not to stop drinking, but because I was homeless, hungry, alone and needed a place to get back on my feet.
Upon being released from the last VA center, no one knew me and I could get a fresh start. Made sense? Well, this geographical change thing is quite common among us alcoholics. To add insult to injury, we find our way of life and our addiction waiting for us wherever we decide to go. Now that is either just a coincidence or bad luck I had been having since GOD had turned His back on me.
My turning point was sometime around the end of May 1997. That would become my moment of hitting bottom, along with my sobriety birthday. I was, from what I can recall, lying in bed totally wasted from drinking 24/7 for the past two months with two men, one who would become my AA sponsor. I was given a choice of either checking into the Serenity House in Abilene, Texas, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center where I was an employee or hitting the road.
Since I’m sitting here writing this letter, I guess I made the right choice. Do you think? I left my employment (They gave me back my job and why—I’ll never know.) and headed for Michigan. Why I did this? I have no idea. They say when GOD (as I understand him) closes one door, He opens another. That is just what He did for me.
Today, I’m happy to say that I am clean and sober for more than eleven years. I have a wonderful, understanding wife and a job that had to have come from the Man up stairs with my name on it, helping others just like me that took the wrong road. You will learn this too in AA. “Every time I help a drunk I will continue to keep this drunk alive and sober.” AA asks only one thing of me in return for their help. That is to give my word that at any time a drunk asks for help, to be there as we were there for you. I owe this day of sobriety to my higher power whom I chose to call GOD, my two AA sponsors and all you recovering alcoholics. One Day At A Time.