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AFTER DRAINING CUSTODY BATTLE, JOHN WANTS TO LEAVE DRINKING BEHIND
John was a talented athlete at his Apple Valley High School, but sports took a backseat after he had a child his senior year. He got two jobs right away, holding an internship at Edison and a part-time gig at Taco Bell. After graduation, he got a job working full time as a cable lineman. “I ended up splitting with my daughter’s mom,” he said. “I was working too much and we were too young,” he said. “She ventured out. And, of course, it tore me apart.”
A couple years later, John met someone else and had three more children. They were together from 2003 to 2019. “My drinking problem got worse and I was going through a custody battle with my first daughter,” he said. “I shouldn’t blame it on that, but it was depressing.”
John had been fighting to see his first daughter for 12 years. “Mentally and emotionally, it took a toll on me,” he said. “I ended up getting two DUIs. The last one was in 2009. I ended up running from cops. It was bad. I went to jail, paid my dues and quit drinking. I said enough is enough.”
John quit drinking and, after another couple years of battling for custody, he decided to back off. “It was brutal,” he said. “It started affecting my other kids. In 2013, it was Father’s Day, and my daughter was 13. She told me she didn’t want to come over. At that point we were 11 years into the custody battle. I had been sober for two years and had a clear mind. I told her, ‘I can’t force you to come over.’ I ended the custody battle right there. I felt I made the right decision. I had no fight left in me. I was emotionally drained and it was affecting my family. To this day, I still haven’t talked to my daughter. She’s 21.”
John had a good job and started traveling more for work. “I thought I was doing the right thing by having every ‘thing.’ But I was never home. And then I started drinking again in 2017. I came home from a trip and had this feeling that this was the beginning of the end. I really tore this last family apart. I lost my family and sat inside the bottle for the last three-and-a-half years.”
John lost his job, home, car— everything. He became homeless and has been staying “all over the place” for the last year and a half. When he was able to see his younger kids, now 16, 13 and 6, he met them at a park or at one of his siblings’ home. He’s stayed in a trailer, and then a tent. He worked just enough to pay for his addiction. “I was literally drinking myself to death. I was killing myself. I knew I was going to die from drinking, but at least I could say I didn’t commit suicide.”
In 2020, John went to a program. “I was miserable,” he said. “They didn’t treat patients with any respect or dignity. I walked out. But I knew I needed help. I was tired, and I didn’t want to die. I didn’t want my kids to see me die. I didn’t want someone to find me dead, because I knew it would probably be one of my friends or family members. That was my worst fear.”
“A friend of mine found (the Mission) and he said, ‘Give it one more shot, John.’ Something clicked in me.”
John arrived Nov. 16, and he remembers a poignant moment. “I hadn’t showered in over a month,” he said. “I remember looking in the mirror—it was so embarrassing. I said through tears, ‘I can’t believe I let myself get this bad.’
“Now I know why my friends and my mom and dad and brothers and sisters were so worried,” John added, getting emotional. “I just couldn’t see it. My kids, they all saw it. And for the first time, in that mirror, I did too.”
John said he thought the program would feel like a “rollercoaster ride,” but it wasn’t. Everyone is great—I literally have nothing bad to say. The program has brought me closer to God than I’ve ever been. I know this is where I need to be. I’m happy I’m here.”
John likes the devotion time in the morning, as well as outreach programs.
“Everything I’ve tried to do to stop this hasn’t worked,” John added. I’m dealing with the wreckage I’ve caused. That’s why I drank, because I didn’t want to face my issues. Now I’m facing them and I don’t want to drink.”