Tom’s story, which he reflected on recently more than seven years after graduating the Mission’s Life Recovery Program, is one of redemption and restoration. After addiction destroyed his family—he had a good life with wife, Carrie, and their children—Tom spent years in and out of jail.
After the couple divorced in 1998, Carrie was in another relationship and had a daughter. She later married someone else and moved to Oklahoma for eight years. “Tom was always in the background,” she said. “He never let me get too far.”
Carrie had her own stint with the law at one point and served a four-and-a-half-year sentence. “While I was locked up, I worked on myself,” she said. “I got my GED and took a few college classes. I used to (smoke marijuana) but have been clean since 2009.”
During Carrie’s time in jail, Tom got deeper into his addiction. “I did so much drugs I couldn’t feel anything or care about anything,” he said. “I was rude, I was mean, and I was evil. It wasn’t pretty. There was a lot of running from the cops and looking over my shoulder at all times. There were a lot of trips in and out of prison.
“When I got arrested the last time, Carrie was already in prison. The judge gave me seven years and I really didn’t even care. But then I thought about my kids. I (realized) that they would be adults when I got out. It had already been a decade since I had seen them.”
When Tom was released, the couple started building a friendship. Carrie dated other men at first, but she started considering her life back with Tom. He had gotten clean in prison and had entered the Mission’s Life Recovery Program.
“I noticed Tom really working on himself while in the program,” Carrie said. “All the things I was lacking: love, trust … anything that was negative, that program had a positive for me,” Tom added. “That faith, knowing someone is in control above you, that God’s got you. That’s what I got from the program. It saved my life.”
Tom graduated the program and got a job at the rock mines. “He would come visit and take me and the kids out to dinner. For the first time, he was stable. He really proved himself,” Carrie said.
Tom spoke about the staff at the Mission and how they lead “from their hearts and out of love. They teach you how to live life as a member of society. I never knew how to live a normal life. I was a convict and drug addict. I knew that what I felt for Carrie was true love. I just didn’t know how to show it and act on it.”
Carrie said she fell back in love with Tom in 2016. “We took the kids to SeaWorld and out to dinner,” she said. “We spent the whole evening together talking and laughing and I just knew then I could give this relationship another shot. I had watched him from afar. In that year I saw him trade bad habits for good ones.”
In 2017, Carrie got a new job with a bus transportation company, which required her to move. “I decided to move in with Tom and his parents” she said. “He proved that he could help me and not hinder me.”
Tom worked at the rock mines for a few years and now works at a building materials company. “He started at the bottom and he is now a lab tech,” Carrie said. “His job is to test cement. He had to take a test to get the job and he scored really high—he is really good at math. He has never taken no for answer.”
The couple lived with Tom’s parents for two-and-a-half years, saving enough to buy a home in early 2020. A few months later, Tom and Carrie remarried September 26, 2020. “I’ve had my entire life restored to where it was,” Tom said. “The Lord gave it all back to me. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
The couple has worked hard to rebuild their lives. They both have new cars and are able to pay their bills and grow their savings accounts. They’ve worked out their schedules so they both have Wednesdays and Thursdays off together.
And there’s another achievement that Carrie is proud to share: Tom is celebrating 10 years sober this year. For Tom, that means being more present for his family. “My favorite part about being sober is being grandparents,” said Tom, referring to their granddaughters Ariel, 3, and Alonna, 3 months. “Just to be able to be part of their lives … It’s nice to know that our kids can depend on us.”
Tom said he’s looking forward to retirement. The couple plans to move to Bullhead City, Ariz. to be closer to their granddaughters.