I emancipated myself from a group home when I was 17.5, got my own place. Two months later, I finished high school. I was working at a car wash, didn’t really know what I was doing with my life. And then I was introduced to meth. It always starts out fun. Then it ends up being fun with consequences. And then it’s all just consequences. I went from fun to consequences in a few months. I was in and out of jail, just living that life: hustling, selling, living on the street, sleeping on couches, moving from city to city — Turlock, Merced, Modesto — just bouncing around all over the place, going where the money was.
Every time meth came across my path, everything just went downhill. I always knew I shouldn’t do it, but the addiction is so powerful. Wanting to do it is like an itch that you can’t scratch. You know it’s not good and you try to stay away from it, but you can’t. It really takes control of you until you go out and do it.
In 2017, I was in San Mateo, Redwood City County jail. The whole time I was in there, I was like, I have nowhere to go when I get out. I can’t go back to my granny’s house, my momma’s house, nothing like that. Those are my last resorts and I can’t even go there, so what am I going to do? I kept hearing everybody say, if you’re really interested in recovery, Father Alfred Center is the place to go. So that’s where I went.
Once I got there, it just felt right. Everybody was real nice. They’d be like, you’re in the right place, or hang on to your seat — little things that made me feel real comfortable. It was very strict at the time, but it was what I needed — that structure, that no tolerance type of thing. That really kept me on my Ps and Qs.<>
Now I work as an employment specialist for St. Anthony’s Community Safety Services. I’ve built so many relationships here with our guests. I can’t go to Hayward without running into someone from here. They’re happy when they see me — they feel safe. They know if anything happens, I’ll jump in to help. I’m not going to run off. It’s not about me, it’s about these people here. Because I’ve been in their shoes. I’ve slept in park bathrooms in the middle of December when it’s raining and cold and 32 degrees. Seeing all this is a huge reminder of why I don’t want to be back out there.
St. Anthony’s is where my support system is. This is where all my brothers and sisters in recovery are. All the people that are clean are an inspiration to stay clean. And if I do have some type of feeling, which really doesn’t happen often because I’ve done so much work on myself, I can pick up my phone and call probably a hundred people. And they’d be like, yeah, I’m here for you, what’s up? Do you need me to come pick you up? Do you want to go get something to eat or get some coffee or do you just want to talk on the phone?
I should have died so many times. I’ve been shot at, I’ve had guns held to my head and my chest. There’s many times I should have overdosed. And I always was like, God’s got something going for me, he’s got something planned. And now being where I’m at and doing what I’m doing, I’m like, this is it. This is why he didn’t take me. Because this was his plan for me.
Michael started working part-time for Community Safety Services (CSS) in 2018. A year later, he was promoted to employment specialist, responsible for recruiting CSS social enterprise candidates and supporting them in their employment. He is four years sober.