While coming to Cenikor is never an easy choice, it’s often the best and, occasionally, the only choice. We are proud to share with you the story of our client Shawn A., in his own words. Read on to see the ways that finding true change can reshape the entire history of you.
My name is Shawn. I am currently a resident of Cenikor in Amarillo, TX at their facility for sober living. My intention in sharing my story is to provide hope for the still-suffering addicts. It is certainly not to boast, as my best thinking in active addiction landed me in prison three times, twenty-seven different county jails in three states, and inpatient rehab for drugs and alcohol six times. I have lost vehicles, homes, and friendships and caused insurmountable pain for my family, all because addiction had me in a death grip. At the time, I couldn’t see it, nor could I have accepted it. I had to reach that cliche jumping-off point before I gained the willingness to surrender to a new way of life.
I had always considered myself well-educated and incredibly talented; my ego could walk into a room before I did. I had experienced a great deal of success in sales, and that subtle manipulative quality served me well in active addiction. I could effectively use and abuse everyone who crossed my path without remorse, as if the world owed me something. My primary purpose then was to feed my addiction with whatever mind-altering substance I could get my hands on; Methamphetamines were my love, but hell, anything would do in a pinch; it did not matter the cost to my loved ones, my freedom, or myself.
I am willing to be vulnerable and share a few highlights of what has been going on in my life in the last twelve weeks. I have a very close friend that I grew up with; he is an addict in recovery. He kept checking on me every few weeks, asking me if I was ready to tap out and surrender to the process. Hell no, I wasn’t ready. I was out there running the streets, using and abusing substances to sedate or numb my intense emotional pain that was comprised of life’s hurts, disappointments, and scars.
Twelve weeks ago, the moment came. The literal jumping-off point they speak off. I could not go on with or without the use of drugs. I stood at an overpass, planning to time my jump so that I would end my life without fail. I was homeless. I was hungry. I was void inside and hopeless; death was the only viable option that could render relief. The only thing I had left at that moment was a pocketful of meth and a desire to die, but somewhere in the back of my mind, the stories other addicts in recovery kept telling me, words my friend shared, were whispering to me. If you surrender and give it up, things could get better. There was hope, maybe.
The reality of my situation was I was looking at a 20-year prison sentence. I promised myself when I walked out that prison gate last time that I would never go back. Another one of the thousand promises I had made of “this is the last time.” But I kept using, and using, and using. I honestly thought there was no way out and that I would die in my addiction. I had accepted that. I wanted help but couldn’t force myself to receive it. I didn’t know if I could go through treatment again, definitely not prison. I kept thinking my girlfriend would fix it; I felt that if I could simply talk with her everything would be ok. She, justifiably, wouldn’t speak to me because she feared the monster that active addiction had made of this broken man. She was scared to death of what I was capable of at that moment, and that was fair. I had multiple run-ins with the police while out hustling in the streets the last few weeks that I was living homeless. I had no respect for the law and society and, of course, no self-respect.
I was about to jump off that bridge but heard something inside me say, “it doesn’t end like this.” I paused, walked to the local Waffle House, and sat down with the thought of one last meal, skipping out on paying for it, then heading to check myself into the mental hospital. It is at the Waffle House, around 4 AM, that I reached out to my friend in recovery. I can testify to the power of one addict in recovery helping another. Once desperation lends willingness.
I contemplated if I was salvageable. Here’s where my lifelong friend, a fellow addict in recovery, comes in. These folks, fellow addicts in recovery, asked me if I was done yet. They asked if I was ready to try something different. I said yes, and at that moment, my friends swooped me up, paid the tab, and I was off to the Pavilion and then on to treatment.
I was admitted to the Pavilion for detox and stabilization. I was there for six days. Once discharged, my friends put me on a plane to a state-funded treatment center down in Deer Park, a Cenikor facility. Upon my arrival there, I felt strongly this was the last house on the block. I walked through the front door surrendered, all in, my mind made up. I’m going to do this, and I’m going to listen. I am willing to do what is suggested. As a result, my life has changed. I am willing to dig deep, even if it hurts like hell, but I have learned I am not alone in the journey.
I wondered if I would get anything back, personally, mentally, physically, or spiritually. Guess what? I did! Why? All because I gave up, I surrendered. I gave it my all while I was in the care of wonderful, caring, loving people there at Cenikor. It is very apparent they love their jobs and are passionate about helping those suffering from addictions.
I was released from Cenikor inpatient rehab, and my friends in recovery flew me back to Amarillo, Texas. I had no clothes other than what Cenikor had given me. I had no money. I had no food. What I did have was a desire, born from desperation, to stay clean and sober, one day at a time. I knew I could not do that without somebody’s help. On a Saturday morning, I walked into the Cenikor men’s sober living facility in Amarillo, Texas. They were not expecting me and asked if I could come back on Monday. Excuse my language; I said hell no. I need this. I want this. My life depends on it. The staff made some calls, and I was admitted. Since that time, I have gotten a job, and I have purchased a vehicle. Many relationships have been restored. I see my parents every day and do things for them instead of them always doing something for me. I am welcome in their home, as well as friends’ homes, because I’m living a clean, sober, honest life. I’m working my tail off, and last week I got a promotion to a job making six figures a year and a company truck, and things are beautiful today. I say this not to gain anything from Cenikor Foundation. I say this because this opportunity has not just changed my life; it has saved it. Somebody loved me enough to believe in me and know I could do it. Am I partial to Cenikor? You are darn right; this place helped save my life. Oh yes, one more thing, after 11 felonies, three times in prison, and numerous run-ins with the law. For some odd reason, which I know is a blessing from God, my higher power, I will be going to court next month and signing for deferred probation instead of the 20 years that I earned and deserve. Did miracles happen? They did, and I’m living, breathing proof of it. So, anyone out there willing and wanting to give up, please know this, somebody cares, and I love you, and I know that Cenikor has changed my life, and I hope you will allow it to change yours too. I’ll be here waiting. God Bless.