I am Health, We are Health, This is Health.
"For the longest time I felt my life was not fair. Tragedy seemed to punctuate every happy memory."
It all started in Guatemala. My mother migrated to the US when I was six months old; leaving my brother and me in the care of her parents. I hardly knew my father. He died at 40. He was most known for being a raging alcoholic.
Soon after my father’s death, my grandmother died and my grandfather’s Alzheimer’s took over. My brother and I began to load buses to pay for our food. I was just 8 years-old.
At one point, we attempted to go to the US. But this dream quickly ended when the man standing next to the bus driver pulled out a gun, asked for money, and then shot the driver point-blank. My brother grabbed me and we darted out the back of the bus. Life scared me.
A few years later, my mother was able to send for me and my brother. She had to introduce herself to me; I did not recognize her. We also now had a stepfather and a new set of rules and expectations to follow. It was too much. My brother and I split from the house to live on our own. We lied as a way of survival. We worked full-time pretending to be much older than our 12 and 14 year-old selves.
I began bartending to earn extra money and soon found myself drinking. Drinking cleared the painful images of my life – the shootings, explosions, convoys of police burned up, violence, loss of loved ones … war.
I fell into a spiral of drinking, and living recklessly. It all began to slip away. I was my father; I was angry I was no different. I turned drinking and drugs into a way to kill myself.
I was in-and-out of jails, running from law. Running … from myself. For three years I was homeless. It was just me and a blanket behind Safeway in Langley Park. I was disheveled and smelled terrible; no one risked getting too close to me.
And then things changed. A man called out to me. He told me he could help me. It was my brother.
I began to work in construction. I met a woman. Yet, I couldn’t stop drinking on my own. My now-wife found La Clínica’s substance abuse program. The moment I walked in, I saw God through La Clínica. They helped me see things differently. I can now say, since November 2nd, 2010 I have been sober. It is a constant battle, but I have learned to dedicate myself to living.
There were people that fought for me. That saw the humanity in me despite the unrecognizable man I had become. I understand my purpose now. Despite all the darkness and pain in my life, I was given the gift to live again. I am at peace. I am health.
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