A Survivor who Makes the Most of Every Day
When I met Bobby, it was hard to imagine that this cheerful, friendly, optimistic person had been through such a long period of hard knocks. It was a true pleasure and privilege to learn Bobby’s journey from dark despair to bright hopes for the future. A youthful 55 years old, Bobby exudes a new-found joy and confidence, appreciation and commitment to bettering his life. He hopes that by sharing his story, he can inspire others to hang in there when they are struggling to find their way.
–Ethel Gullette, Volunteer at RTC
I was raised by my mother, a single parent who worked all the time. I came to realize how dysfunctional my home life was. There was a lot of physical and sexual abuse. I had to develop survival instincts at a very young age. I’ve been in and out of the penal system most of my life. I’ve been in and out of recovery for the majority of my life. I have recently been diagnosed with bipolar schizoaffective disorder, which explains some of my difficulties as well. Having mental illness coupled with addiction, I was very limited in my ability to turn my life around.
About Choices and Consequences:
A rough young life, plus mental illness and addiction, led to self-delusion, bad choices and bad associations. When I told my navigator at RTC that I wanted to find a sense of home, they told me to “follow the yellow brick road.” When I deviated from that path, I encountered people with no heart, no courage, and no brain, myself included. My last release from prison was June 12, 2015. I found myself homeless, with no access to clothes, to food, to transportation, and to medical and mental health services, basically with no connections to society.
About Getting Help:
People at Mercy Corps NW RTC , have always been there for me. They fulfilled my basic needs – resources, action plans, bus tickets, etc.. Without those services I was doomed to fail. They made calls and referrals, kept me focused, on track, and able to function. They loved me when I was not able to love myself. The love I received time and again from people at this agency became my foundation for hope. They made me check in with them daily, they made progress tangible, they made success possible. It’s not an easy journey – it’s difficult and challenging. At first, I had my own hidden agenda, but I finally had to ask myself why I didn’t pay attention to their suggestions. They tell me the truth, all the time. They don’t do the work for you, but they make it all possible. It became personal. I have a heart relationship with the people here, a mutual relationship of care and concern. Now I’m in a learning state. I’m now teachable, and I don’t let false pride get in the way of learning new ways of being. I use Mercy Corps NW RTC as my GPS – the navigators send me where I need to go. In the course of a day, I take them with me. I value my relationships with my special people at this agency – I ask myself how they would want me to act, what they would want me to do. Their door has never been closed to me. These people, each of them, have saved my life in different ways. I’m in recovery. I’m inspired by them to do the 12 steps, to go to meetings, I have a sponsor. If it wasn’t for Mercy Corps NW RTC, I would have been lost.
About Attitude Adjustment:
I used to celebrate my own failures, to just look for excuses to fail. Pain, misery, time in prison, people I’ve hurt – I want these all to be in the past. I’m now at a point in my life where I don’t make any more excuses, I have purposes. I wasn’t living before, just existing. I have surrendered my powerlessness. I’m not responsible for the disease of my addiction, but I am responsible for my recovery. I am responsible and accountable to myself and to other people. I don’t have all the answers. I needed to learn humility, to get out of myself into the spirit of living and embracing others. When I learned to look to a higher power for guidance, things started to change for the better for me. I’m grateful now for all my opportunities, every morning I wake up. I’m learning to identify what I’m feeling, and to be honest with myself. The rules of my life are different; my values have changed. I have to talk about, write about, and understand my thought processes, the barriers I perceived, all sorts of new information, and facts about myself. The truth does set you free, and God is a merciful God. I’m not exempt from going through stuff. It’s no excuse not to keep trying. I take positive risks instead of negative risks. It’s not bad to be who I am today. I have remorse for hurting myself and others, but I don’t hold my head down. I don’t use drugs, I don’t commit crimes, and I don’t hurt people. I’m getting over the shame and the guilt, to get back to being normal. Being a wise mind is new for me. I have a good conscience. I evaluate each day, looking ahead to appreciating the opportunities of the next day, to fulfill my purposes. I don’t have a lot of time left. What I do have, I want to make the most of it. Today my cravings are different – no more drugs and alcohol. My priorities are God, recovery, and pursuing a good and happy life. This has been working, so I’m not changing it. I know storms are coming. I’m preparing for those storms – gathering the tools and keeping them in good order.
About Seizing Opportunities:
I stay focused on my goals and dreams. I have graduated from many self-help classes that have helped me identify issues in my life and in the community. I have taken the Rent Well class and the instructors’ class as well. I have worked on treatment for both my mental issues and my addiction. I’ve taken classes in parenting, anger management, grieving, relapse prevention, relationships and marriage. I volunteer with Volunteers of America. There are a lot of resources out in the community. You have to take the steps. the first step is the hardest. Dealing with unresolved issues is very important. I’ve done classes at RTC and they have referred me to other important agencies when necessary.
For me, success is knowing that basic needs are met – housing, food, shelter, mental health services. It is also seizing the opportunity to progress, having a plan of action for each day, taking baby steps toward fulfilling short-term and long-term goals. It is learning how to be still and how to trust the process. Things don’t just happen overnight. Undoing old destructive habits takes time. Success is establishing a social life around healthy people in healthy places, and being open to new ways of being with people. It’s taking it one day at a time and prioritizing aspects of my life that I have to deal with. Learning to be a productive, constructive human being is a skill. Things have to be in order. Now I have some stability, some foundation, which allows me to continue to build. I just keep showing up and putting my best foot forward. I now use the resources available to me as a diving board to spring into life.
Short-term, I want to become a self-reliant, independent, productive, responsible, honest member of society. I would like to become a research coordinator for Aspire, where I would help navigate resources for people with different needs. I want to become a Peer Mentor. I’d like to get married. I want to give back to the community that I took so much from. My long-term goal would be to work for Mercy Corps NW RTC , perhaps as a navigator.