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The People of Sunny AcresI’m from Simi Valley. I have a brother four years younger, and he and I grew up in an alcoholic family - both parents alcoholics. They divorced when I was 15, and I moved with my dad to Missouri. Shortyly thereafter I quit school to get a job and to just get away.
The job was in landscaping and I worked at the same place until age 19. I was a pothead, but stayed away from alcohol, at least for a while.
At this point, I went back to Simi Valley. I had some money, so I bought a car and started delivering pizzas. That kept the money coming in. That also got me started doing meth. I also started drinking, and combined the two, then gave up the meth.
I didn’t get fired from the pizza delivery job – I actually quit it, and got a job installing windows and shower doors. All the while the beer drinking had been getting heavier, to the point that I would have a beer or two in the morning for the hangover, more beer at lunch, and pretty much beer all day long. I had hangovers every day, and would call in sick a couple times a week. The boss and I started doing cocaine together and of course before long I got fired.
I went to another window company next. I worked there for a year, then got fired over my drinking. By that time I also had a new daughter.
The relationship with my daughter’s mother was of course dysfunctional. I left for Arizona. Her mother then came and we were together, drinking and partying, for a year. Drinking out of control, that is, and by the end of that year the job was gone and so was she. Then my father died, and I entered into a two year drunk. Two years of booze, drugs – a long term black out, and two years just gone.
I moved back to Simi Valley and lived with my aunt. I got a job, and also got an ultimatum from my aunt – either quit drinking or get out. I got out. Shortly thereafter I was homeless, sleeping in the car, drinking, and living off unemployment. When the unemployment ran out, I used food stamps. I ended up in the hospital from an alcohol overdose.
My mom found me during my second trip to the hospital, and another cycle began: she would find me drunk and put me in the hospital, I’d get out of either the hospital or jail, would check into rehab, would leave, drink, get into fights, then go to jail – over and over. The only positive was I was able to avoid felonies.
At this point I actually began to want to clean up. But even if you tried to take rehab seriously, when it was over you just returned to the same environment. It was not a positive environment, and it did not help me.
Fortunately, at this time, I was aware that a friend of mine was at Sunny Acres. I called him and he told me to join him. My cousin brought me, and as I entered Sunny Acres I had been two weeks sober. I interviewed with Dan, joined the Sunny Acres community, and spent the next 4 months building garden sheds. Then, using the mechanic skills that I had developed throughout my life, I began working in the garage, and I’ve been doing that ever since.
It’s not that I have not had relapses here at Sunny Acres – I have. I went into town once, got drunk, and ended up in jail for public drunkenness. Coming back to Sunny Acres, I received 30 days restriction and 30 donation hours. I got caught a second time, and the penalty was double. I have worked off all penalties. I am now 4 months sober and I’m happy.
Back in the day, my family thought I was going to die. I did too. I felt like I wanted to die. Now I am past that – I’m happy and I want to live. I have a relationship with my daughter and I see her about every two months. I have started practicing the guitar again – I have actually played in cover bands for a couple of years in the past – and would like to do that again , this time sober.
At Sunny Acres I bring a high level of focus on my task at hand. I make things work, and that gives me a lot of pleasure. I work 6 days a week, and I am available to help others if I can.
In the future, I’d like to become a professional mechanic. I’d like to get a job outside of Sunny Acres, but this is where I need to come back to every day in order to continue my recovery. I need to be here for as long as it takes. Ultimately, I would like to be a clean and sober musician and mechanic, and an instructor of both.