One of the gifts of recovery is that you learn how to live and enjoy life without the use of drugs and alcohol. To someone new to recovery this idea seems impossible. Often times when people take that initial step to get sober they find themselves without hope let alone the presence of joy. Mat’s humor and approach to recovery is both fun and inspiring. He is approachable to the new comer and quick to break the ice with a smile or a joke. In addition to the work Mat does in the recovery community; he still finds time to sponsor other men, is an active alumni of Fellowship Recovery Community Organization, and a living example that recovery is possible and fun!
From a very young age, maybe three or four years old, I can remember always being uncomfortable. Not okay in my own skin, simply put. I was picked on in middle and high school. Mostly unprovoked – at least initially. I found my identity in rap music subcultures, smoking weed and rebellion. Seeking a form of expression and whatever made me feel safe, I was, and still can be, a social chameleon.
My first alcoholic experience was at a party when I was fourteen. That night I drank apple juice and vodka sitting against the wall. I did not feel it at first, but upon standing I discovered the relief that I would eventually chase into the depths of hell. The alcohol hit me all at once like electricity through my body. I did not go off the deep end immediately, but from the age of eighteen to twenty-seven I ended up there.
I used prescription drugs like Vicodin, Percocet, Xanax, and Ambien. I discovered meth through a coworker. I eventually was arrested and convicted of a DWI. I spent many, many days and months in detox and rehabs. I stole from my mother, cursed at her, and manipulated every human being I encountered. Broken relationships…my mom’s broken heart and the look of despair in her eyes…the horror of using when I really did not want to use…. the loss of control all led to jails, institutions, and all but physical death.
On February 23rd, 2018 I drank and took a handful of psych meds that just happened to be delayed release capsules. On February 24th, 2018 I had seizures and was transported by EMS to a hospital I was ultimately not allowed to leave, legally. I had finally, thoroughly experienced the pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization that was long overdue.
I completed detox in Texas and flew to Florida for rehab on March 1st, 2018. I immediately began working the steps with a sponsor and attending meetings daily. The process led me to a God I have come to know. Once I completed treatment, I moved to Fellowship Recovery Community Organization.
At first, I worked the “phone rooms” until at about 9 months sober, I started working at Respite. Being of service, becoming a contributing member of the community and in recovery I found my purpose – To be of service to God and my fellow man. I was able, with God and the program, to persevere through character carving experiences. Meeting new people and taking on new opportunities. Then in April 2020 I was hired as a peer specialist working with parents and caregivers to find substance abuse treatment and services in Broward County. I moved out of Fellowship to my own apartment in August 2020.
In December of 2020 I got to visit home (Texas) for the first time since my flight to Florida. Family is incredibly important to me and I am thankful to have a relationship with them again and show them my best self.
Although I no longer reside at Fellowship, I still remain involved in the community. I actively participate in the Fellowship RCO Advisory Council, who’s first community project was to create and develop the butterfly garden that is thriving behind the community center. My mom came to visit recently, and I got to bring her to the garden and share it’s beauty with her.
Today, among many things, I am grateful for God, my recovery, my family, and the community I am now a part of. On February 24th, 2021 I celebrated 3 years of sobriety. My advice to anyone new in recovery is: get a sponsor, work the steps as if your life depends on it because it does, go to meetings and share at those meetings. Always trust God, and take suggestions. “Chop wood, carry water.”