Acceptance: Achieving sobriety without judgment

Jonathan hit rock bottom at the Mission and 16th bus stop in San Francisco high on meth and low on direction. Homeless and lost, he sought out help from The Salvation Army’s Harbor Light Center, where he learned the recovery tools necessary for staying sober for good.

Read the transcript of the video here:

Jonathan: I’m Jonathan and I’m now the assistant general manager at Fitness SF. I’m managing the sales department and then there’s just the customer service manager part of it. Whether it’s people wanting to leave the gym, people not knowing how to share equipment, I have so much more possibilities now in my life. I can live comfortably in San Francisco and when I was like, using like, that would have been ridiculous. I smoked crystal meth to begin with and then, in a sick true way, I’m happy that my disease progressed to me shooting the drug because I think that had me reach my bottom quicker. I had a drink with somebody at a bar and that led to my last time I used. I woke up in Sutter Davies Hospital and I had a John Doe bracelet on. I said, “I need to go into an inpatient treatment center. I need additional help.”

I knew that there was two rehab programs that they placed with and I was like, “let me go to the one down the peninsula, I don’t want to go to The Salvation Army.” I thought The Salvation Army don’t like gay people but then they was like, “you’ll be going to The Salvation Army anyway.” And I had my apprehensions but I also realized it doesn’t matter. I don’t have anything. I am living off of the goodwill of other people at this moment in time, and I ended up at the Harbor Light Center. 

During that 60 days period of time, I was happy in a way that, like, I didn’t have much to go back to the life that I had. It was kind of easy for me to be like you know it. I’m gonna stay past the Kaiser time that was allotted. I’ll at least be here until I can graduate the program, which is six months. My bed was right here. I haven’t been upstairs since I had left Harbor Light. You know, I’ve been in meetings in the main room there but haven’t been upstairs since.

At first it was just a matter of getting comfortable being here. You know, like I didn’t even live in a dorm when I was in college. Before going into Harbor Light, I found that I always just hung around with people that were gay because that’s what I found comfortable and in going in there ultimately I connected the most for people around my age, kind of going through the same ways for us to build our life together again. 

“We played it so much and we had to black out the pieces on the back of them. So then we would know which pieces people were playing or cheating.”

There isn’t a pretty package of being outside of your element for 30 days and all of a sudden you have all the answers. Each experience is a little bit different and it takes how long it takes to leave with the skills to build a successful life and that’s what I was able to do. It made a tremendous amount of sense for me just to continue with their services for ultimately a year and a half. That was not the place I was going to stay forever. It was time for me to move on. I remember waiting for my phone, like have them telling me that I can like, move into this next place. And then I get the phone call saying that I actually don’t qualify, I’m not making the income. I was really frustrated, you know? But I’m also once again really grateful that happened. I got to go through a major disappointment while in a living space that strongly encouraged my recovery and using recovery tools. I got to experience that and and go through you know a major challenge, from my perspective, while sober.

Alright I need to go get a job of some sort. I ended up with Fitness SF,  like “Alright well you can be a front desk greeter,” and like I thought but I have, like, college degrees and things like that.  I’m also living in rehab and realizing that that’s just another just thing in my head holding me back. So I was the best front desk worker that I could be and so then I got the sales position and it provided the financial means for me to move out.

Life picked up for me. Everything that The Salvation Army encouraged me to do, to have my basis in recovery, go to my same regular meetings, now I’m doing outside. I’m happy to now continue my relationship with The Salvation Army and get to serve as a person on the advisory board for the Harbor Light Center.

“You know, there’s so much life to live and you get the opportunity to live it, once you’re open to help.”

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