Matt is a LIFE course student in recovery from addiction and will be taking on the challenge of sleeping out with us in just a week's time. Read his story and why he has chosen to do the Sleep Out...
"I’ve offered to do the Sleep Out because I used to be in that situation, I used to be homeless. For several months I lived in a bush in Berkeley Square at the top of Park Street and used to joke that even though I had no roof over my head, at least I was living in Clifton! The drink took me there, as well as police stations, hospitals, psychiatric units, and I was pushed from pillar to post. I thought I was mad but it was actually the drink.
I remember those really hard times when I was homeless, drinking and using drugs. I once lied to get a larger food parcel and I have never forgotten it. I want to sleep out to make up for times like that. I had to lie to survive but I still felt awful about doing it. For an alcoholic and an addict like me, one of the biggest hurdles to get over was my pride – asking for help. I thought I should be able to do it on my own.
I’m in recovery now. I’m no longer homeless but I was recently going through a bad time and I could no longer put food on the table. I came to the Wild Goose Drop-In because I just wasn’t coping very well with life. They gave me some food and helped me sort out some of my financial difficulties and that started the ball rolling. I heard about the LIFE course through my doctor and was pleased when I found out it was run by the same people as the Goose. It was perfect timing for me because I desperately needed some life skills, I’ve never really had any. Bills, dealing with people, grief and anger… stuff like that I never really had any idea about.
I’ve enjoyed everything so far. There’s been stuff I’ve learnt that I wasn’t even aware of! I’ve never known how to deal with life. I have really struggled with reality and facing up to life’s problems. Even when I became a dad, I struggled to face up to my responsibilities. I just couldn’t handle it and longed for a way out. So I thought I’d start drinking for a while and then all of a sudden, it wasn’t just a while, it was all the time. I was present for my son’s 1st birthday party. By the time his second birthday came around, they had already left me.
One of my goals for the future is to meet my son for the first time since he was a baby. I need to respect the fact he’s an adult now and he may not want a relationship with me but I hope that now my life has turned around we might have more of a chance.
Another goal is to stay sober and be the grown up that I never was in the past. It’s a day at a time and you never know what’s around the corner but I have hope.
I think the best part of being in recovery is the fact that I no longer depend on alcohol to solve my problems. When I was in addiction, I was just trying to avoid everything. I know they say life isn’t a bed of roses… I used to think it was and I used to wonder why there were all these thorns. Now I’m able to see that bad situations are not the end of the world. If something stressful crops up I am able to cope without turning to drink and drugs. I love being able to actually enjoy life. The fact that I can be happy without using drugs or drinking to make me happy – that’s something about recovery I really appreciate.
It’s great to come to the course and socialise with people. Life is like a house of cards for addicts like me. We build up our lives and then pull them down and start drinking yet again. I don’t want to do that anymore. I am so grateful for the roof over my head and that’s why I want to do the Sleep Out – to give something back - because I walk past people who are homeless and I wish that I could help them. I used to be like them."
Please show Matt your support and encouragement and sponsor him here.