• David S.

    I Think of Faith and Gratitude

    Hi, I'm David. It wasn't easy to turn myself around. But the staff at the Safe Haven veterans program helped me a lot. Now I've found a permanent home and am going back to school. But I know how I could have turned out.

    As a child, my home was permeated with fear. My father didn't drink, but he was a terrible child abuser. My post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) comes not from my service in the army, but from childhood abuse. Every few days, my father beat me and my mother never stopped it. By 12 years old, I was an alcoholic. Not surprisingly, I had trouble in school. I skipped class a lot, drank wine and smoked pot with friends during the hippie-loving high school years.

    When the army recruiter promised me a career as a diesel mechanic in Germany, I said "sign me up!". When I got my orders as a cook instead, I felt betrayed and left the service. After many years driving a cab, drinking constantly and trying to cope, I went through a suicidal phase and finally landed in the Veterans Administration hospital. From there, I found the Safe Haven veterans program.

    At first, I was still pretty troubled at Safe Haven. I was dealing with a lot of negative emotions—depression, loneliness, self-pity. In recovery, we avoid self-pity like the plague, as that leads to the "poor me"s, which can quickly become "pour me a drink". I got back into recovery in Safe Haven, with the help of great staff people and Jim Chaplin, the program contact at the VA, has a very even temperament, and is consistent and good-spirited.

    Perhaps what I appreciated most was spending time in an environment that supported my faith journey. I didn't have to deny or hide my faith—I could celebrate it instead. Others would lay their hands on me and pray for healing. And Lynn Samaan, former Director of Spiritual Formation, was a very healing influence. When fear creeps in, I think of God and people and communities that are supportive. When depression creeps in, I turn toward faith and gratitude. I'm disciplining my mind, directing energy away from hateful thoughts and negative emotions, and toward things, people, and animals that I love.

    Now I'm radiating more joy, hope, and love, and spreading it to many others. I want to thank supporters of Safe Haven. You're sowing your financial seeds into very fertile ground.

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