“I was trying to define myself by what I was doing”

"I knew that I never wanted to do drugs again… I thought this is good, I've got all this stuff down! But then I went back to work. And I realized that even though I felt God had done something amazing, that there were still temptations and sins, and those could come out different ways. I'm out of jail, God's preserved my family, I'm not using drugs anymore, I'm doing the right things… but yet this sin is starting to creep back in. Everybody thinks I'm an idiot 'cause I went to jail for financial crimes. So I thought: if I can open up these dry cleaners, and open up some restaurants, maybe I can actually prove to somebody that I'm smart, that I'm a success. I started trying to rebuild my identity and my reputation, and it snuck up on me. And fortunately I had guys around me who care about me so much, and they saw what I was doing and they called me on it. I was still going to church, I was staying off drugs, but on a deeper level, I was trying to define myself by what I was doing, rather than by who I am in Christ." —– John Rusnak, speaking with our men this morning John, a former Wall Street trader and recovering cocaine addict, was convicted in 2002 of one of the largest ever cases of bank fraud. While in prison, he found God and gained sobriety, and since his release, he has become an advocate for second chances for men coming home from prison, starting a ministry called Uncuffed. #newlife #sobriety #soberlife #onedayatatime #sobrietyrocks #addiction #recovery #faith #NewMan #heardatHUM

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“I used to fly my own plane”

“I want more than that”

"The most important thing I have gained this year is my sense of self. For 36 years I sat around waiting for someone to tell me what to do, where to go, who to be. This year, I learned that I am the only one who can make those decisions. The only one who was working against me, was me. This year has given me the opportunity to find who I am and what I want to get out of life. A chance to stop feeling sorry for myself, and embrace what I did have, and the things I could do. Two weeks before I entered the program, I went on a pretty bad crack binge and lost my job. Since my boss was also my landlord, I found myself homeless as well. I decided that there was no way I could take my guitars or other possessions with me, so they quickly got pawned. With my last paycheck spent and all my possessions gone, I turned to selling my Suboxone to feed my addiction. I got robbed that night. It was then that I knew it was time. I was here at 6:30 the next morning. I often hear men say they just want to return to the men they were before they started using, but I want more than that. I want to be better than that version of me. Today I realize that I was on the wrong path regardless of my drug use. I’ve come a long way from the guy who was so desperate for that next hit. I’m back in college and doing better than I ever expected. I’ve expunged multiple things on my record and have begun to take care of financial issues that stemmed from my addiction. More importantly, I have been able work on myself and how I deal with things. I still have a lot to work on but I think that when you accept the fact that you are not perfect, character flaws become easier to notice and work on. That is something I never thought I would be able to do, but I did and now I refuse to go back." —– Jason, celebrating 365 days #clean and #sober #newlife #soberlife #sobermovement #addiction #recovery #heardatHUM

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“School is different now”

“I’m a little stressed out about my online class. School is different now – going to discussion threads, responses – navigating through those things is difficult. You have a picture of this person, but it could be a computer… you could program a computer to do the things they do. What’s lost is that interpersonal relationship, that personal knowledge. There’s a body and a face and you can go to that person and talk about your paper… now they read your paper and give you some points. It’s just something that us old people have to get used to. Music is a hobby for me; I love playing my Les Paul. It’s a relaxer, not an escape. I’m waiting for something to happen.” —– Yasin, 273 days #clean and #sober, unwinding with his #LesPaul #guitar in our chapel #musician #soberlife #sobermovement #backtoschool #collegelife #heardatHUM

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“Not giving up.. but giving in”

“On July 14th, 2015, the power of God separated me from drugs and alcohol. The night before, I was shooting heroin into my arm, crying because it wasn’t working any more. I found myself completely broken and hopeless, a selfish, self-centered, fearful alcoholic and drug addict. I understood the hopelessness of my condition, but I did not understand – nor was I willing to see – my need for God. I came to the Mission not by choice, but out of desperation for change – the desperation of a drowning man. The most important and radical change that has occurred over this past year has come from within, and it all started with walking through those doors and not giving up.. but giving in.” —– Travis, 365 days #clean and #sober #sobermovement #hope #God #sobriety #oneyearclean #oneyearsober #heardatHUM

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“I realized that this is what I want to be doing”

“The best day of my year here”

“I was blind for 36 years in my left eye.”

"I was blind for 36 years in my left eye. I was 11 years old… just a kid fight, a street fight, basically a lucky shot. Fight was over, we were parting ways, he called my name and threw a 9 volt battery with everything he had – POW – and it was toast. Woke up in the eye doctor's, but there was nothing they could do. Fast forward 36 years to last fall… I went for an eye exam here for reading glasses, and they said "What if we told you we might be able to fix that?" They operated in November, and the last of the stitches came out in May. It's crystal clear now; I can see 20-30 uncorrected. And that's just one piece of what's happened since I've been here." —– Dan, 365 days #sober, is seeing clearly in more ways than one! He graduates today from our spiritual #recovery program. #neweyes #hope #soberlife #heardatHUM

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Mark’s story

"Both my parents worked all the time to put food on the table, so I was pretty much on my own with my friends. I didn’t really know who I was, because I looked Filipino, but I talked and carried myself more as a West-Baltimore American. I just went with the flow. I started experimenting with alcohol and weed in middle school, and by 9th grade I was a real heavy weed smoker. When I was 21, I went to art school in PA and got a degree in fashion marketing. I was making and selling t-shirts, doing tattoos, and filming music videos for local rap artists. But I started using pills – Percocets, Oxys, Opanas, Benzos – and it started affecting my whole character. And that led to my friend’s death." —– Mark, who we interviewed in prison You may have heard about Mark Ramiro in the news. Late one night in July 2014, he was with several friends – all high on drugs. They were filming stunts in the basement of his South Baltimore home, until things went fatally awry. Mark’s friend of 15 years, Darnell Mitchell, strapped on a bulletproof vest and asked to be shot in the chest. But Mark aimed inches too high, and the bullet hit Darnell just above the vest. Mark rushed his friend to the hospital, but it was too late. Mark came to Helping Up Mission in June 2015. He had already successfully participated in several short-term recovery programs, but he was still awaiting sentencing, and constantly wrestling with the trauma and shame of what he had done. In March 2016, Mark Ramiro was sentenced to 4 years – but he went to prison with 9 months’ clean time and, more importantly, a new perspective on his past and his future. #soberlife #recoveryanywhere #prison #jail #hope

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You can read Mark’s whole story here: helpum.org/markramiro

Teddy writes poetry on the piers

"For so long I lived only at night… Under the cover of darkness was where I did my work. Coming back from the bar drunk, I was ashamed. I grew up in Annapolis, so I've always been around the water… It's the sound, the feeling, the cleanness of just being right on the edge, where the water meets the land, and the sun coming up… There's a connection of all things coming together, and in that I find my connection with God, even if I don't know that's what I'm seeking. In outdoor settings, away from some of the hustle, alone – it's communion. I can commune with my Higher Power and He can reach me without distraction. It's definitely where I do some of my best work." —– Teddy, 6 months #clean and #sober, writes poetry at sunrise on the pier at Fells Point Check out a short video of one of Teddy's poems at the link in our profile! #poetry #fellspoint #baltimore #waterfront #soberlife #sobermovement #faith #stepwork #heardatHUM

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