Matt is finishing college and running the Boston Marathon

Matt is finishing college and running the Boston Marathon 2

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“Bad decisions were eating me up… but now I’m taking one day at a time… turning my will over to God each day.”

“I was brought up Catholic and went to a Catholic high school – Calvert Hall – but Christianity was not a way of life for me. Church was just a box to check off. Playing soccer and partying on the weekends really was my way of life. School classes were there and I did alright, graduating with a 3.0 GPA.

“I received a full scholarship to a Division I University to play soccer, but with the increased freedom, things went downhill pretty fast – partying even more. I made it through my junior year playing soccer, but didn’t go to classes. I was pretty out of control with chemicals and I lost my scholarship.

“I left and got a job – I apprenticed as an iron worker, made pretty good money and purchased a home when I was about 25 years old. I was in recovery at the time for about a year, but it slowly slipped away and I relapsed on opiates. It really got bad quickly.

“I was out of work, having totaled my vehicle and broken my hand. I started getting serious about my recovery again and parlayed my past college experience into an associate’s degree. I heard about Helping Up Mission through a friend who was involved with Back On My Feet. I looked HUM up online and came in on a Monday.

“It was my third rehab but other programs had only lasted about 17 days due to insurance coverage. When I got here, I had done alcohol; opiates were my drug of choice – raw heroin. I couldn’t live with it and I couldn’t live without it.

Matt is finishing college and running the Boston Marathon

“I had been doing really out of character things –I had lost the house to bankruptcy, lost my job, totaled my vehicle – my life was falling apart and snowballing out of control.

“I was pleasantly surprised by the spiritual part of the program. A seed had been planted in AA and during my one year of sobriety; I knew spirituality was part of recovery. I stayed at HUM for the first time for 5-6 months. I had a job lined up in a new field – solar energy. I had taken the online courses and completed certifications to work in the field. I thought I was OK.

“I stayed clean until my first paycheck. I was at a restaurant watching the World Cup and didn’t have the intention to pick up a drink – but I did. That was a learning experience! I blacked out and came to in Central Booking. I couldn’t believe how things had changed so quickly in a few weeks. The guilt of my decision ate me up. I had court dates and time to serve for my third DWI. I got right back into opiate addiction – I was doing even worse than before. I served eight weekends of jail time.

“I learned that relapse doesn’t have to be the end of recovery.

“Fear keeps a lot of guys from making the decision to surrender. There’s embarrassment and shame. Getting over the guilt and shame, and coming back through the door of HUM was part of a spiritual awakening for me.

“People understood that here. I knew I needed to be at HUM, and I didn’t put an end date on that the second time around. I decided to really get into the Word of God and really understand the meaning of the gospel.

“Taking one day at a time and working the program every day is important to my recovery. I start off the day, with morning devotions and getting into the Word. I go to the chapel and pray. I admit that I am powerless and turn my will over to God each day, keeping in constant contact with Him and relying on His power. I’m connected to AA, have a home group, and I am working the steps with a Sponsor. I go to church regularly. God’s really been working in my life and people can see that. It’s brought my family together – we’re all attending church together on Sunday, which has been remarkable.

“I’m going back to school and majoring in Human Services at University of Baltimore. I will graduate next year. I just want to help people.

Matt is finishing college and running the Boston Marathon 1

“Things have changed – I don’t react to things the way I would in the past. In the past when traumatic things happened, I would have used. Not today.

“Another part of my recovery – and an area transformed – has been running. I used to party with those I played soccer with. Now, running became like meditation for me. Addiction is a physical, mental and spiritual disease. I draw strength from the spiritual, but the physical benefits of running are part of my recovery.

“I ran my first marathon in the Baltimore Running Festival in October. I had never run very far before that – a 5K here and there or the Frederick Half Marathon in my twenties. I ran a good time at three hours and eight minutes. I qualified for the Boston Marathon. I didn’t get to play my senior year of college because of my substance use; it was heartbreaking. Now as a college senior, I am going to run the Boston Marathon representing HUM. God gave me an opportunity to do this, for a passion and purpose.

“Grace and mercy has been received here. I don’t deserve and couldn’t repay anyone for what I have now. I’m becoming the person that God intended me to be.”