Matt Brown was raised by his parents in Carroll County along with his two older sisters and two younger brothers. “As I saw it, I had a normal childhood,” says Matt. “As I got older, I became aware that I was being physically and mentally abused by my father, but that was what I knew as the norm as a child. I thought it was normal to never be good enough in my father’s eyes.”
“I started playing football when I was 12 and by the time I entered high school, football was my life. As a sophomore, I was moved to the varsity and being looked at by college recruiters. By law they were unable to speak to me until my Junior year, but when my Junior year started, my father forbid me from playing football due to his religious beliefs. When my Dad took football from me, my path changed. I went from focusing on academics and athletics to drugs and partying.
“I graduated from high school and started selling cars at the age of 18. By the age of 20, I was managing the dealership, but that still not enough for me. From an early age, I had been instilled with the belief that I could never do enough, be enough, or live up to the expectations of my father. No matter what I accomplished, I never saw myself as enough. My car, television, home, and all of my possession couldn’t be big enough for me. This discontent created a huge void in my life, and I attempted to fill that void with the use of drugs and alcohol.
“By the time I reached 24 years old, I was a full blown addict. My drug of choice was pharmaceutical pain pills. Once my addiction started to become more than I could bear, I decided a dry out period was needed. I came clean to my parents and told them I had a problem. My life hadn’t become unmanageable in my eyes, because I still had my job and home. I stopped the pills, but continued to drink. I was able to maintain that state for about 2 years. Slowly, but surely I fell back into opiate addiction.
“This time the fall back into the grasps of addiction happened much faster. I lost my house, my car, and my job. Losing my material possession led me to trying another dry out period. I didn’t recognize my problem as addiction, so once again I tried to fill my life with activities and material things. That worked for a while, but the discontent inside of me continued to grow.
“I relapsed and my life spiraled so far out of control that I didn’t care to wake up ever again. I had done it again. I had lost everything. By now I couldn’t afford the pills anymore so I quickly moved on to heroin. I would take daily trips from Carroll County to Baltimore so that I could fuel my addiction. After 4 months, I was homeless; living out of my car. My addiction led me straight to an overdose, which literally saved my life.
“On September 28, 2012, I woke up in the hospital with complete desperation. I had nowhere to go. There was nothing left but a shell of a person called Matt. Some people on the street told me about Helping Up Mission and there my journey began.
“The Mission gave me a life I didn’t think possible. Before going through the program at The Mission, I strived for bigger and better things, but when I got them, I was never content. The Mission has taught me to find contentment in what God has provided for me every day. The contentment that I have today is more valuable to me than any material possession.
“In February of 2013, I joined the Helping Up Mission chapter of the Back on My Feet running team. I have always been an athlete but was never a runner. Running was hard at first, but I discovered it brings a sense of peace during and after each run. Running allowed me to feel more gratitude. When I was battling my addiction, I wouldn’t even want to walk up a flight of steps, now if I run less than five miles it’s a bad day!
“I ran my first half marathon this spring and I am now training to run the Baltimore Marathon on October 12, 2013 as part of the Mission’s running team, Team HUM. I’m running the marathon to raise awareness for the miracles that happen at Helping Up Mission. I believe the more people are made aware of what is going on here, the more people will want to donate time and money to this amazing cause. I believe it all starts with awareness!
“After all these years, I’ve made amends with my father, and have been able to build a relationship with him. He was able to share with me his childhood. I now know he did the best he could with what he had. I’ve finally been able to accept him and come to love him for who he is.
“Before I came to the Mission, my parents locked their doors, because they were afraid of what their own son was capable of doing to them. My mother shared with me lately that I am the rock she can lean on as my Dad suffers from terminal brain cancer. Words cannot express how it felt to hear that from her; grateful would be an understatement.
“When I think about my future, I know I am being directed to help people just like me who battle everyday with the grasps of addictions. I’m not sure yet what that will look like. I plan on staying in Baltimore City, where I will continue on with my education. I would like to get my degree in Business Administration/Management with a minor in Substance Abuse Counseling.”