“One day I realized I was too tired to keep living this life.” If you met Wilfredo years ago, you’d be surprised to hear that. He’d tell you that he could take on the world. He had to be tough and strong. Abuse will do that to you.
“I lived in a family full of trauma,” he tells us. “My dad was abused, so he became an abuser. He hurt my mom and me and it has left deep scars in my life. After he left, my mom didn’t know how to be alone, and she started to hurt me too.” Wilfredo knew that to survive, he had to get out.
“I ran the streets of my hometown of Worcester, Mass. I found a community on the street, where I felt like I belonged.” But suddenly, it crashed. “My life on the streets caught up to me, and I spent 10 years in state prison.” Prison gave Wilfredo time to reflect.
“When I got out, I knew I had to make a fresh start,” he remembers. And that meant reconciling with his mother. They needed each other’s love, and after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer, she needed his care. Just eight years after prison, she was gone. He’ll never forget. It was his birthday, and the first of a one-two punch. A month later, he learned his father died, too. It left Wilfredo feeling empty and hurting. He began to use – first drinking then drugs – just to feel better.
Soon it became his life. Thinking that all he needed was a fresh start to get his life back together, Wilfredo and his girlfriend came to Philadelphia. The problem is that you can run from an addiction, but you can’t hide. It didn’t take long for life to unravel, starting with his girlfriend. “I broke her heart,” he laments. “I loved drugs more than I could love her.” He ended up back on the streets. “I’ve been in and out of shelters since coming to Philadelphia. I remember when the Mission wasn’t a place for help. I was shocked when I heard everyone saying that the Mission was different. I decided to check it out.”
So, one day he woke up and just started walking – three miles from Kensington to Sunday Breakfast and the start of a new life. He is so glad that he did. “Pearl Street looked amazing. The art made me feel happy. It is only by the grace of God that I didn’t die out there. I was ready to walk into this place and start a new chapter.” Today, Wilfredo is clean for over 90 days, and counting.
The Mission’s program, staff, andother residents have helped him to stay sober. How? The only way that we know how. “When I got here the staff showed me love. They showed me God’s love and helped me to start to understand what true community is.” He’s also grown. Now, rather than running away from his problems, he owns them.
“I’m a recovering addict.” That’s huge to admit. “I’ve grown in my faith. Bible studies, prayer groups, meeting with the chaplain have all helped me.” Maybe the biggest test was when Wilfredo learned of the passing of his little sister. “Instead of using, I started praying. I pray every day now.”
Wilfredo’s journey isn’t over. “I have a lot trauma to work through. I need counseling, and I am working with the staff to get that help.” “I’m ready to move to the Next Level program so I can spend a year in a stable community filled with love and support. I’m committed to building a future for myself free from drugs and away from the streets.” Today, Wilfredo is finding his strength again, but this time it’s more than muscles. It’s his inner strength provided by God’s spirit. “Now,” Wilfredo is sure, “the cycle of trauma ends with me. We ask for you to pray for his complete healing and recovery from drug addiction.