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Joe D. is not the same man he was a year ago. These days, he keeps to a rigorous, disciplined, almost monastic path of healing, growth, and spiritual discovery; praying, reading, meditating, working, and being of service. He’s a handsome guy: gray hair, gray scruffy beard, dark blue eyes, early forties. He doesn’t frequent the typical Beit T’Shuvah social watering holes. In fact, the newer residents probably don’t even know him, though they might recognize him as the friendly guy with a salt-and-pepper beard. He works a 9-5 to make ends meet and is up before the sun rises to start his morning meditation. You might recognize him from services, as he sings, dances and prays. Or you might have heard what people say about him: Joe D. is a miracle of Beit T’Shuvah, Joe D. should be the spokesperson for Beit T’Shuvah. This is not hyperbole.
Joe’s psychic change hasn’t come easy. It has been over forty years in the making – this transformation, this miracle mentioned above; over forty years of pain, struggle, and an enduring fight to never give up. And, Joe is overwhelmingly, shout-it-from-the-rooftops, grateful for the change. To a depressive, this level of pure-grade, high-octane gratitude might provoke nausea. But with all sincerity, Joe loves life — and Beit T’Shuvah. “Beit T’Shuvah gave me this gift, this miracle. Without this place, it would have never happened,” he says.
Joe was born Irish Catholic and the irony is not lost on him that he would find redemption, surrender, hope and transformation in a Jewish rehab. He was born with a profound, even biblical, need to medicate. Joe’s father was a priest, which might raise a few eyebrows since priests aren’t really supposed to be biological fathers. So, from a child to an adult, Joe carried the mantra: “I was my Dad’s biggest sin.” Talk about a cross to bear. So, Joe walked through life with a “never-ending feeling of not being good enough” and an all-encompassing sense of not knowing who he was. Such a misappropriation of guilt and shame is enough to swallow anyone whole. But, for the mind and soul of an addict/alcoholic, it is unbearable.
Before coming to BTS, things were looking very bleak for Joe. Disaster was looming around every corner. In the six months prior, Joe had fallen asleep at the wheel five times. He was living in Hollywood, shooting and smoking meth – an addiction he’d been stuck on for over three years. He was a few days shy of being evicted and reaping his electricity from cords spider-webbing out to various neighbors. The windows were boarded up. Then one day, in the early morning hours, Joe’s house was raided by the DEA and Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. Joe was nowhere to be found, but his wife was detained. Finally, something cracked. Joe had hit his bottom. He made a call to his friend to seek treatment. Two months later he walked into Beit T’Shuvah.
Now, nine months later, he is a new person. “The biggest gift BTS has given me is that for the first time in my life I feel like I know who I truly am,” Joe explains. “BTS has not only given me my family back but also the best relationship I’ve ever had with my mom. It’s given me a true sense of gratitude for my life, and everything that entails. Not to mention, the best relationship I’ve ever had with God.” If you know Joe, even in the slightest, these blessings are not only evident but obvious.
The journey to Joe’s awakening was simple, yet hard. “I left my phone in my room, I avoided the women’s patio like it was the plague, and I did anything and everything that was asked of me. I can’t tell you what exactly it was that led to my spiritual awakening, only that I took advantage of everything BTS has to offer, and it was that wholehearted approach that got me to where I am today. I used my time wisely. It’s not a vacation, and it’s not meant to be easy. If you’re not struggling or exhausted, you’re probably doing something wrong. But I believe we each know in our heart of hearts if we’re giving it our all, and I can honestly say I did.”
Joe is a walking example to everyone in the community how Beit T’Shuvah can work if you allow it. This place really can make miracles.