This week we spoke with resident Michael C., who recently celebrated his one-year sober birthday. Michael holds internships in the Music Department and with Freedom Song. He shared about how he has spent his time in lockdown doing online classes, learning new skills, and honing old ones.
How did you find your way to Beit T’Shuvah?
For about 9 months before I got here, I went on a run that broke me in every single way. It destroyed me mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I was lost. I didn’t know what to do.
I lost my job, I lost the support of family and friends, I lost connection, and I lost my apartment. I didn’t have anything, and I ended up homeless. I had heard the name “Beit T’Shuvah” from the sponsor of one of the old residents, so I called, talked to Lysa, and it took me about 7 weeks to get in.
During that time, I was homeless on the streets in Westchester, eventually sleeping at the airport. I would find people that were already sleeping in the check-in areas, and I’d crawl in with them and blend in. I would walk around the loop, bumming cigarettes left and right.
I also started going to meetings during this time. I went to 16 meetings a week because I had nothing else to do. I ended up staying sober through this period of homelessness, and I just kept calling BTS. I ended up at CRI-Help for 11 days, but when I discharged, I was homeless again.
Back on the street and not knowing what to do, I almost got high. I found this guy and asked him where the nearest dispensary was. We started walking toward the dispensary, and I heard this voice in my head saying you’re gonna fuck everything up if you get high. I ended up calling somebody on the way to the dispensary, and he talked me down.
The next day I called BTS again, talked to Dena, and broke down. I was at the CVS next to the airport, and I was bawling my eyes out. I didn’t know what was wrong with me or how to change—I was once again lost and had nothing. At that moment, I thought about walking to the top of the CVS building and jumping off. That thought ran through my mind several times—luckily I didn’t follow through with it.
Finally, I got a call from Lysa, and she told me that they had an opening. I entered the house on May 28th of last year. I came in with 45 days sober—I had stayed sober through that entire time of homelessness. I realized that if I could stay sober while homeless, then I could stay sober through anything.
How did you get involved with the creative arts at Beit T’Shuvah?
When I did my intake, Marty told me about Freedom Song, and since I come from a theater background, I was all for it. I started getting involved and talking to the people in the music department too. Soon, I was officially an intern in both departments.
I’m also in school right now at West LA College, studying stagecraft and set lighting.
What was your initial reaction to the lockdown?
My initial reaction was shock. I was like okay, what is going to happen now? My school had already started transitioning to online classes, but there was so much uncertainty. Luckily, around the time this happened, I had just completed my third step, which was perfect timing. It was exactly what the third step prepared me for: letting go, handing it over to God. And that’s what I did. Also, because we didn’t have a band going into that first service during the lockdown, I learned the entire Friday night service in a week on piano, practicing it nonstop.
What do you do to keep occupied in your downtime?
I watch a lot of Netflix, like the rest of the world. I play piano. I also registered for online classes that different lighting companies are offering to teach about their lighting boards. I’ve also been doing step work here and there.
Do you attend online AA meetings?
I attend my homegroup’s Zoom meeting and a few others. It’s a challenge for me to stay focused during the virtual meetings—there are so many other things going on. I also go to groups like Torah study.
What are you looking forward to in a post-crisis world?
I’m looking forward to being able to use the skills I’m learning right now through online classes. I don’t want to sit here and do absolutely nothing; that’ll just make me depressed, angry, and upset. I want to get through this and be better when it’s all over. I don’t want to regress; I want to keep moving forward. I don’t want to give up on my goals—that’s what I did for the last 10, 15 years. This time I’ve determined that I’m not gonna give up. And because of Beit T’Shuvah, I have a life. This place is incredible.