Being the Man I Need to Be for My Family

I’ve lost a lot of people in my life, starting from when I was young. In my teenage years, both my older and younger brothers passed away, followed a few years later by my mother and father. My long-term partner and our four children became my world, and I focussed my life around us. Two years ago we were going through a separation. I couldn’t handle it, and I attempted suicide.

What followed has been a very hard road. I’d caused a brain injury, which affected my memory, cognition, and physical health. I was grateful to have my ex-partner and kids there for me, but my injury had changed me. I just wasn’t the same person anymore. I became homeless, and dependent on drugs.

I understood that my family needed a bit of space from me, and I wanted to change myself, so I moved into The Mission’s Te Pā Manawa. When I arrived, I could tell that I was putting myself into the hands of people who could help me. It was the right place for me to create some normality.

Having my own room where I could think and reflect was exactly what I needed. Taking part in our morning meetings and everyday activities gave me routine, and talking with the guys in the house took me out of my own head. I got to know each person, and learned about their pasts, their troubles, and where they wanted to go. The staff opened up about their own lives too, and helped keep me going. I also got a lot out of encouraging the other guys, and being honest about my experience, so that hopefully I could stop someone else from taking the same path that I did. Belonging to a bigger group was completely new for me, and it was just what I needed at the time. It brought me a new perspective on my life and my situation.

Everything I was doing was about dealing with my background issues, to become better for my family. I couldn’t see my own progress, but over time people started noticing how much my health was improving
and my whole personality was growing. Hearing that sort of thing builds up your confidence, and a few months ago I was ready to live independently again. Gaylene from the Pā advocated for me with my landlord, and I moved into my flat.

Now I’m doing everything I can to get back to my career, and at the moment I’m completing cognition testing to prove that I can work safely. The Pā is still in my life, and I sometimes pop in to catch up. It’s good to know that whatever happens, that community will always be there for me. I definitely feel a lot better, and I’m never going back to where I was in the past.

My family means everything to me. All I want is to be back with them full-time, but it’s about getting myself right first. My youngest daughter and son visit me heaps, and we all have dinner together in the family home every Sunday. Christmas time for me is all about being with family. And for the first time in a long time I’m in a better place, which means we can all be together.

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