I was raised in a loving family, but my parents split up when I was only 7. Like many kids I found this hard, I felt like I had to be the man of the house. Mum got remarried, and my stepdad was a good guy. When I was in Year 10, I got introduced to drinking, I actually would have preferred to be doing other things, but within a short time, I was also smoking marijuana. My drug and alcohol consumption escalated quickly. I went to a trade school and loved it, but I found out they did drug testing so rather than give up drugs, I gave up on my schooling. My girlfriend was also into drugs, and I took cocaine before long. I kidded myself that this was all part of growing up. Mum was worried about me; I ended up getting honest with her, her worries were warranted!
One night I got into a fight with my stepdad and punched a window in my room, and the police were called. My parents put an AVO on me. At the time, I felt like my family was against me but looking back; I can see that they didn't know what to do.
I was able to hold down a full-time job, but I had no place to live and was couch surfing. But I could only do that for so long, I was homeless. My life was unstable, and I lacked direction and purpose.
I was with some mates one Friday night, and we were bored; we decided to go through some cars, and I stole a laptop and then sold it for $1000 and spent the money on alcohol and drugs.
I did feel guilty, but the guilt wasn't taking effect because I was always on drugs. The police knew I had stolen the laptop (my crime was captured on film). But despite this, I kept denying it. I kept pleading innocence! I had to go to court. Throughout this time I kept connected with my dad.
My dad and I are close, and we always keep in contact. Dad didn't live in Brisbane, so I wasn't able to live with him. My Dad was concerned for me, and one morning, he called me and said "Son, do you want to change your life or not? Only you can do this". Dad had found out about New Hope House (NHH) emergency accommodation and encouraged me to apply to stay there.
I was out of options and said I would give it a go.
The day I walked into the house, I was overcome with emotion. I burst into tears. Gary met me, showed me around and settled me into the house. It felt like home. It was so good to be in a drug and alcohol-free zone, but challenging because I had to go cold turkey.
It was a struggle to give up the habits I had developed, but I started to hate what I had been involved in. I didn't want to live like that anymore. I sat on the back steps of the house with Gary, and he said, "we are here for you; you can do this". I could feel myself changing. My court case was looming, and one night I was overcome with guilt and wanted to confess that I had stolen the laptop. Up till now, I had denied it. I called my dad.
My dad said , "Son, you have done a good thing telling me." A weight lifted off my shoulders. On the day of my court appearance, I confessed to the Judge. I owned up to what I had done. I kept saying I felt terrible, and I was so sorry for what I had done (the leaders at NHH had given me a letter of recommendation, they believed in me). The Judge asked me what I thought I should do. I said I wanted to pay the person that I had wronged back, and the Judge said. “Good, do that, case dismissed!” Mum and dad were there, and I felt so happy, it was so good to fess up to the Judge, you know, stealing that laptop, it wasn't me, it wasn't how I was raised, we were all crying. I needed my mum and dad there. I felt like I got my life back.
I had never believed in God, but I got to experience God's love through being at New Hope House. I got to experience a feeling of absolute peace, and I knew everything would be alright. Being here has saved my life.
*Name and image changed to protect privacy