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A force for change

How one man took his personal experiences with trauma, grief and addiction, to create a safe and supporting group, helping others overcome those same difficulties.


 



My name is Matthew and in 2021 I created the 'Come Together Hub,' which was formed to provide a floating support service for the most vulnerable in society.

After spending many years struggling with addiction myself, suffering with poor mental health and experiencing homelessness, I found it extremely difficult to access the services that were available. After finally getting the help I needed, I wanted to help others access this same help... and so Come Together Hub was born.


This is not a plea or a tale of 'woe is me'. It is more an attempt at removing the barriers between you and I, between us and them and understanding that everyone has their own unique story, struggles and traumas but sometimes we just need a little help to pull us out of a dark place.


Here is a snapshot of my story, thank you for taking the time to read.



23rd June 2014




I had a harsh realisation that if I did not change and change quickly I was going to die. Not only was I going to die but I was almost at the point where I wanted to die.

How did I get here? Lets rewind the clock to 30 years earlier...


I was a 6 year old, happy, healthy boy. That was long before I knew about the hardships of life, the struggles that I was inevitably going to face because lets face it life is a struggle - if life has its ups then you better believe it also has its downs. So while I was busy being a happy 6-year-old; innocent, full of joy and wonder, I attempted to wake my mother. I knew nothing about her addiction, I didn’t understand why I could not get a response from her. I tried to open her eyes and still no response. At that point I knew nothing about life, only the moments I was living and in that moment my still developing brain was being programmed to respond to rejection, it was establishing a belief that I was not good enough. Of course, it is only with knowledge and experience gained in later life, that I realise what was going on internally for me.

Over the next few years I had lots of similar experiences of rejection from the person who by nature should have been there to nurture my vulnerable mind, I don’t blame my mum for what happened I understand now that addiction is an illness but back then I didn’t. I was being conditioned and silently in the background my own addiction was growing, waiting to be unleashed. It was strong, like a wild tiger locked in a cage, waiting for a chance to escape and reap vengeance on a seemingly hostile world.



My lovely mum

When I was 10-years-old I vividly remember the moment my dad told me that mum had died. Although, I don’t actually remember anybody saying that she had took her own life, I can’t ever remember hearing those words but I somehow knew. As everyone around me was in distress, I found myself feeling numb and I can see now with hindsight that it was when I began to shut down my emotions which is a common grief reaction.



The next year or two I was extremely confused. I knew nothing about mental illness, nothing about addiction, I had nothing to blame. In my naive mind it was my mum who had chosen to leave us. At that time, it didn't occur to me how low she must have been to take her own life, knowing she was never going to see the people she loved the most ever again. On reflection, all I understood was that I felt a void in my soul, something was missing, and it was never going to return. My mum had gone and despite all her moral and parental failings, I missed her more than anything and the pain I was in was more than I had ever known.


 I started high school and my dad was doing his best with me, he was in fact a great man, funny and kind, cleaver and caring he was also a functioning alcoholic he worked hard and drank harder; he was obviously dealing with his own pain in his own way. I knew nothing about alcoholism and to be honest, neither did he.


While in high school I started drinking at weekends, then experimenting with drugs. At last I had found something that took away the empty feelings. Using drugs made me feel confident, feel invincible, I felt like I could be me. Using produced an illusion that I could handle anything life threw at me and to be honest I thought at that time there wasn’t much else it could throw at me, oh how wrong I was.




Me before the disease of addiction set in.

After being kicked out of school,drug usage was daily and I started to become more and more curious about harder drugs. By the time I was 17 I was heavily addicted to heroin a drug that took all my pain away. Most drugs are pain killers and heroin was up there with the best. A one-night stand lasted 17 years and brought a whole new level of misery to my life.


In 2010 I was in prison, my ninth sentence. This time I was serving three years and with time to think, I finally gained enough knowledge about addiction, my behaviour and life in general, to know that I needed help.



My time in prison


Two years later I was released into a treatment centre. It was here that I started to be honest and open up to others about my life. Reflecting on my childhood, way back to a time before the addiction took hold, back to the experiences that had shaped my beliefs. I can now understand that the treatment centre was like nowhere i'd been before. Here I found the people to be friendly and compassionate with a genuine desire to help.


 After treatment I began to drink again naively thinking that my problem was the drugs not the drink. This type of thinking led me straight back to using drugs. However, I knew for sure that I didn’t want to die. Maybe the fear of what happened to my mum led me in another direction. That’s why on that night of the 23rd June 2014 I decided I was going to change, not just abstinence but really changing me to the core.



The next day I went to a meeting of Narcotics Anonymous (NA). Here I admitted to feeling powerless. I embarked on a course of action that stripped away the denial and the excuses of which I had hidden behind for so long. This course gave me hope like i'd never had before.


 I started to go to college and educate myself. Most preciously to me, I was re-building relationships with my family; relationships with my then 14-year old son and my dad. My dad, who by this time was dying himself; unfortunately the alcoholism had a strong grip and in 2015 he sadly died of chronic liver failure. I'm forever grateful that before he passed he witnessed that I was clean and changing. I told him on his death-bed that I was going to continue to stay clean and I would make him proud. My dad struggled to speak then but he managed to tell me that I already make him proud. I will cherish this for a lifetime.


The last 10 years of life has still had its struggles, but I’ve never once felt like using drugs to ease the inevitable pain that happens to us all from time to time. Every day I try to be better, I try to help others and I work hard at being connected with family, friends and the community. One lesson I’ve learned is that I’m not in competition with anybody but me, I’m the only one I’m trying to better. These days I have a good routine, I get up at 6.30 am every single day, I meditate, exercise and try to learn something new each day, I try to fulfil my responsibilities to try to be the best version of me I can be and there is still lots of ways I can improve.


Today, I am happier than ever, I have a wonderful partner who is always a strong supporter for me, I have a great relationship with my son and I have 3 beautiful grandchildren. I take comfort in knowing that they will never, ever know me as a drug addict and they will never feel the rejection that I felt or the pain of witnessing a family member fading away due to the disease of addiction.



With my grandson.

Come together Hub continues to be there in support of those who need a safe space, a friendly face and a helping hand to improve their lives. We continue to grow our services from community outreach, meditation sessions, exercise classes, IT support, social gatherings, counselling sessions and more.


We are always grateful for any donations whether that be monetary, clothing, toiletries, food, blankets etc...it does not matter about the size of your donation, every little helps. When we come together, we can create a better future for all.



‘Recovery is about progression not perfection’


Our Free meditation session at Peppermint



 

Thank you to Matt for sharing his inspirational story with us. We continue to support Come Together Hub and we are proud of the work that they do within our community.

If you'd like to make a small donation to the charity, we have a donation tub located in the studio, you're welcome to bring in any physical donations or if you wish to make any other donations, contact the Hub directly.










593 views4 comments

4 commentaires


Rosanne Bond
Rosanne Bond
28 févr.

💜💜💜💜

J'aime

Carl Grace
Carl Grace
22 févr.

Proud & grateful 🙏🏼 💜

J'aime

So heartbreaking reading this. Matt you really are an earth angel. I'm proud that I can call you my friend. Good luck for your beautiful future xx

J'aime

Absolute legend ❤️

Truly inspirational

J'aime
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