SpenserFind out how you helped free Spenser from the prison of his childhood
Spenser hugged his knees a little tighter.
How long had he been in there? Probably hours. Still, he was used to the musty smell of the closet. And the darkness wasn’t so bad, once his eyes adjusted. His ears strained to hear any sound. All was quiet . . . but he didn’t dare even take a peek outside the door. He was afraid of what his mother might do to him if she caught him out of the closet.
Maybe she’d come after him with the broom handle. Like she did when that kid took his bicycle. She made him go and fight for the bike. And the other kid was much, much bigger. When he didn’t want to fight anymore, his mom told the big kid he could keep the bike. Spenser sure didn’t deserve it. Spenser’s eyes burned with tears at the memory. But he didn’t let them fall.
“I couldn't walk away from trouble.”
At 52 years old, Spenser could still feel the old bitterness rising inside him as he recalled how his mother “trained” him to be a “real man.”
For Spenser, the abuse he suffered at the hands of his mother was just the beginning. Things were about to go from bad to worse. “My mom used to give me alcohol all the time,” Spenser recalls. “I probably started drinking regularly when I was 12.”
With frightening speed, Spenser turned into a very volatile, very angry young man. “I couldn’t walk away from trouble,” Spenser says. “Because if [my mom] found out, it would be even worse. She trained me to be violent, not to back down. It really messed me up in the head. Dangerous, no fear . . . and with the alcohol . . . I wasn’t a very nice person.”
Nowhere to go, nothing to lose
Now in his early 50s, Spenser has spent a lifetime doing hard, physical work. His work ethic remained strong, but his body not so much. That’s how he found himself living in his car, addicted to alcohol and painkillers.
When Spenser made the decision to come to the Mission, he had two DUIs and a jail stint to his name. Of his healing, Spenser says, “It’s been a slow process. There was no, wake up one morning, oh my gosh, I’m cured.”
The scars you can't see
Past trauma and abuse leave invisible scars. That’s why part of the healing process at the Mission is helping people overcome emotional and mental health issues. Like depression . . . post-traumatic stress . . . and rage.
Part of Spenser’s healing process has been dealing with his past and his violent tendencies. It’s still a struggle, as Spenser freely admits: “I’m not violent anymore. But in certain situations I feel like I’m not handling it right because I should be hitting this person. I control it. But it still really eats at me like that wasn’t the way a man would’ve handled it.”
Spenser has spent the last two years moving forward on his daily journey to achieve peace and stability in his life. “I have a son and a daughter and a granddaughter. All they’ve ever known about me is being drunk. I’d like to make changes for them . . .” But most of all, Spenser shares: “I just want to have some peace in my life. Just to have peace.”
“It’s been a slow process. There was no, wake up one morning, oh my gosh, I’m cured.”
Thousands of broken individuals will come to the Mission this year. And like Spenser, many will be on the brink, ready to throw in the towel, unless they can find something to live for.
And it can start with you.