It feels so good to finally be at home

Vince is a relapser. He was first admitted to SELF in 2008 for drug dependence and stayed in the program for about 18 months. He was about to go to the Aftercare Phase when he decided not to come back on his last day off. After three years, he relapsed and was readmitted in May 2015.

Background

Vince is the eldest child and only son in a family of three children. He was blessed with a close-knit family but grew especially close to his father and considers him his best friend.

It was his father who taught him all about the world of sports and was the driving force behind his involvement in local politics, the two areas where he excelled. Their entire family bonded over a shared passion for cooking good food.

Growing up, Vince was bubbly, smart and well-loved. At school he was considered popular and had good relationships with teachers as well as classmates.

His passion for sports carried over into his academic life. He became a varsity basketball player in grade school, which was the key point of his popularity. This served as his way to raise his self-esteem. Sports also paved the way for his closeness to his father. They became very active in his school’s “Father & Son Club” and his father backed him up fully in all his athletic activities.

Vince recalls a period in his early grade school days when he bullied effeminate classmates. He picked on them, punched them in the gut, and threw stones at them. He would even befriend them in order to lead them to a trap.

Eventually, he moved to a different school and was exposed to a co-ed environment for the first time. He adjusted gradually, developing crushes on girls. It was during this time that his bullying ended. Instead, he learned to befriend people genuinely and began gaining popularity. He went on to represent the school in sporting events and quiz bees.

Real Nightmares

During one summer, he reconnected with a friend from his old neighborhood. When that visit turned into him being led to a bedroom, he was hit with the sudden realization that his childhood nightmares were actually memories. This so-called friend had actually sexually abused him when he was much younger. He confirmed this when the person tried to undress him. This time, he stopped the person firmly despite attempts at bribery and left.

As he rode off, he felt violated, angry, but most of all, ashamed. This triggered feelings of self-hatred, and he promised himself he would keep the nightmarish realities of his abuse a secret for the rest of his life.

Decision Point

When he became a senior in high school, Vince got his first serious girlfriend. Sadly, she cheated on him and things ended between them. However, he was so in love with her that when the time came to choose a college, he was faced with a difficult decision.

There was a full scholarship waiting for him in one of the top universities in Manila, an athletic one that would make him a varsity player with a clear shot at competing in the UAAP.

The other option was to go all the way to where his ex-girlfriend was then studying and win her back.

He chose to follow his heart and gave up the scholarship. Eventually, he did manage to get the girl back, and they dated for the next eight years.

During this relationship Vince got to try marijuana and meth with her. However, at that time, neither of them found it to their liking.

Early Success

In 1991, at the age of 19, Vince’s political career began as he was elected the chair of his barangay’s Sangguniang Kabataan (SK). He rapidly moved up the ladder, winning the city’s SK presidency and thus became the city’s youngest councilor. Soon after, he became president of SK’s National Capital Region Federation and held this position for six years.

This was the other key bonding point between Vince and his father in addition to sports. For Vince, his father was his best friend, “barkada”, and campaign manager. He was also his biggest inspiration, the constant reason for wanting to excel in anything. He would always offer his achievements to his father. He considered his father his pillar of strength.

During the last few months of his final term in political office, Vince began having serious problems with his girlfriend. He would run to his father to vent, often crying and releasing his frustrations. In those moments, his father would simply listen with no negative comments about the girl. Instead, he would simply give good advice.

Vince didn’t realize how emotionally affected his father actually was by all this. It only came to light one day when his father blew up at him over something petty.

This was the first time the two had a heated argument that ended in his father almost getting physical with him.

Break Point

Vince was so upset, especially because his father’s last words were very hurtful, that he did not go home for two weeks. However, before he could patch things up with him, Vince received the news that his father had succumbed to a heart attack. He took this very hard and blamed himself for what happened.

Following his father’s death, Vince felt hurt and lost. He indulged in drugs, which gave him happiness and numbness in varying degrees. This, he decided, was much easier than dealing with the discomfort and pain that came with sadness, anger, and guilt. He stopped caring about anyone else’s lives, especially his own.

He developed a mindset that if he was ever caught or shot, it would be all right. He was subconsciously acting out his suicide thoughts. This was the time that he began selling drugs, partially to feed his habit but mostly to strengthen the likelihood of achieving his death wish.

After some time, he was caught by authorities, detained at Camp Crame, and tortured. If not for the influence of his grandfather, he would have gone straight to jail. Somehow he was freed instead.

This brutal episode did not completely deter him from drugging. He still took drugs on and off. He would find it in himself to stop for some time but would always find reasons to resume the habit.

In 2007, when Vince was going through the painful process of separation with his wife, he returned to drugs full-time.

By 2008 he reached a point wherein he was busted in three different cities all in the same month. This was when his family decided to put him in SELF for his first program.

Roughly 18 months into the program, he reached the Reentry phase. At that point he became impatient and arrogant, thinking he was ready to rejoin the outside world. He believed he had all the tools and coping mechanisms needed to stay sober should he be faced with temptations and triggers.

The relapse came in 2013. Vince was faced with a combination of triggers and temptations he could no longer fend off or ignore. In May 2015, he was brought back to SELF for a second chance.

Treatment and Rehabilitation

During his second program, Vince was very open. He was cooperative right from the start and had zero reservations about being readmitted to the program.

This was evident when he managed to open up about a core issue he had suppressed that was buried deep in his subconscious as the trauma was too much to handle.

Listening to senior residents share their testimonies in the Evaluation and Motivation Unit triggered memories of the past. The longtime secret that he hadn’t been able to entrust to anyone rose to the surface.

Finally, he decided to open up to the SELF family about what really happened to him as a child: Vince had been given toys by a neighbor in exchange for sexual acts done to him.

Vince had never realized there was something wrong. Instead, what he developed was the thought that it should be kept secret so he could continue enjoying the perks of having toys.

This idea dawned on him when the neighbor’s nanny came into the room, and his abuser hid him in a closet.

The incident led him to think that if anyone ever found out about things, he would no longer have new toys to play with.

The abuse stopped only when the family transferred to another place.

Breakthrough

When he went down to the Primary Program, Vince had no trouble adjusting to the new culture.

Things were different from the last time he was in SELF. He was pleasantly surprised with the change and became more open and receptive.

He decided to fully trust the Program and thus reached a breakthrough.

After opening up about his sexual abuse experience, he felt empowered and was finally able to admit not ever grieving his father’s death.

Then came the first Family Encounter with his mother, a truly monumental event. Full healing began for both as there were no longer any secrets.

His mother gained a better perspective on what had gone on with him, which allowed her to be even more helpful in his recovery process.

Finally, he made the decision to ask for a Family Encounter with his daughter and son. He had always been close to them and to protect them they were not told why he was away from home.

The meeting was very emotional but in the end his children also declared that they would still accept and love him.

Turning Point

On his first day off as a Senior, Vince took an immense leap. He finally faced the urn of his father in their living room.

He had previously been unable to as much as look at it since his father died. With this, he began the process of forgiving himself and doing everything he could to heal.

This included opening up to people he trusted and looking for more people to trust.

The months flew by and when the time came to submit his Career Proposal for the Aftercare phase, he applied for admission to the SELF Practicum Internship Program (SPIP) under the Kitchen Unit.

Given his passion for food and cooking that runs in his family, he earned the job. He went on to extend his original contract and he is still working in the Kitchen to this day.

During this time, he was chosen to undertake SELF’s Facilitator Training Program. He passed this with flying colors, earning the much coveted Program Facilitator badge.

Conclusion

The part of the TC Philosophy that goes, “Until I confront myself in the eyes and hearts of others, I am running.” is especially apt in the case of Vince.

His decision to open up and allow the treatment program to fully work for him really made the difference this time around.

He has settled down and is comfortable with his recovery and sobriety, having finally come to terms with the death of his father, the separation with his wife and, most of all, his childhood trauma.

“It really feels so good to be at home again,” he avers.

He is ready to start anew with ever supportive mother and sisters, who never wavered in their love and support. Throughout his journey in recovery, they were always by his side and never left.

When he began rekindling his relationship with his children, they all helped make the process smoother.

Vince is presently serving as a resident-staff of SELF, a fine addition to the roster of recovering dependents who serve as role models in the community and inspire others to hold fast and continue with their own journeys.

By | 2018-04-02T11:53:22+00:00 April 2nd, 2018|Categories: Clinical Case Studies|0 Comments

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