Many who struggle with addiction die or go to prison. Yet, sometimes miracles occur. These are the stories of those miracles
In this episode, Isaac and his mother Rebecca tell the story of transformation from two different viewpoints.
My name is Isaac Mendiola. I’m 21 years old. My sober date is 10/22/19. So I have nine months. I had no idea this type of life was out here. I couldn’t really comprehend living a life without using.
My name is Rebecca Mendiola. I am Isaac Mendiola’s very proud mom.
My addiction, it just consumed everything around me, like myself, who I was, my family, my mom, most importantly.
He was really good at hiding it. So it had a good grip on my son, definitely. I had spent the past three years of a 24/7 fear for his life. It was a constant unwanted friend.
I forgot what it was like to wake up and feel happy I didn’t know what to do about it. I was just lost.
I remember him coming to sit at the table with his dad and I one day when we were just realizing that we were up against something that had control of our son and our family. I remember looking in his eyes and it scared the shit out of me because they looked like it was just dead. They were cold. He’s got beautiful blue eyes and they were not. I did not recognize who I was looking at.
I felt like everybody else had this blueprint for living life and I just couldn’t get it. I couldn’t get a hold on what life was about, what I was supposed to be doing. I feel like everybody can talk to people way better than I did. People made genuine friendships. I don’t know. It was terrible, man.
I get a phone call from John C. Lincoln Hospital saying that my son had shown up as a [inaudible 00:02:40]. He had been found down in a motel room. They had attempted CPR and he had been left with whoever he was there with. He had received two rounds of Narcan. They have to do a cardiac cath on him and just make sure that he’s not going to need a heart transplant or have heart issues the rest of his life.
I thought I was going to die doing drugs. I just thought mostly everybody did drugs the way I did. At one point, I was completely okay with it. I had no idea what recovery was or it was out there, there was a solution. I was honestly completely okay with it at the time.
That’s how sick he was with the arrest and then the overdose and just the behavior and how different of a person. He had become someone I didn’t recognize. Someone I definitely didn’t like.
I thought about it and then I couldn’t do it anymore. I was broke and just felt like crap. I told my mom. So I asked her to take me to detox. She did. I left detox after a week. I was like, “Yeah, I’m so [inaudible 00:04:10]. I feel great.” No program or anything. I got high the same day.
He spent a week there. It was really strange because we fought, I fought, really hard to get him into this rehab. Nothing I did worked. No matter who I talked to with my insurance company. No matter who I talked to there.
Isaac wanted to go and that, I think, as a mom or a parent of an addict is really, really hard because once you finally has someone willing to go, but then you can’t get insurance or anything else to listen and help, there’s not a word to describe the anger and the grief with that because it’s like, are you fucking kidding me? This is a life and death situation.
My mom took me to this drug counselor. This dude named Jason. It was the first time somebody talked to me with an understanding, like it was okay. They knew exactly how I was feeling, just feeling of being lost and hopeless and just not knowing what to do.
He was like, “Well, let’s check out this place. I know some really solid guys over there.” I was like, “What do you even mean by that?” I didn’t even know what that meant.
So he’s showing me the Cornerstone page. He’s like, “Look, there’s meditation, yoga, weightlifting.” And I’m like, “Dude, that sounds terrible right now.” I don’t want to do that right now, man. I feel like crap.
Then we hear about a gentlemen who is affiliated with Cornerstone, who used to work at this other rehab. They say to give him a call, he’s willing to talk to us.
Isaac had been at the house. I asked him to stay because I knew we were supposed to go to the other rehab the following day just to try again.
He’s like, “Mom, I can’t stay here tonight. I got to go.” He just looked horrible. I just thought either he’s going to die tonight or he’s just not going to show up and I’m just not going to see him either again or for awhile.
I was on the phone with Sead that morning and he’s telling me just come down. I was like, “But he’s not here yet.” He’s like, “That’s okay. Just come down. Come see what we’re about. Then if he does, when he does come back, you can tell him about it.”
We’re getting ready to hang up. He just gave me the address here. There’s a knock at the door and I just went, “Oh, sweet baby Jesus. It’s me Isaac.” And it was.
I tell him there’s the treatment center and then there’s this sober living component. He did not like that because he thought halfway house. They all do drugs at halfway house. They say they’re getting sober, but they’re not.
One morning, she’s like, “Hey, we’re going to go check this place out.” And I was like, “We’ll go check it out.” Then she’s like, “Okay, well we’re just going to go.” She was so nice about it and just didn’t want to say much.
So she talks about this too. I don’t know what came over me. I would not have gone. I just didn’t know what else to do. So I’m smoking heroin in her bathroom. She’s knocking and just being real nice like, “Hey, can we go?” And I’m like, “All right.”
I’m asking her before and I’m like, “What is this place like?” I was such a little prick. She has no clue about recovery or treatment or any of that stuff. She’s like, “It’s like a halfway house.” And I was like, “So it’s just a bunch of drug addicts getting high together.” I would have been okay with that, but that was my excuse to not dive into it.
I was trying to talk him down from that, saying no, it’s not like that. It’s not like that there. That’s what I’m being told.
She’s like, “Just go hear them out, please. Just please hear them out.”
We pulled up here and we sit in your office [inaudible 00:09:08], and Sead is there. I had this overwhelming feeling that it’s over. We are exactly where we need to be. He is exactly with who he needs to be. I had just peace, calm come over. And I just knew it.
It was wild. I talked with [inaudible 00:09:47]. It’s just the way you guys spoke about things. When I was talking to that dude, Jason, in a place of compassion and understanding, that moved me and I could tell it moved my mom too.
I remember asking you. You were like, “Do you have any questions?” And I was like, “Is this like a halfway house?” And you’re like, “Yeah, but no, one’s getting high here.” And I was like, “All right dude. You got me.”
What happens here, and then the 12-step community is that feeling of just being accepted and like it’s okay, man. I know what you’re going through. Here’s what we can do about it.
You hear all the stories of people that have gone to rehab and do really well. Something happens and they fall off the wagon and they have to go back. Then it’s finally their ninth rehab stay and maybe it’ll work this time. Maybe it won’t.
But I just knew in my heart, this was it. And I think I told you that and you told me to chill out a little bit. We’re just starting and it’s probably not and just be ready. But from then until now, he’s got almost 10 months. I think it’s the 22nd. It’s 10 months. He’s better than when he started doing drugs.
I just had this profound experience in my first day. I had some reservations at first, but just hearing the guys here, what they talked about and their understanding of life and they were. I was like, “Dude, I want that badly.”
I knew from day one when I had him and the promise that God made to me was that he was here to help and serve others. He could not have the type of impact on others if he had not gone through this. It just wouldn’t have happened. He wouldn’t have been able to fulfill his mission, what he is supposed to do here.
I’ve talked to him a couple times throughout all this. He seems most fulfilled and happy when he’s making connections with others and helping others.
Listening to the guys in the community in here, it taught me simple things like discipline and I can wake up in the morning like a normal human being.
So I can wake up at a normal time. I meditate and I pray. I’ve been doing that a lot lately, a lot more. I call my sponsor and then I call my family all the time. I called my mom, my dad just to see how they’re doing. That’s one of my biggest blessings from all this.
He’s just, to me, is a stunning human being. He’s got such a good heart. He’s a pleasure to be around. He can talk about anything with you. He’s not shy to come around the family. Each one of my family members have either had a visit from Isaac where he goes and physically just share space and time with him, which he never would have done before.
Or a phone call if they’re out of state or whatever. They will call me and just say, “I got to talk to Isaac today. And Oh my God, it was so neat to hear from him and to hear how he’s doing, but he really wanted to know how I was and what I was up to.”
To me, he was not ever like that. There wasn’t that interest in others and really wanting to make sure the people that he loves are okay.
He’s helpful. He’s thoughtful. He’s kind. And most of all, he’s present.
I just get to have a conversation and they get to talk to me about their problems because they listened and dealt with mine for so long. We just get to laugh and cry together. I get to be present physically, emotionally, all the above.