Hello my name is Damian I am 40 years old I come from Halifax. I arrived in Kendal’s Cenacolo 17 months ago. I had a good upbringing together with my sister but through my childhood I found it hard to make friends especially during my school life and even at young age I did not like myself so I decided to make friends by being the class clown, that way I would get the attention and be popular among them because I did not want to be bullied or teased but in some cases I was bullied and my way of dealing with it was to hurt and bully someone weaker than me.

After I left school that’s when everything started to change (e.g.: jobs, new friends and new life style). At the age of 19 I experimented with the small drugs ecstasy, speed and later on in life I found cocaine. I thought, this is it, I have found what I was looking for. I felt good, I felt confident with myself, a different person. I made a lot of friends and most of all I felt loved not just within myself but with everyone. It started off as a bit of fun but gradually I got myself deeper and I could not get out. I started to fund my habits using my rent money stealing from my parents. My behaviour started to change drastically. I took advantage of everyone who loved me so I could feed my habits even though I wanted to change  and to break this vicious cycle. I started to go to the alpha group near where I lived to find peace and also to find Jesus but at some point I decided to stop going because I did not want to change, I felt scared.

Later on in life I met someone and I thought getting married would have changed me. We had a child, we would have sorted everything out because I saw that my friends who used to do drugs with me had kids and got married and their lives changed completely. Seeing this I had a lot of envy and resentment towards them because no matter what I did or do nothing changed (e.g. marriage, having children and being a father). I realised now it was not enough for me, I wanted something more so I carried on taking drugs. I hurt my family causing pain and hurt along the way.

The breakthrough came in 2018 when I returned to the alpha group and in a short period of time the people there got to know me better, I started to open up about my problems but because I was still using they decided to help me and I can still remember what they said to me  “ you need help!!” I was shocked and surprised by what they said because not even my parents, my wife, ex partners, all my friends never mentioned anything like this to me but I can truly say now that it saved my life. Thank you. It did not stop there because I had not money, I could not afford the documents I needed to get Cenacolo in Kendal also I did not fancy going to Ireland because I have no passport so I decided to take a big leap of faith and try the Kendal house. In the mean time I managed to speak to Deacon John from my local parish church and also shared my problems with him and the situation I was in about Cenacolo and during this time I made a close relationship with him and he helped me with what I needed to get me to Kendal. I owe him a lot of gratitude, thank you.

Since I have been in community I have realised that it is giving me back my life, making me feel alive again also my confidence was shattered when I arrived here, but slowly, slowly  I managed to feel confident again giving me many opportunities not just healing me from my addiction or learning about myself but the community has taught me many different kinds of work which I have never thought I would be able to do. The biggest thing is trust. Over the months the community trusted in me to drive a vehicle and to be in charge of the house when the responsible was temporarily out or away. For me taking on these responsibilities was a big step in my walk because I used to run away from my responsibilities (e.g. being a father, having kids, marriage) I appreciated the effort in pushing me to change. Thank you for this.

I have been in Community 17 months and I have got to say I have seen many miracles and blessings especially seeing my parents happy and at peace within themselves because all those years ago I caused pain, sufferings and tears and they are still supporting me and to have the embrace with them at the Open Day was a very special moment especially with my dad. To see my dad smiling and in tears and I have not seen him before like this. I had an emotional moment with my sister too during the last Open Day in May, we both let everything out even our tears. I even wrote a letter after the Open Day asking for forgiveness and to heal our relationship between us. I wanted to do this for a long time but I was in the darkness. The community has given me this opportunity to heal our relationships and to my parents too. Also, the community has given me the chance to speak to my son once a month. I realised now this has given me the foundations I need to build my relationships with him because in the darkness I have never spoken with my son over the phone because I felt uncomfortable speaking. I made excuses not to ring because I was selfish, but now I can see how much I have changed and appreciate the special gift I have received.

I am really grateful to Mother Elvira for giving me this opportunity to start my life again, to be a better son, father and brother. Without her Yes I would not be here now. Thank you for my brothers here in Kendal for helping me, for pushing me and most importantly teaching me to live in the truth. Thank you to everyone who helped me to get into Cenacolo. Thanks be to God for the opportunity to feel alive again and to know who are my true friends and at last to have the peace that I have lost years ago in the darkness.