“I was in a constant cycle of me, me, me, and that’s all it consisted of. I didn’t care who I hurt, who I stole from in order to get high.”
Tim O’Neil had two priorities – himself and his addiction.
He used drugs to deal with feelings of shame; shame from believing he was never enough and, ironically, shame from his addiction.
“I was on the streets, lost in a lot of shame and guilt, lost in my addiction and didn’t know another way to deal with it other than run and use more drugs.”
The shame from his addiction kept him from connecting with his family. Disconnecting from loved ones only resulted in more shame and in turn, “I used drugs to cover up that pain.” Tim was caught in a downward spiral.
He isolated himself, using a tough façade to mask his shame. “I used to do all kinds of horrible stuff to people. I didn’t care about anyone’s feelings.”
Tim’s life revolved around drugs.
“I was all into myself…stealing, robbing people, whatever I could do to get high. Using excuses and hurting people, people who were trying to reach out to me, who I didn’t even know I was hurting because I was so lost in my addiction.”
Eventually, not even the drugs were able to numb Tim’s pain and he hit rock bottom. “The lowest point was not having anyone around me.”
“It felt like I was not worthy of living, not worthy of loving.”That’s when he came to the Mission.
At the UGM Men’s Shelter, a friend asked him to join the recovery program. “I was like, I don’t have anything to lose. I thought I was coming in just to get clean.”
Instead, Tim experienced a whole new approach to life.
UGM LIFE Recovery stands apart from many rehabilitation programs because of its holistic approach to healing. Not only do individuals’ deal with their addictions, but with the spiritual, emotional, and psychological causes underlying their addiction.
For Tim, that meant he could no longer run from his shame. “The biggest thing that helped me in recovery is being truthful, not sugar coating stuff, and working on my problems.
“Even though it’s been a journey – hard, emotional work that comes along with the program – I believe it’s beneficial.”
Tim is learning the importance of not isolating himself as he has done in the past.
“Knowing that I’m not on my own, knowing that there’s help here. I feel like I’m still here because people embrace me…talking about my problems, taking my masks off…It’s helping me, getting me outside of myself.”
Surrounding himself with support has drastically changed Tim from the self-focused loner he used to be.
“I’m not always the tough guy; I’m a soft caring individual. I’m not the violent person that I was brought up to be…Now I’m a person who speaks the truth and who cares for people.
“It’s not all about me anymore, it’s all about helping other people in whatever way I can.”
Tim has also realized he’s passionate about caring for animals. He recently finished his business practicum in the supportive environment at LynnDee’s Grooming and Dog Training and will be working toward becoming a certified dog trainer in the coming months.
In the past, Tim’s addiction limited his life, but now, his world is widening. He’s working, reconnecting with family, discovering his true identity, and surrounding himself with support.
“I have reasons to live now, I have reasons to have a happy future. I have reasons to have a happy life. I don’t have to live anymore in anger, in shame, in regret.”
You brought Tim out from the narrow scope of his addiction to a life with purpose and community.
“I couldn’t have done it without God, through UGM. They’ve given me nice, warm shelter, food, recovery, support…a sense of purpose in life.”
Watch more of Tim's story here: https://www.uniongospelmission.org/Tim
Tim is now an employee at the UGM Downtown Thrift Store. You may see him when dropping off donations. If you do, be sure to give him a shout and a word of encouragement!