I have always contemplated why God “blessed” me with such defects including a highly addictive personality and a chemically imbalanced brain which causes deep depression. Here at Beit T’Shuvah I have learned the appropriate coping skills to not only live with these defects but to move forward towards a balanced and successful life.
I am in Beit T’Shuvah for a gambling addiction, which is an insidious and morbid disease. If I were to keep gambling it would take me down a torturous path with absolutely no return mentally and physically. Throughout my gambling career I lied, cheated, manipulated and stole from the people who loved and cared about me the most. This included my immediate family and close friends. Being in the trenches of horror for so long I realized I needed more help and discipline than a 12-step program can provide me. After doing extensive research, I had heard about Beit T’Shuvah through a family friend. Beit T’Shuvah is the only in-patient treatment center to deal with problem gambling in the state of California.
In May 2010 I walked through the doors and immediately felt as if I was “at home”. After only living at Beit T’Shuvah for a few weeks, I had already had a sense of warmth, understanding and security from both the staff and residents alike. This was a very unfamiliar and foreign situation for me. Especially associating with 120 different personalities with various addictions.
My very first Shabbat service at this recovery center was a contributor to me emotionally feeling for the first time in months. Amazingly, I was receptive to the enjoyment of Shabbat services. It was like I was sitting at a blues concert with Rabbi Mark (who adds a lot of chutzpa and excitement to services). Both current and past residents/ staff members produce all of the music. I have willingly gone to Shabbat services every Friday and Saturday for the past four months and loved every minute of it.
One of the most spiritual experiences I’ve had, which was an honor to be a part of, was the Shavuot service (commemorating the anniversary of the day God gave the Torah to the entire Israelite nation assembled at Mount Sinai). We sang, enjoyed an in-depth education about the Torah and had an extremely unusual bonding experience composed of our community embracing the Torah being wrapped around all of us at 6am after being up all night.
I then had an epiphany. Even though we struggle with various addictions we are there for only one purpose. That purpose is to recover with friends and be a positive attribute to society. When one resident is in trouble, we as a community sacrifice our own time to help out. For example, one resident who has a sentencing coming up got at least thirty letters written to the probation office on his behalf and is expecting at least forty of us to accompany him to court to lend support at his sentencing.
This is what Beit T’Shuvah is all about, selflessness, community and recovery. I am getting the tools, wisdom and spirituality; I need to progress and to learn how live independently once again.