As most of you can guess, my name is Matt. I was born and raised in Bakersfield California. I come from a modest past, we were not rich people. We were not dirt poor either, but none the less my family and I struggled just as many of you have in your lives. I come from a broken home and a very disfunctional family. At a young age I suffered physical, and emotional abuse. At the same time I was being abused, throw a divorce, an eviction, and a terminally ill father into the equation, and you have a good idea of my childhood. I have some good memories, but the bad out-weigh the good. After we were evicted from our home and my parents divorced mom raised me and my brother on her own for about a year. We survived on her working and the much needed welfare we recieved. Mom re-married when I was 8 years old and her new husband moved us from a low class community to a rather nice one. The only problem was, dad was sick, on disability and living in section-eight areas on welfare. I was constantly bouncing back and forth from a nice area to a ghetto. Well, to say the least the ghetto attitude prevailed because I couldn't walk around dad's neighborhood with a suburban attitude. Growing up with 2 homes like that is confusing for a kid because in the midst of all the problems you can lose your identity. By the age of 12/13 I was doing drugs, drinking, and selling reefer at junior high school. I never got caught because I knew when I was being watched so I would stop. I was manipulative. My alcohol and drug abuse continued for years before I got a hold on it. I grew up watching my dad suffer, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor when I was 9. I watched the man I loved, suffer and slowly die from all the medication, radiation and complications from his Tumor. I could get into so many details about the things I saw and had to deal with because of his illness, but it would take pages, and pages of writing. After the sharp decline of Dad's health, he finally passed away 2 months after my 17th birthday. I practically grew up in a hospital, and me and dad had said our good-byes several times over the years, but when it finally came it was unexpected. There were rumors going around that my emotianlly abusive step-mother had something to do with his death, but that's only speculation. I don't want to drudge up those memories right now. I continued my self-medication by smoking pot everyday and getting rip-roarin' drunk on the weekends. I had been on Zoloft since age 15 to curb my depression and my temper, but I quit taking that stuff at 17.
I had always been a little thug, but as I got older it escalated. It went from smoking pot and drinking beer to crystal meth and liquor. As the drugs got harder my problems got worse. By the age of 18 my step-dad kicked me and mom out of his house and divorced mom because he didn't want us anymore. Back to the ghetto we go! I ended up running around in the streets with some rough dudes, felons, thugs,dope dealers and gangsters. All around mean people. I turned into one of them. I participated in things that I cannot speak about. I carried a sawed off shotgun when my friends weren't using it. I looked for trouble. I beat people up and I got beat up a couple times. I went to jail for a DUI and wrecking a car in somebody oleander bushes in front of their house. I have tattoos I "earned" and a nice scar on my face from a fist fight.(yea I lost that one!)
The thing that really turned me around was having a 12 guage shotgun pointed at my face from about 5 or 6 feet away. That'll put some sense into ya!
After that I moved to a different town with my mom, Bakersfield was nothing but trouble and always getting worse. Now at the age of 22 I find myself surrounded by messianic believers and I am learning more than I ever thought possible! I have been here and living this way for about 6 months and I will never go back to where I came from! A big part of what circumcised my heart was Sukkot. At Sukkot I experienced a huge eye-opener. I finally realised there is a creator, and he loves me enough to show me his truth! ME OUT OF ALL THE PEOPLE IN THE WORLD, A LOW LIFE THUG! Wow that blows my mind! I love my Sabbath every week and all of my festivals. It makes me feel so free inside. I no longer suffer from depression and I am sober and drug free! I gave up my former life and now dedicate myself to learning, discipline,and living life for Yahshua Ha'Mashiac! I would now like to give a toast to all the survivors out there! Keep survivin' brothers and sisters!

Thanks everybody!
-Big Matt