One of my beneficiaries said you spoke into his life – you said things no one has ever said before and you helped him understand.
I believe God wants to use you in this hour to speak into people’s lives to bring hope and healing. God uses us to speak to those in darkness, those in chains – and show them a way out. God says if we will open our mouth He will fill it.
People are desperate in this hour. I believe God is looking for those He can speak through. We can’t underestimate the power of God. When we reach out to others – we are tossing them a life preserver. The greatest power is hope.
People need courage to change – they need someone to come alongside them to make the transition. Just one person can make all the difference. Many of the people we see are forgotten people – neglected and abandoned. God has not forgotten them – He loves them – always has – always will.
God will speak through us today to bring hope and healing to wounded souls.
God bless you.
To Whom It May Concern,
My name is Diane, I am 43 years old. Sadly to say, I have been using drugs and alcohol for over half my life. I have held down a job and never been fired from a job, let alone never let drugs interfere with my work. I was a functional drug user, but I had no real reason for my drug abuse, so I thought. I figured my life was ok. I knew I could do better, but was settling for what I had, not understanding why I felt all alone. I was told that that is the way addicts are supposed to feel. I didn’t start getting into trouble with the police until 1996, the year my mom passed away. But lets not forget about the five or six drunk driving offenses I got back in the eighties. In and out of rehabilitation centers, counseling, and my share of probation officers. I pretty much have heard it all. Nothing really clicked. I knew there was something missing. I wasn’t going to settle for “ONCE AN ADDICT, ALWAYS AN ADDICT”. Being made to believe that I was less than so called, “NORMAL PEOPLE”, I figured they were right. I would always be looked down upon, and didn’t deserve to fit in and live a happy sober life because I was an addict.
Until I was sentenced under Proposition 36, and met my counselor, Mr. Michael Oden, I didn’t realize that there was somebody out there that knew how I felt. My first meeting with Mr. Oden lasted about 45 minutes. That was a surprise in and of itself. Instead of a clod shoulder and a phony smile. I was greeted with a warm hand and somebody who understood. He wanted to know about my feelings! He asked me about my emotions!, were they being fulfilled and taken care of? What’s up with this, I thought, is this guy for real? Did he really care? The more we talked, the more comfortable I became. The one thing I always knew about myself is that something is missing. I never really felt complete. He knew that the minute I walked into the room. All these years I have been filling my emptiness with drugs and alcohol, not even knowing anything about me. “ONCE AN ADDICT, ALWAYS AN ADDICT”, that’s what I was and what I would always be. Mr. Oden wanted to know what made me tick and what I did to fill in the blanks when I was hurting and feeling lonely. I chose alcohol and drugs.
I have now been drug free since January 2, 2002. I struggled through it until I met Mr. Oden. I knew then that I was on the right track. I finally realized that my head wasn’t screwed up, I just forgot to put myself first. Now all we need to do is to get the word out there, and let people know that they are not all screwed up, that somewhere down the line they have been cheated out of something that the human psyche needs to survive. Like I said, I have been clean and sober for two years now, I feel strong about myself, knowing that there is somebody out there who knows how to guide me in regarding myself, and to reassure me that I’m not doomed with the label of being “AN ADDICT”.
My name is Ron, I’m 42 and have used drugs since I was 20 years old. I used to think that the reason I used was because I was “addicted” and because I had a “disease” I’ve now come to find out that this thinking was far from the truth. In fact, this kind of thinking probably did more harm than good. Through working with Michael Oden I feel major burdens have been lifted from me and my childhood and self-esteem is back .
Thank You Mr. Oden!!!
Dear Michael Oden
I don’t think you remember me at all. I was on Probation last year and saw you once because my Probation Officer wasn’t there. Anyways, the reason I’m writing you is because I wanted to thank you. We talked for a long time about my situation with my mom, my ex-boyfriend who was abusive, and my drug addiction.. You gave me the packet “If Drugs are the Answer, what is the Question?” Well, I wanted to thank you and let you know that because of you and what was in the packet, I was able to leave my abuser and get help for my addiction. I have 9 months clean, today. I’m engaged to a wonderful man and I have a great relationship with my mom today! Because without you I think I would be dead. I didn’t read the packet right away and your words didn’t sink in immediately but you planted the seed. I’m grateful to have met you and spent time listening to your wisdom. You saved my life and for that I am eternally grateful.
Thank you again,
All I can remember from a very young age was living everyday in fear and pain. At the age of five, I was already being physically and emotionally abused by my father on a daily basis. I and my sisters and step-mother lived in fear. Me and my sisters were constantly grounded and couldn’t go out other than to school. We were trapped. For the most part, we could hide it and not talk or tell anyone about it. At the age of eleven things were bad if not worse! I and my sisters started using Marijuana and alcohol to escape from the pain and as a way to cope with living and survive with my alcoholic and abusive Father. I remember him breaking plates over my head at the dinner table and beating me with his belt or fist. One night he grabbed me by the throat and stuck my head through the ceiling. My neck got caught and I was hanging from the ceiling. He left me there while my sisters grabbed at my ankles to pull me back down. I was still drinking and smoking weed to deal with the pain.
At the age of 15 things got really bad. At first he held me down on the floor by the throat choking me and at the same time punched me in the head about 10 times with a closed fist. I got up (I didn’t not fight or hit him back) but I looked him in the eyes and said to him are you finished and walked to my room. This made him angrier because I was used to the pain by now. A couple of weeks later I got in trouble for bad mouthing my stepmother. Instead of beating me, he went into the gun cabinet and instead of getting out a gun he got out a machete and tried to cut off my head. I blocked it with my left wrist which left a deep cut all the way to the bone. When we got to the hospital the police asked me how it happened. I lied and told them he was teaching me how to knife fight.
At the age of seventeen, he was working in the garage and caught fire by an explosion. The fire department and paramedics took him to the hospital where they flew him to the burn center in a helicopter. I saw him before they took him. He had third degree burns on over 90 percent of his body. During this time I was traumatized. I began to drink excessively and did whatever drugs I could get my hands on, including uppers and downers, cocaine, acid, etc., anything to escape reality again.
Two months later he died in the burn center. I continued using more heavily and in a short time I had a complete nervous breakdown. I was committed to a state hospital and would be in and out of these mental hospital for the next 20 years. Back then, it was a horrible place where they constantly shot me up with thorizine and hallidal among other drugs against my will, on a daily basis. I was court committed and they kept me there for a full year. I got out and one year later, my grandmother who had been like a mother to me died. I had been living with her for a couple of years now. I had another nervous breakdown and ended up back in the same state hospital for another 9 months. I could not properly deal with all this living hell so my alcohol and drug use got even worse instead of better.
During my 20’s and 30’s, I ended up in jail at least 15 times and ended up in one psychiatric hospital after another. I still could not deal with the pain of the abuse or the pain and grief of loss. In the hospital I was told I was manic depressive, psycho, bi-polar. They put me on one medication after another.
Finally, I was arrested for cocaine possession in 2005 and put on Proposition 36. It was then that I met my Probation officer Mr. Oden. During our initial meeting he asked me if I wanted to get a better understanding as to why I used drugs for an extended period of time. As we talked, he asked me about my past as a child and my teenage and adult life. He was the first person who got me to see that as child all I knew was neglect and abuse and that I didn’t get the emotional security I needed as a child. He helped me to see that the fear of my Father had still been with me all these years and that’s why I continued to use drugs and alcohol. This made a lot of sense to me. I had never let go of my past and he (my father) was still a factor in my life. I was still living in fear of him all these years later. He talked more and more with me. Mr. Oden made it clear to me that I didn’t have to use anymore over my father and that I never had to use again. I believed him.
After accepting this reality, I was able to start healing. Mr. Oden helped me to see that I could finally start to live my life without this demon (fear of my Father) ever hurting me again.
I can now start to live my life without fear and start to feel good about myself without the use of drugs. What a relief this has been. I feel much better now. I am very grateful to Mr. Oden for showing me he cared and wanting to help me. And he has done so!!
Thank you again.
-Mr. H (Abuse Victim)
PS: When we first met, Mr. H, was taking 6 or more forms of medication for his depression. By the time he ended his Probation grant he stated he was taking one form of medication. He stated that he didn’t need them anymore due to his coming to terms with his Father.
Date: Effective immediately
To: If it applies, apply; if not, let it fly
From: Your nephew, very possibly others too
Re: Unsettled issues
It’s amazing what thought, paper, pen and action can do to a person. One thing for sure is that it stats things moving forward, in my case its back to the future. As I began a new year, 2004, resolution to stop or at least decrease my bad drinking habits and drug use I soon realized that it was not going to be possible for a long period of time, if any.
You see, I am a 33 years old man that hand been holding back a little secret for over twenty years. This deadly secret is full of anger, resentment, remorse, hatred, and many other uncontrollable, irrational feelings. I’ve been using, abusing, and misusing alcohol and drugs for a very long time in order for me to escape those ugly feelings. Marijuana, cocaine, primo’s, sherm sticks, and speed gave all been a part of my life. Correctional institutions galore; Central and Los Padrinos Juvenile Halls, Sylmar, Afflerbaugh Baugh Camp, L.A. County Men’s Central Jail, Bezcailutz and Mira Loma Detention Centers, Pitches’ Honor Ranch(north, South, East, Max, Super Max), twin Towers, Chino Reception Center, and a few state prisons. Probation after probation, court appearances and fees, restitutions, tickets, fines, amount dues, bails, and a really messed up criminal and credit history were my lifestyle. Though I joined the Lennox 13 street gang when I was a little kid, this was something that I we never proud of. IN fact, it brought disgrace and embarrassment to my family.
Anyway, this little secret was that a close relative had traumatized me sexually, physically, mentally and emotionally. My aunt (yes, a woman) fucked up my innocent childhood and adult life. I was never able to talk to anyone about it, not even my own parents who were always wondering what the hell happened to their studious son. This fucking bitch used to give me Jack Daniels on the rocks, money, toys, and gifts and would take me to various places to shut me up be her aggressive authoritarian style is what I used to hate the most. Men, speak up if anyone has abused you in any way.
Now, DPO Michael Oden did something that Prop 36 counselors were not doing, that is, he wanted to know the truth behind my addictions. He really wanted to hear me in order t help me. I told him exactly how I felt about the rehab program, “coffee, donuts, and bullshit will only keep you sober for so long.” “Once an addict always an addict” is self –sabotage. A. A., N.A. and C.A. are good program but they impede self-sufficiency, self-control and most importantly an honest evaluation of your self-esteem.
Finally, ever since I bean telling Mr. Oden about my childhood abuse I’ve felt like a really big heavy burden has been taken off of my shoulders. And to let the truth be known, he was the first person I ever told about my situation. I feel better about myself, my family knows about my past, the secret and now my involvement in sexual trauma counseling and support group. I see a clearer, happier drug free future for my family and myself.
Thank you very much Mr. Oden,
-Anonymous Sexual assault survivor
FREE AT LAST
I’d like t begin my story by telling you how my life got turned upside down, mind you I’ve been in and out of prison, the county jail, probation after probation and other institutions.
These things took place because I used drugs. I’ve been to program throughout Los Angeles and nothing seemed to change.
As of the year 2006, I was placed under the supervision of Probation Officer Mr. Oden who has helped me more in the 6 months I’ve been with him then any other place I’ve been too. He helped me to understand that the issue was my past is what caused me to run to cocaine to ease the pain an escape the things of my past I didn’t want to face.
I can now talk about it because of the work Mr. Oden and I did to help me face the fact that as a child I had no male figure in my home to help me grow as a man. All I had was sisters and a mother who pampered me and gave me all the things I wanted. So, as I grew up I became depended upon that and felt if I did not receive what I wanted I would have what Mr. Oden called an adult tantrum. And the feelings that came with it would be the feelings of, “I’m not worth anything which in turn brought me anger and that it was my entire fault. I believed that I was not good enough. I was stuck in a child’s mind an as I grew older this became a problem because once I experienced that drug that made me feel better and forget about who I really am.
However, Mr. Oden and I dug deep within me and brought out what was really the problem and now I understand that don’t have to run from the problem or any other. I need to face these problems because it’s not my fault.
I now that I am not an addict but a person who is sort of like weak. When I say weak, I mean soft like a girl. I discovered through Mr. Oden that a lady can not show/teach a boy how to become a man and give that sense of strength.
Ever since Mr. Oden opened my eyes and gave me the understanding I don’t’ have to run anymore. I thank God for bringing me into contact with Mr. Oden and I also thank Mr. Oden for caring enough to help me to be FREE.
Now, I’m not haunted by my past anymore but in acceptance of it. I’m also not just clean but FREE.
Hello Mr. Oden!!
How is everything going with you? I hope you remember me.. I interviewed you a couple of weeks ago. I wanted to thank you again for your time at the interview. Like I said, it surprised me how willing you were to talk to me about your job. It was really a relief to know that not everyone has lost hope when it comes to probationers and that a more than "10% success rate" is actually possible. I am very interested in the way you are going about helping probationers under proposition 36. The seven step program you have decided to use makes a lot of sense and I would be very interested in being present at any orientations you have about your program and if posible, help you. I really believe that more probation officers should be more like you, interested in actually helping their clients overcome their problems, whether its drugs, alcohol, or any other issue that does not allow them to live at ease with themselves and society. The only way to do this is by showing probationers that there are still people who believe that change is possible. Anyway, I know you must be busy so I'll let you go for now. Hope to hear from you soon!!! Oh and, by the way, I got an 98/100 on the term paper! =D
Once again, THANKS!
April 10, 2003
To Whom It May Concern:
I would like to take this opportunity to give testimony that the process designed and used by Mr. Oden to determine my treatment protocol has proven highly effective.
This procedure included determining some core issues related to my personal interpretation of various childhood experiences. The method classifies each significant event and links them to specific emotions. Mr. Oden has shown me the parallel between my perception of these events and the behavior pattern.
I have bee facilitated my Mr. Oden’s insight exposing the core of many underlying reasons for my self destructive actions. I have learned the drinking of alcoholic and using drugs were merely symptomatic of deeper underlying problems.
As one of his clients, he as facilitated my personal growth and understanding and this process has proven important in the success of the Proposition 36 program.
As I commence in living a useful and fulfilling life, it is my hope that may others become the recipients of this method of case management.
April 3, 2003
Dear Mr. Oden
I’m writing this letter on behalf of the gratitude I’m feeling for all the hope you’ve given me.
As you are aware of the experiences I’ve suffered as a child, because of what happened between m parents, I grew up believing that I was worthless. My issues with abandonment left me in a lot of pain, which later turned into resentments and anger. I truly believed that no one cared, therefore, I didn’t care about myself.
When it came to authority figures there was absolutely no trust within me. I rebelled against society and turned by back on everything that was good. In the end I was lonely and alone. Drugs became my friend. I would medicate myself to keep from facing who I believed I was. I was hopeless, helpless and finally hit my bottom.
That’s when I was introduced to the 12 Steps Program. This program taught me about the process of recovery. It allowed me to become a part of a fellowship with other recovering addicts. The 12-Step Program has given me some tools to fight against my addiction, as well as, as support group I can call upon whenever I need someone to talk too. This is the family I never had, a place where I finally fit in.
But, even with all of that, there was still something missing deep down within me.
Then, Mr. Oden entered into my life! Previously, I mentioned I’ve always had a problem with authority figures. And as far as I was concerned, you were no different. I had prejudged you and I want to apologize for that. I so found out how very, very, wrong I was. At our first meeting you showed me how sincerely concerned you were. I became instantly interested in what you were sharing with me. You explained how I thought of myself as an addict. How that way of thinking was unhealthy and would lead me to behave as an addict. You explained how I needed to get to the root of my feelings, which lead me to using in the first place.
Once I was able to identify these feelings I then understood that what happened between my parents was not my fault. My only fault was carrying that burden and thinking of myself as worthless. My choices reflected my thinking. When I made the choice to use drugs I gave away my freedom to choose a good life for myself. If I consider myself and addict, that’s what I’ll always be.
Today, I am responsible for the live I choose to live. The only problems I have today are the one’s I create by taking responsibilities for the choices I make.
Finally, Mr. Oden, I, have a whole new outlook on myself. I know that I am worthy and today I have hope!! God Bless You!