My name is Michael Murray and I am the current senior resident of the Mann House. I am currently in my sixth month of an eight month journey here in the house. The foundation built here will continue to be built upon block by block, nail by nail, for as long as God allows. I am blessed to have been able to come to the Mann House and as I look back to my first day, I can see how far I have traveled down the path of proper living.
I have learned many life skills and spiritual lessons in my stay. The first is the power of a group of people with direction. I have been shown how to work as a team to accomplish large scale tasks during our nightly chores and Sunday’s gratitude work around the house. I have learned that ups and downs are a normal part of life and that I can grow through the downs and enjoy the ups. The earth is not flat, there are mountains and valleys. So is it in life. I have learned to be honest with myself and others. If I make a mistake, I own up to it and accept the consequences. I don’t have to cover up my imperfections; I have to expose them so they can be dealt with. I have learned the importance of discipline. I used to do what I felt like doing.
Now, I exert effort into doing what is right, regardless if I feel like doing it. I see the importance of journaling, as it is a review of the day that shows me what I need to change. I have learned compassion and that my experience can help others inside this house, in AA, and also in the community. I have learned to set and meet goals. I used give myself away in order to please others so they may accept me. Now, as long as I am true to the Lord and myself, it’s okay if people don’t accept me. Sometimes rejection means that I am doing the right thing. To sum up my experience, I have learned that I have a lot to learn and it will always be that way.
I came to the Mann House the weekend of July 4, 2005 after spending 28 days in a treatment center. The circumstances that led me to inpatient treatment and a recovery house for chronic alcoholics were much the same circumstances that lead most people like me to seek help. I absolutely loved to drink alcohol, and at the end, I also loved heroin.
I fell in love with alcohol in my late teens. For me, the drink was a very important social lubricant. I couldn’t function in social situations without drinking. I spent my early twenties working in a bar. I fell in love with the bar scene almost immediately. I made a lot of money and the social awkwardness that plagued me during my teens melted away. I met a lot of people in the bar that were involved with prescription drugs, and I began to use those in addition to the drink. My addiction progressed and during the last two years of my active alcoholism, I became an everyday opiate addict, resorting to the needle at the very end.
When I showed up to the Mann House I was 30 days sober, scared and the social awkwardness had returned in full force. The company of my housemates in early recovery offered me some relief, but I was still very apprehensive. I was fortunate to get plugged into Alcoholics Anonymous pretty early on in my sobriety and further, to get plugged in with people in A.A. who were active in service work, and ambitious about helping other Alcoholics. I got a sponsor who pushed me through the steps and within a short time I began to feel at home at the Mann House and the obsession to drink and shoot heroin had been lifted.
For me the Mann House provided a great home in those precarious early months of sobriety. It provided me with a strong base from which to get plugged into AA and find recovery. And that is exactly what happened. Through working the twelve steps I developed a relationship with a God of my understanding that solved my problem. I made amends for my past wrongs, began carrying the message of A.A. to the best of my ability, and trying to practice those principles that I learned as a result of going through the steps.
Today my life is not at all what I would have ever expected it to be. As a result of practicing the twelve steps, I have been able to repair damaged relationships with my family and become a better member of that family. Sobriety has also afforded me the opportunity to go back to school and in two weeks I will be graduating from Towson University. I inherited the ambition to help people from my sponsor and have found a job which will put that ambition to work; teaching social studies, beginning next fall, in inner-city Baltimore. The greatest thing about my life today is that I do not have to drink or shoot heroin. Sobriety for me used to mean restlessness, irritability and discontentedness. I was never able to stay sober nor did I really want to. As a result of the actions I have taken in A.A., I not only have found sobriety, but I have found happy contented sobriety, which I never thought was possible.
When I got to the Mann House on October 1st, 2008, I was a fried, broken, maladjusted almost 50 year old baby inside a man’s body. As it is written in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, “I was in full flight from reality” and my friend Mike Kirby says “I wasn’t coming in for a landing anytime soon.”
One of the requirements for me to reside at the house was to keep a daily feelings journal. My director and counselor, Greg Haywood, told me that keeping a journal would help me to track my feelings and my growth in recovery. So, every morning I’d get up between 5:00 and 5:30 am, sit in the dining room, and begin to write events and feelings from my previous day. I would also log what meeting I attended and the number of days I had been in the Mann House.
Today, I have been living out of the house for one year. I still journal every day. I can reflect back for the last 20 months where I was and compare it to where I am today in my recovery. In other words, I can track my growth. Over the years, I believe the Mann House has both helped and saved the lives of many men. I am one of them. When I arrived at 14 Williams Street in 2008, no institution or human being was willing to take the risk of housing me, except the Mann House. And for that, I will always be grateful.
Mann House Alumni
Being the manager at the Mann House for the last year has provided an opportunity for me to give back what was freely given to me. It has also created a wonderful growth spurt in my own recovery. I was given the gift of this house in the mid 90’s and I believe my continued sobriety is attributed to that gift. I was provided and environment that allowed recovery to become second nature and was taught what it means to live life on life’s terms. Now, I have the pleasure of watching that same principle unfold in the lives of men that have also been given the gift of this house. I have only my Higher Power to thank for the miracles that unfold before my eyes and for that I will be forever grateful.