Father of two boys
Likes to listen music and go to library
Réjean, 59 years old
He didn't chose to be homeless...
I’m 59 years old. I was trained as an accounting technician. I’ve always worked in accounting, in accounting offices or in my own business. I have been divorced since 2013. I have two sons, one is 32 years old and the other is 34. I have three sisters and three brothers. My mother is still alive. She is 89 years old. My father died in 1970. I’m still in contact with my whole family.
I have problems with compulsive gambling, and some alcohol consumption. But, my biggest problem, for 17 years now, has really been gambling.
I’ve never really lived on the street. Since 2010, I’ve done treatment programs at various place, like residential centres, centres for at-risk men, crisis centres, rooming houses, hospitals, etc. And during in-between times, I slept at friends’ houses. So, I have been homeless for about six years.
It’s quite difficult to be homeless. You lose your sense of belonging when you have to move all the time. Having problems at work or losing a job, having friends who cut ties because of my gambling or drinking problem…these things also have an impact on self-esteem. Even if I was staying with someone or at a treatment centre or housing facility, I had to leave at a certain point. So, I can say that this makes us fragile, vulnerable in terms of safety. Leaving treatment or a hospital and having nowhere to go is really not pleasant.
When you spend the majority of your income on gambling or drinking, there’s not much left for the essentials. Sometimes I only ate once a day or once every two days…and I usually bought what was least expensive, which was not as good for my health.
I came to Maison du Père because I had run out of resources. I had done several treatment programs already and that didn’t seem to be a good solution. A treatment program has a set timeframe and when it’s finished, you have to leave. So you have to find somewhere else to go. There aren’t many reintegration centres in Quebec and I had no idea where to go.
When I was told about Maison du Père, I had some biases, partly because I only knew about the Shelter. I didn’t know that they also had reintegration programs.
Before deciding, I talked with a social worker who took the time to explain how the program worked.
In the end, it seemed really interesting to me. Everything is well-structured. The staff are skilled and always ready to help and various activities are provided.
I have lived here for two and a half months. I still go through some challenging times in terms of abstaining from gambling and drinking. I live with Tourette syndrome and so I have obsessive compulsive issues, which can make certain hardships more difficult to overcome. I’ve had several relapses since I’ve been here, but at least I’m able to talk about them now.
I feel good at the Maison. I feel respected. I don’t feel judged. Right now, what I need most is supervision so I can avoid relapses. I need support and time to get back in shape, to get myself together to go back to work. By the way, Maison du Père has lots of employment resources. I’m optimistic about the future. I participate in many activities like pool, bowling and outings to The Great Explorers, IMAX, etc. Plus, we eat well here! All of that helps me a lot.
It hasn’t been a smooth path. It hasn’t gotten easier yet. I’ve had mental health problems for a long time, which caused me to start drinking. That was really hard because there were relationships with friends that were broken. In terms of my family, there has been lots of sadness, lots of disappointment…when you get into drinking, you become a manipulator, a liar. You may even do things that are against the law to get what you want. This really tarnishes the image we have of ourselves. It triggers lots of guilt and shame, lots of inner pain, suffering and anxiety. And then you find yourself alone because of your lifestyle and what is done to people around you. And it’s a vicious cycle that makes you not want to see people anymore…It’s not easy, but I’m not a pessimist about this.
For the future, what I want first is housing. Then I want to find a job. Obviously, I also want to take care of my health, too. And then afterwards, I hope to get back to the activities I loved, the things I did before I started this. I think it’s a feasible pathway. You have to put the work in, be aware of your weaknesses. And with the supervision, the social workers here, it’s really positive.