Stef’s Story

A great sense of relief came over me, when my journey with Serenity Renewal for Families began.

I was a very broken man full of anxieties, daily panic attacks, living in constant fear of everything. I lost all socializing skills or even the drive to leave the house. I’d been sexually abused as a minor, beaten over and over again by a sibling and his crew, then in later years suffering all the same abuse from my partners I chose to be with. They lied, betrayed, belittled, took advantage of, been beaten by, the list just never seemed to end. It’s tough to put into words all that I have been through. I was left on the curb with nothing and having to start all over again so many times. It is thanks to Serenity Renewal for Families, and donors like you, that the direction of my journey has changed.

I was born in a very loving family, dinner every Sunday with grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins, we attended church, had everything we needed and much more… I was outside the home at a very young age that my story of despair started. As time went on and traumas kept occurring, I ended up picking up my first drink at the age of 12. As a “product of my environment”, it soon become regular use of drugs and alcohol. As I grew older, I entered relationships, lost relationships, changed jobs thinking things would be better, changed houses, apartments thinking things would be better. Everything I seemed to chase and work real hard for at some point always came to an end, accompanied by abandonment, betrayal, and a great deal of loss. I call them rock bottoms but I always got through it with time and alcohol, but I was never really dealing with anything and carrying so much blame for it all … rinse and repeat for 25+ years as they say.

In June of 2010, I met a woman through a mutual friend, and I fell hard for her. She seemed to have it all figured out and hey, she liked me. In March of 2011, I made the decision to leave Ottawa to be with this person in her province and I moved into her place, sold off a lot if not most of my things and here I was with a woman of my dreams in a new place, a new beginning. I thought, “this time I made it…”

April 2016, a week after my 41st birthday … she broke up and left never to be heard from again. I found out it was all fraudulent and I crashed hard, A rock bottom like no other, pain and anguish I would not wish on anyone, shell shock PTSD to follow, the depression was intolerable, the feelings of worthlessness, the shame and guilt once again that I am a failure so what’s the point of staying here… 

About a week after she left I walked into AA and started my journey in recovery. When I first went in I was entering on the grounds that I will take this course and prove to my wife that I am a great man and that I don’t have a problem. By some miracle after the first ten minutes in I knew I was in the right place for me. My journey for myself begins. I attended meetings, every single day, sometimes two or three if they had them, all over the entire west island of Montreal, conventions, potlucks and so on. I was feeling good but was still very depressed. I trusted no one so even though I was not alone I felt very much alone. Indeed, in a province with zero family or friends and at this point only those in the fellowship seemed to understand me, and one day at a time began.

Three years into my sobriety I was still very depressed, alone, felt worthlessness like I’ve never felt. In the fellowship it seemed like everyone was happy and loving life. I was still by myself in a lonely chair, still not feeling like I fit in. I’m different than all of them, nobody likes me and the list of self hate continued daily. I’ve been to some dark places I didn’t think the human body can go to, yet I had front row seats to this pit of despair. This heavy weight of depression and the suicidal thoughts, talking myself off the ledge so many times. Even though I was sober and in just a little bit better place than where I was when I was in my disease. This was definitely a true rock bottom.

I was asked to share at a speaker meeting and, as my duty, I did. My share wasn’t full of rainbows and butterflies. A fellow member heard my share and thought I might benefit from this organization or foundation or whatever you want to call it – they called it Serenity Renewal for Families. So I took the information and went home. He hassled me with love every week to see if I called. I said no, I was in fear of myself and the world. I couldn’t pick up that phone, however with love and support he helped me make that call and I was immediately welcomed and enrolled in my first workshop. Now at this time I am off work due to a severe back injury, covid pandemic is in play and I’m good but not repaired or recovered by any means, still bouts of depression, self pity, self loathing and just not a fan of me or life itself…

This wonderful woman answers my call, didn’t ask me any questions to qualify, no applications to fill out to see if I qualify, none of that intrusive nonsense, just pure hearted, pure loving of all humans. How can we help you and when would you like to start. A great sense of relief came over me, and then my Journey with Serenity Renewal for Families began.

I have a lifetime debt to all of you here at Serenity Renewal for Families. A debt that I could never repay for what you all have done for me and the man that stands before you today sharing his story. I believe I am finally the true version of myself I was always meant to be. I still have work to do, I still have a passion for digging into my past and learning all the reasons why my life went the way it did. I could not do any of this without what I’ve learnt from Serenity Renewal for Families, the support you give to anyone and everyone, the way the format is and how it all works one day at a time. During the workshops I met lots of people who couldn’t afford to pay but were feeling as blessed as I was that Serenity Renewal for Families made sure people could get the help they were looking for. It is thanks to generous donors like you that they can continue to do this. Thank You!

Today is a complete 180 to the life I once was living, through the constant workshops that I couldn’t get enough of them. The change in me during the process is incredible. Today I stand tall, straight, I have my confidence in myself back, My insecurities and self esteem have been raised considerably, I have little to no anxiety, I am focussed, I think things through and always try to do the right thing even when it is tough to do. I have developed healthy boundaries, I am no longer a door mat to others, I have become a man of honour, integrity, respect and peace. I take things one day at a time. I have been able to tackle all the majors in my past life seeing what I am responsible for and what others are that I don’t have to carry the full weight. I keep my side of the street clean. As tough as it is at times, I try real hard to stay out of drama or negativity. I am focused on the positive and all the rewards it brings just by doing the work which I have learned from Serenity Renewal for Families.

Since beginning with Serenity Renewal for Families I have had some tough times however they are just materialistic and the facilitators in the workshops have taught me and have given me the tools to tackle any situation or circumstance that happens to fall on my lap. I deal with them maturely and look at all solutions properly and it’s been a great ride thus far. I have recently started a relationship with someone who would have never been with the old version of myself, She seems real so that’s a great start. “She’s one of us”, I say to my friends, not the alcoholic part but the emotions part due to her upbringing. In December 2021, just before Christmas, I lost my income from workman’s compensation without my knowledge it was coming to an end.

As tough as this has been it’s everything I learned at Serenity Renewal for Families that has given me the courage and strength to not let that stop me. I was just offered a position at a huge company that is bigger than I could have ever imagined with unlimited chances at growing within the company, the potential is endless.

So today I am grateful for being referred to such an incredible organization, to be able to stand tall and know who I truly am today, the gifts and rewards I continue to receive, all of it is because of Serenity Renewal for Families.

There is a Step in the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous that says:

“Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity”

…….I do believe in a power greater than myself; I believe Alcoholics Anonymous got me sober.

But I believe It is Serenity Renewal for Families that has restored me to sanity.
You saved this man’s life.

I am forever grateful to you all!

Thank you for saving me…

Please be generous and make a gift to Serenity Renewal for Families so that other people like me can get the love and support we need through all of the programs they offer.



P.S. Please make your donation today. Thanks to an anonymous donor, the first $10,000 is being matched.

Please make your gift today, by mail, on-line by clicking here or if you prefer call Neil at 613-784-9754 to donate by credit card over the phone.