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My name is Fabrizio and I’m twenty-seven years old.  I come from a “normal” family, in which I did not live any particular hardships. I’m the youngest of seven children. I remember that my parents, brothers, and sisters were always “busy” with work, and as a child I spent a lot of time at home alone, often seated on the sofa in front of the television.  This idleness caused me to fall into vices and false sense of freedom.  When I was ten, I started to drink in secret and smoke my first cigarettes, stolen from my father’s pack, to find the pleasure of adrenaline and disobedience and to satisfy my curiosity.

I started to steal money from home and to spend a lot of time in the streets, searching for pleasure in food and in front of the videogames in the bar.  From a very young age, all this caused me to form an alliance with evil and with lies, developing the contorted mentality of an “addict.”  I didn’t have real communication at home, partly because of the difference in age between my brothers and sisters and myself, which made me feel distanced from them, but I didn’t show them how painful this was for me.  I just pretended that everything was going well.  Outside of home, with my friends and at school, I searched to find my identity, but I saw that I was fragile, sensitive, and full of insecurity.  Because of this a wall of timidity and fear slowly began to grow inside me, and to escape the loneliness, I let myself be influenced and controlled by the things that the others did.

I hung out in the company of friends whom I believed to be stronger and original, and to be accepted I put on a mask of kid who was strong, clever, and daring.  At fourteen years old, I started to smoke joints and to drink, trying to find an identity with which I could hide all of my fragility.  Materially my parents gave me everything that I wanted and this was a crutch for me.  I grew up with the conviction that I would find my future ready and waiting for me “on a silver platter.”  Growing up, instead, I found myself without the foundations to build a true life.  I was a leaf in the wind, easily swayed, and I felt the emptiness of sadness, solitude and the inability to make concrete decisions about my future.

So, with the same spirit with which I smoked my first “joint” at fourteen years of age, I found myself at nineteen involved with cocaine and heroin.  I believed that I had found the solution for my problems.  These substances gave me the illusion that I was able to face the whole world, free of my fears, and I started to love this easy, pleasure-seeking lifestyle, in which I didn’t need to worry about facing the problems that life already presented me with at that age.  At home I always had something to hide. I was false and the lies became an integral part of my life.  One day, however, the unavoidable truth arrived: my father and mother realized that they had a son who was a drug addict.  Their attention and worrying started to suffocate and annoy me, so I decided to go and live in the big city, convinced that a change in environment and friendships would resolve the problem.

In the beginning it seemed like this.  I lived in the euphoria of the novelty of it all, and I was also doing well in the world of work.  But then the inability to be myself and to have stable, lasting relationships with the others, the interior solitude, and the feelings of emptiness and sadness, caused me to quickly fall flat on my face again, and this time worst than before.  I thank God that my parents were quick to help me, suggesting that I enter in Community.  At that at that moment it was help I did not want.  It was uncomfortable for me, but deep down, I felt that it was right.  Forced by the situations at hand, I started to attend the meetings for people who wanted to enter.  There I found guys with the same problems I had, who were able to understand what I was going through. I felt like we spoke the same language.
I entered in Community very angry and very bitter, still unable to admit and accept that I had failed and that I needed of a lot of help and support.  The first thing that touched me right from the very beginning was to see guys like me, with the same faults, praying in the morning on their knees in front of the Eucharist and then to be able to love each other.  The faithful and attentive presence of my “guardian angel,” the guy who took care of me in the beginning, was a concrete hope that I would be able to make it.  He spoke to me about his past experiences, which sometimes were worse than my own, and I saw him there, with light in his eyes, with the joy of giving of himself in work, friendship, and the prayer.  He gave me a lot of strength!

His concrete gestures of love to me made me reflect and from them the desire was born inside of me to have a life that was true and clean, to be able to fully live my day, immersing myself in the simple things, free of all the dependencies and, above all, free of myself.  I perceived that this was the right place to start anew, from zero, and to allow myself to be formed in life through the help of my brothers, respecting the rules, and respecting others and myself.  With the daily struggles, suffering, and sacrifices, I’m experiencing the interior freedom and true, pure, consistent joy that comes from God.

Thanks to the Community, I established a new and different relationship both with my parents and with my brother.  I see that through the prayer and the encounter with Jesus, I’m healing many wounds in my heart.  I’m learning through the work to value and develop my abilities, to use my gifts to serve others, and this makes me feel fulfilled, whole, and happy to be alive.  Today in Community I feel welcomed and loved for who I am, with my limits and my poverties, and this makes me feel free and peaceful, without the need to put on masks or be a certain way be accepted.  The Community is a school of life that builds me up and gives worth to my life.  I desire to thank God for this work of His, Mother Elvira for her courageous “yes,” and my parents who pushed me and helped me to undertake this walk.

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