Hi, I’m Domingo, and I’m a grateful believer in Jesus Christ who’s in recovery and struggles with being a product of a dysfunctional family. I struggle with people pleasing and the fear of not being liked by everyone.
I was born and raised in Orange County, California. My family attended church services every Sunday. We would stand up, sit down, stand up, pray on our knees, and afterward drive to the swap meet. This was our tradition until I was 12.
Around that time, my parents were getting divorced. I noticed that I liked pleasing people; I would go out of my way just to please others. I would hate to say no to people out of fear they would stop talking to me or stop liking me. I did stuff for attention, including writing on walls and hanging out with gangs. I thought they liked me and had my back. The more I thought people liked me, the better I felt about myself. This behavior of mine went on throughout my teenage years. By this point, I was into the party scene. I used to love passing out party invitation flyers and throwing illegal house parties. I learned how to organize an event and promote it. I worked hard at promoting and getting the word out.
Becoming an adult and workaholic wasn’t by choice. I felt that I needed it. I would tell myself, “I am in control. I have a house. I’m not one of those junkies out on the street.” I was a functioning drug addict. I had a good job; I had been with the company for over 11 years. I had been promoted four different times. I managed over 100 employees. I was second-in-command at our store. I truly felt unstoppable.
I still worried about pleasing others, though—so much so that I couldn’t sleep at night. I would be up all night, my mind racing. I was worried about things that hadn’t even happened. I felt like I was a prisoner in my own mind. It was hard for me to say no to people, even when the store manager asked me to do some unethical stuff. I knew it was wrong, but I felt he had my back.
After working there for 11 years I felt lost and broken. I turned to the one person who had always been there for me as a child: my mother. My mom told me to attend Celebrate Recovery®. She had been attending it for four months and loved it. My mom is an opioid survivor, but I laughed at her and said, “No, mom, that’s not for me.” But my mom didn’t give up that easily.
She turned to her ministry leader, Marielle, and told her about my situation. Even though Marielle and I had never met and we lived in different states, she sent me the Celebrate Recovery Bible, Your First Step to Celebrate Recovery, and the Celebrate Recovery Daily Devotional. This touched me so much. I have never had a stranger do so much for me.
My mom found me a Celebrate Recovery through the Celebrate Recovery App, and I promised her I would attend that week, which was July 11, 2014. I was so scared and unsure of what to expect. Man, was I wrong. After attending Celebrate Recovery and seeing how welcoming everyone was, I thought, “What are they on? How can they be so happy? I want to feel that way!” I gave a summary on why I thought I was there during small group. I felt better afterward. After attending Celebrate Recovery for four weeks, I was hooked. I felt safe at Celebrate Recovery. I felt like everyone cared about me. I was in a judgment-free zone, and best of all, it was free to attend.
I called my mom to explain to her what was happening to me. She was happy and said, “Don’t fight it; go with it.” My mom and Marielle made it possible for me to attend the 2014 CR Summit. I came back baptized and forever changed. Jesus Christ has changed me. I love sharing my experience with everyone now. I wore my mask for so long that I forgot how it felt to be human.
I gave God a full plate of my hurts, hang-ups, and habits. God told me to take off my backpack. God said it was time to step out of denial, and I no longer needed to carry that extra weight. I have been attending Celebrate Recovery ever since. Fast-forward four years later: I am not sure how this happened, but God selected me to be the Celebrate Recovery Team Lead for Phoenix. I now get to work with our amazing volunteer state representatives who are there to support new and existing Celebrate Recovery groups.
I have a heart for people who struggle with opioids. You see this epidemic hit everyone. Through networking and connecting, God has opened the doors to provide all the Celebrate Recovery groups in Arizona with Narcan kits. Sonoran Prevention Works wants to be a part of the fight, and they are providing the tools for us at no cost. That’s God!
Being a part of Broken Chains, as an associate, has opened new doors to share hope with others. At local cultural community events, you will find me sharing about mental health, bullying, people pleasing—all the stuff I went through as a kid. I love sharing about Celebrate Recovery because I remember when I was lost and God came and found me through this ministry. I always felt alone and different until I discovered God’s love and grace.
Think about it: I went from passing out party flyers to passing out Celebrate Recovery flyers. God saved me, and it happened on a Friday night. If God can change my mom and me, imagine what he can do for you if you let him.