I really didn’t want to, but I had to go live with my grandma. Mom began working and the only rays of sunlight in my life were the few weekends she could spare time to come see us. I clung to those sparse days of kindness. I never saw my father after mom and dad split. I was only 6 when they separated and it really hurt.
Mom got married to another man when I was 7. He brought the family from Mexico across the border into Arizona and someone transported us on to Colorado. We had no papers but it was all arranged. Those Colorado days were really good until the terrifying moments my heart thundered as I watched from between the cracks of my fingers, and hard blows rained down on my sister. Soon there was a warrant for my stepdad’s arrest and we had to run back to Mexico. The teacher had seen some ugly bruises on my sister’s arms and reported himto the authorities. I was about 12 then and the trouble was only beginning.
She wouldn’t talk, she just stared off empty-eyed and ignored us. I tried to get mom’s attention, God knows I tried. We had arrived safely in Torreon but my stepdad abandoned us there. I began to attend school and work. My extended family was in the tourist business so I hauled people’s luggage to the tour busses for tips. I did all the right things, I even gave mother the cash I earned for groceries, but she began buying alcohol with it. When I turned 13 she offered me my first beer. How I wish she didn’t!
I began to hang out with the wrong crowd but the whole time my heart was crying for my mother’s attention. I wanted her to chew me out, to tell me to stop. I was angry but she was lost to me. So I tried drugs: pills, cocaine, etc. to forget the emptiness. That quickly became an addiction that required more funds. So I began hanging out with older guys and mugging people, usually with knives or guns.
I remember jerking at the purse in the old lady’s hand. She wouldn’t let go. My other hand held the pistol. I didn’t mean to, I really didn’t, but my finger squeezed a little too tight and the next thing I knew, she was falling down. I was so buzzed from the drugs, so jittery…that was my first kill and it opened an unhinged door.
Mom took me to a rehab center when I was 14. After 4 months, and 15 days I was out and thrust back in the drugs and crime scene. I’ve been in and out of rehab centers about 6 times! It embarrasses me to say that. You face reality once again… I ask myself if maybe I was sent out too early? Each time I hope, I believe: this time it will be different.
Mario is currently in a rehab center, run and advised by longterm local friends and partners of INfire. Leaders we serve.
Not everyone can climb beyond their guilt. You will see in Part 2 of Mario’s story, that ruining so many people’s lives fosters deep shame, sadness and guilt. For those that struggle with subsequent self loathing, human forgiveness is not enough, self forgiveness is also not enough. We all need a God-sized forgiveness that celebrates us down to the marrow. This universal need is more accentuated when we spend time with folks like Mario.
Statistically, it is difficult for an actor in multiple murders, human torture or betrayal of loved ones to ever recover. Only the forgiveness of the cross is big enough for human evil. You begin to see this when you work in areas of conflict and violence and get horrifying glimpses into the crevices of human depravity. Thank God for interminable mercy!
To support critical programs like this, you can give to INfire.