”A man never cries.” These were some of the earliest words Ahmad Abu Saleh heard from his strict, domineering father. In his mind, showing feelings was a sign of weakness: a weakness that must be eliminated by beating, if necessary.
Born the 6th child into a poor family of 12, Ahmad learned early and often that his internal desires for security, warmness, and connection could not be met either at home or at school. Instead, he was taught by his father to “show his muscles” and never give up. During adolescence, he began to lash out at his classmates and teachers due to his felt lack of connection and was subsequently kicked out of school. He began working with his brothers at a local kiosk, and four years later moved to Eilat to continue supporting his economically disenfranchised family. While there, he refused to give in to the influences of his coworkers, who all used drugs and alcohol.
After some time, a relative informed Ahmad that his father had arranged an engagement for him. Burdened by years of a broken relationship, he was unable to confront his father despite his reluctance to marry. The strength he had possessed to deny the temptations of his colleagues finally weakened, and he began to smoke hash. The bride-to-be’s family learned of this and withdrew. Soon after, Ahmad swore off the drugs and married a woman of his choosing.
But, his newfound enemy was not done with him. Their marriage began to struggle, and he quickly turned back to his habit. 8 months later, they divorced, and in the heartache and uncertainty, he spiraled downwards further and further. Soon, hard drugs became a consistent part of his life. In order to fuel his vices, he began stealing, cheating, and dealing, but the law could never catch him. He went through several rehabilitation programs but to no avail. He remarried, and his new wife bore him two sons: two lights in the midst of the darkness he was creating. Yet, the drugs never released their iron grip on his heart. The unending fight to be free and the poisonous effects of the drugs wearied his soul.
One day, the money ran out. Ahmad had no means to acquire his most hated friend. His son noticed his distress and presented his piggy bank to his father. An internal battle ensued: one that, Ahmad, to his shame, lost. He took his own son’s money in order to embrace the very thing that was killing him.
However, something in his heart changed that day. This simple act of service, kindness, and love touched Ahmad. The turning point was reached. He spoke to God and asked that He would either grant death or give him the strength to defeat his addiction.
On the 19th of March, 1988, Ahmad’s sister brought him to a clinic. He did not leave for an entire year, and in that span of time, he finally confronted the deep-seated brokenness that had been haunting him his entire life: his fractured, unhealthy relationship with his father. His social worker arranged for a meeting with his father, and, for the first time, they brought their pains and frustrations to light. Healing was found. Freedom was tasted.
Yet, true and lasting freedom would not come easily. Because of his past, no one would hire him. The inner struggles were tremendous: overcoming the demons of his past and the singing sirens that were his chosen drugs would have been impossible alone. He recognizes this fact and credits his social worker for persevering with him through the darkest moments and for the idea that altered his life trajectory: to apply for work as a counselor and mentor for individuals like himself who were seeking to be free from the chains of addiction. With this help, and fueled by this newfound vision, Ahmad finished the course. This was the first time he truly completed something he started. A major victory.
Now he works at House of Grace, serving our residents who are seeking to be free from addictions to drugs and alcohol. Furthermore, he helps in many other capacities; lightening the load the other staff members carry any way he is able. In all of this, he has remained humble and is unendingly grateful to his faithful family and friends for standing by his side every step of the way. He also thanks to his Creator for the meaningful life he lives and the experiences he is privileged to have: for this second chance he has at life. Ahmad Abu Saleh has now been sober for over 6500 days. He is a living, breathing testimony to the power of long-term investment and service that rehabilitation centers like House of Grace offer to the most broken, hurting individuals of society. No one is beyond grace.