Jared Renata, a Wairarapa field support worker for MOSAIC. PHOTO/JEREMY BRYSON

Jared Renata shares his journey from addictions and abuse to wellness
Broken life makes beautiful mosaic

Emily Ireland

Never give someone the keys to driving your car.

That’s what Jared Renata’s mother always told him as a youngster.

But, after a lifetime of addictions and abuse does Jared understand the full meaning of that particular pearl of wisdom.

Jared, originally from Hawke’s Bay, is a Wairarapa field support worker for MOSAIC, an organisation that offers peer-to-peer support for male survivors of sexual and child abuse.

He hopes sharing his own story will encourage other men to stand up and be supported.

There are many things Jared isn’t comfortable discussing even today, but he describes his childhood as “quite abusive” – “I’m from a couple of lines of generations of alcohol abuse”.

To cope with the abuse, Jared began smoking cannabis at the age of 8.

By the time he was in college, he was selling – “to pay for other people’s food”.

“There were a lot of kids at school that didn’t have anything to eat, so I used to sell drugs in order to give them food.”

He lasted until the end of fourth form when he was eventually kicked out of school.

After shifting around the North Island, he ended up back in Hawke’s Bay and was introduced to speed at the age of 16, “back in the 90s”.

“I was just a scared little boy, but when I was on drugs, I felt like I could take on the world.

“It was a long road for me trying to identify who I was as a person.

“I had all these qualities of loving and helping people, but my lifestyle didn’t match up.”

Jared became a heavy meth user when he was 20 and spent his 21st birthday at a rehabilitation centre in Marton before he was kicked out.

“I was heading down a bad track and got shipped down to Wellington to work for my uncle.

“Then I picked up meth again . . . I got into it quite heavy, selling the stuff.”

Jared took his own life but was brought back to life by his sisters and a neighbour – “I wasn’t breathing for five to eight minutes”.

“I hear stories that when you’re dead you see the light.

“Well, I didn’t see the light, I just saw darkness, and it scared me.

“It actually made me get more heavily into drugs because I just didn’t want to see that darkness anymore.”

His mental health continued to deteriorate as his addictions lingered.

“I realised after a while that it wasn’t my time.

“That obviously I had to make up for my wrong-doing.”

“That’s when I moved to Wairarapa (six years ago) and I got offered a job with Master Blaster – Brendon Larsen there is a wonderful man – he started me off on my path to wellness by talking and sharing with me.

“He saw what was going on in my life and how angry and frustrated I was, and he helped me out of a lot of dark situations.”

When Jared had nowhere to live, Brendon called former Masterton mayor Garry Daniell who offered him “the whole bottom floor of the Empire Lodge for $50 a week”.

He began involving himself with a few agencies who helped him to manage his trauma.

Along the way, he was mentored by Hoani Paku who was working at Whaiora at the time, and Ben Fox at Te Hauora.

“Both men were very caring and supportive – no matter what you said to them, they would just take it in and say, we’re here for you.

“They would ring me most days to see how I was going on my path to wellness.”

In 2015, Jared went to ChangeAbility “to get all this trauma off my chest”.

“I joined the Men’s Group there and learned what a man is supposed to be like and what a man should feel – how to handle my anger and frustrations – the basic tools in life.

“I was broken pieces, but now I have created something beautiful.

“With the right tools, you can make yourself strong and beautiful.”

Jared then went to UCOL in Masterton and achieved his Certificate in Health and Well-being Level 3.

It wasn’t an easy feat – Jared hadn’t written since he was 14 years old.

But he completed his studies and is set to graduate next year.

A chance encounter led him to the job he is in today with MOSAIC.

He met the CEO of MOSAIC while stopping in at ChangeAbility – “I thought he was a client and was being really friendly with him”.

“He said, we are looking for someone like you.”

Working out of the Wairarapa Community Centre on Perry St in Masterton, Jared supports men struggling with abuse, trauma, and hardship.

“Any door here is the right door – I just want people to know that there is help and we do care – and you do matter.”

“We are people here to listen to you and walk beside you on your journey to getting the help you need.

“We’re not victims anymore. We are survivors.”

Now more than ever, Jared’s mother’s wisdom rings true, he says.

“If you keep giving people the keys to your emotions — they’re going to keep driving you up the wall.

“Take your keys back.”

Jared will be sharing his life story at a community expo at the Carterton Events Centre on December 7 run by support agencies that exist to empower the Wairarapa community.

The event is called We Matter — Wairarapa Community Expo, and it will run from 9am until 2.30pm.

It will explore topics like mental health, abuse, addictions, and suicide, and there will be other people joining Jared to share their own experiences.

For more information, visit facebook.com/wematterwairarapa.

For more information on MOSAIC, visit mosaic-wgtn.org.nz, call the Wairarapa branch on 06 377 7209 or call or text the MOSAIC confidential listening service line on 022 419 3416.

You can call Jared directly on 027 560 8999.

Some useful free phone helplines

These 24/7 free phones are operated by trained counsellors who can help you talk through problems and identify ways of coping.

Lifeline: 0800 543 354

Kidsline: 0800 543 754 54 (0800 KIDSLINE) supporting under 18 yrs

Youthline: 0800 376 633, free text 234

Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (supports 5-18 yr olds, 1pm-11pm)

Women’s Refuge Crisis Line: 0800 733 843

Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757

Samaritans: 0800 726 666

Healthline: 0800 611 116

Outline NZ: 0800 688 5463 (0800 OUTLINE) sexuality and gender identity issues