I was born in California and removed from my biological mother at 18 months. Thereafter I lived in foster families, including living with my first grade teacher for a while. In fact, that was my happiest childhood memory. When I turned ten, my biological father decided he wanted me to live with an aunt and uncle in Redmond, Washington, where I remained for many years.
I started drinking and drugging in high school and it got really bad in my early 20s. I was starry-eyed when I met – and married – a drummer in a band in 1987. Soon cocaine became an everyday part of our lives. Because we put on a really good front, family and friends never suspected.
Then I got pregnant. I quickly went into treatment and my husband followed within two weeks. Becoming a parent changed my life forever. I never did cocaine again, but I didn’t know how to be a wife or mother while being sober. I certainly didn’t expect that prescription meds would be my next pitfall.
After three C-sections and several surgeries from car accidents and sports injuries, I was prescribed and became addicted to painkillers. My husband and I split up. It was difficult to be a single mom with chronic pain, but I managed to get all three children through high school as a single parent. I started using painkillers more and more once they were out on their own, until I found myself homeless.
I went to shelters and day centers in downtown Seattle. Some made me feel like I was four years old, and many felt institutional. Then I heard about Elizabeth Gregory Home. When I came for the first time, I felt like I’d found a sanctuary.
What was different? I FELT SAFE. Entering a neighborhood where there was no drinking or drugging around me, I could actually relax. I remember coming up the hill from the bus stop to EGH, and seeing this beautiful church building with trees around it. I could finally breathe.
I felt accepted & reassured by people who worked or volunteered at EGH. I connected with a counselor who helped me so much by having me look at my strengths and figuring out how to capitalize on them. I found an AA group that met upstairs in University Lutheran Church that was helpful. I could cook my own food. I could REST—I was exhausted. I witnessed acceptance on a daily basis, regardless of a woman’s beliefs, sexuality, or gender identity. Staff helped me get into a clean & sober transitional housing program where I lived for a year and a half. And finally, I moved into permanent housing!
Today my focus is on moving forward. I am working on healing my relationships with my children, looking at ways to give back by volunteering, participating in a recovery program, and getting back into the workforce. Achieving my hopes & dreams is possible as a direct result of my involvement with Elizabeth Gregory Home.