Two audio stories from a woman’s experience of addiction, family, and homelessness
This story is from the Invisible Project, a collaboration between the Welcome Project and Porter County Coalition for Affordable Housing, Housing Opportunities, Gabriel’s Horn, Dayspring Women’s Center, and Porter County Museum.
Note: Tracks can be listened to individually and do not need to be listened to in order.
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Transcript for Nowhere to Go
“I was pulling a suitcase down the sidewalk going from one friend’s house to another friend’s house to a staircase in an apartment complex.”
When I was a homeless person, I didn’t see myself as somebody standing around a garbage bin with a fire coming out of it, or sleeping under the bridge, because I’ve seen that. I didn’t consider myself that kind of a person.
When you have an addiction, it pulls you, it takes you, it controls you. My mom used to even say, ‘How come you can’t just stop?’ ‘How come you can’t just stop? I don’t understand.’ Because you’re not addicted to it. That thing is what you turn to all the time, no matter what. Something makes you mad, something doesn’t go your way, something doesn’t get—anything—then that’s what you turn to escape, to go on Cloud Nine, to not to worry about it. You feel better when you don’t have nothing—no cares any more. But in all reality, once that’s done and over with, there’s problems still there.
My ex-husband and I, when we met, we met in a bar, and we drank for two years straight. We were planning on getting married, and I ended up pregnant, so we went ahead, you know, with the wedding, and when I got sober, and we then met each other. I remember we’d go out to eat, and wouldn’t say a word to one another. We didn’t have conversation. We didn’t have nothing in common, and I just wasn’t ready to settle down, I guess. So, I got to go bowling, be on a bowling lane and stay until two, three o’clock in the morning while he would be there at home with our son. And we eventually moved in with his mom, and he had filed divorce papers on me, and sent them to my mom’s house, and I was like, ‘What a coward. I’m here living with you, and you can’t tell me you’re filing for divorce?’ So, I left, and left my son there because he was in a good school system, and I wasn’t stable, and I didn’t want to bring him along. I chose to be homeless, I guess, the first time. I could have went to my mom’s, or somewhere, and I chose to stay out on the streets and drink, and just flop on somebody’s couch, and work for a little bit to get money to drink some more. And I went through job, after job, after job. I had good jobs that I would call off because I was hungover. I finally, I guess, finally sobered up—I’d sober up for some months at a time, and do good, and then I just went back to old people, and places, and things. And I got kicked out of that apartment that I had, and that’s how I was really homeless. I didn’t have nowhere to go. I actually was pulling a suitcase down the sidewalk going from one friend’s house to another friend’s house, to a staircase in an apartment complex because it was cold out then. And I had heard about s Horn. They’re a homeless shelter that help people—women and children. I had to do something because it was so cold.
I don’t know if it’s hard to ask for help. I just didn’t know if I knew how at that time because I was so far gone. Lost everything. I was helpless. I didn’t know where to go—what to do. What do you do when you have nowhere to go? When you know you’re not welcome on your friend’s couch, but she lets you stay there anyways. Then you go to the bar to go shack up on somebody else’s couch, because you don’t have nowhere to go, and then, the next day you go get your suitcase from your friend’s. And then you go to that person’s house, and you stay there, and depending on how they are, if they’re trying to have a sexual relationship or something, because you stayed on their couch, you know? It’s just—I didn’t want that. I didn’t want to live like that. The fun was over. It wasn’t fun anymore.
Transcript for Time to Change
“You know what? People need help.”
At first, I didn’t want nobody to know where I lived. Because they were like, ‘We’ll give you a ride home. We’ll give you a ride home, ’you know? I’m like, ‘I just live right down the street. I can walk. And then, one girl I worked with said, ‘I used to live there’ And I’m like, ‘No way.’And then, I didn’t care no more, because you know what? People need help. And that’s why they’re there. And if you want to look down on me, then go ahead.
I was in Gabriel’s Horn—it was May, 2010. They’re a homeless shelter that help women and children. When I was there, of course I was scared, nervous. And a couple girls went to AA, and I wanted to go to AA. I wasn’t new in AA, because I’ve been to AA numerous times, but I really wanted it this time. I hit rock bottom. I actually was pulling a suitcase down the sidewalk, going from one friend’s house, to another friend’s house, to a staircase in an apartment complex because it was cold out then. The heartache that I gave my family—not knowing where I was, if I was dead, if I was alive. You know, my son would call—I remember—call, and leave messages: ‘Mom, I want you to come over. I want to see you.’ And,‘Oh, yeah, I’ll be there.’ And never come, you know? How heartbreaking is that? It was time to change. I was only there a week and I got a job. I was—I’m persistent. I can get a job, I just can’t keep a job. So, it was walking distance. It was a restaurant. And that’s where I met my husband, actually. I remember, he was a cook, and he would mess with me, and I’m like, re too young. Leave me alone.’ And, he just kept going on and on. And he would walk me home to Gabriel’s Horn because he lived not too far, or he would pick me up with roses, or just a flower. I was just glowing. It was great, and everybody at Gabriel’s Horn loved him. When I’d have my son, he would play ball—or we’d all play ball, or hacky-sack till one, two o’clock in the morning. It was great.
I have a great relationship with my son. I asked him, when I got sober five years ago, for forgiveness, and we talked, and he forgave me, and I cried. He thought I didn’t care about him, or I didn’t want him. Why would I always leave him? He didn’t understand that. And I explained to him that I had a problem. So, actually, when he seen the confidence that I would be there for him when I said so, and the trust that he gained back, our relationship is fabulous today. He wants to come and see me as much as he can, and I get him as much as I can. I have not missed a visit since. I had him over last weekend, and just laying there with him, you know, he’s fourteen, he don’t really want to snuggle anymore, and I miss that, and I kind of started crying, had tears, because that was my fault that I wasn’t there at some of those times to snuggle with him, or to tuck him in at night. Yeah. I regret some stuff—I regret that. It’s my fault that I let that happen. But I’m glad I’m not like that today.