I'm 38 years old. I was born and raised in Portland Oregon, the Felony Flats neighborhood. I was raised by my mom. I do not know my father. I'm a one night stand baby. Growing up was hard.
I was in and out of foster homes. My mom got us taken once. I was about 2 years old when I first went into a foster home. We weren't in the foster system very long. My mom fought for us. She wanted my sister mainly. Me too, but that was before I was a trouble child.
My mom met my step dad when I was seven years old. It was rough. He had a child and I had my older sister, so I was the middle child. I was physically abused. My mom used to drag me around the house, and if I tried to leave she would grab me by my hair, and drag me around by my hair.
At the age 10 or 11years old she gave me to my aunt ‘cause she needed a vacation. Those were her exact words. I lived there for two and a half years. I ran away from my aunt's house because I wanted to go back home to my mom. I was with my aunt ‘till I was 16 years old. I remember I wasn't with her when I lost my virginity at the age of 16. I got my first job when I was 16 bagging groceries. It was Keno's at 67th and Foster. But now it's at Dollar tree. What do you know?
I was 16 when I left home. Down the street from my mom's house there's this house. It's a place where you can rent a room. One person runs the building, or one family. In this case it was one man and his son running the building. It was kind of like a dad figure but it wasn't. Now that I'm older I see that the guy that was running the stuff, he didn't look at me like a daughter. If he had the chance he probably would have tried. But I was old enough to know what was right and what was wrong.
His son had his own room and I shared a bedroom with his son. His son was like two or three years younger than I was. It’s got 24 rooms or something like that. I started living there. It was cheap. They had a community kitchen and community bathroom.
I slept on the bike trail a little bit. But it wasn't for very long. That’s because I choose to be away from my mom. She's not very healthy for me.
God blessed me by not having me be homeless unless I wanted to be. The only time I was homeless was when I wanted to be. Some guys are hanging out with friends like when I was a teenager. I remember sleeping on porches as a teenager downtown Portland cause that's what all the "Cool kids" were doing. I was only with the Park block kids downtown ‘cause I thought it was cool. I didn't want to live in a group home so I was living on the street. I never did drugs back then. I smoked cigarettes. That was it.
My mom was an alcoholic. They did drugs when I was younger, and then she got into a really bad motorcycle accident. She got clean and sober until I was of the age of 21. She relapsed after that with me, smoking pot first.
The first drug I ever did was alcohol. I was 15 years old. I was with some friends from the neighborhood, and we went to their grandma's house. We were in the pool drinking out of the grandparent’s liquor cabinet. That was the first and last time I did that, until I was 18 years old.
I started smoking pot when I was Junior in high school. At first my cousin wanted me to start smoking with her, but I wouldn't because I didn't want to do no drugs. When I was at a friend's house, her older sister was there. They started pressuring me so I did it. It made me feel like, not good at all. I slowly started smoking it more and it made me feel different. So I started smoking it all the time.
I did meth for the first time when I was 16. I only did that once. It was for three days straight. I started thinking telephone poles were my cousin coming back to where we were. It wasn't. It was just telephone poles. So I didn't touch that again until I was 18. That was scary stuff. I was drinking it. This was back in 1994. It wasn't the garbage they have now that's for sure.
I was 18 when I met this guy. He sold drugs and I got into it with him. I ended up marrying him. Our whole relationship only lasted seven months. Then I met another guy. I had two children with him. Our first son passed away. He was two months old. He would be almost 19. That’s when I started using heavy. I used Meth and weed when I was pregnant with him. I don't think weed hurt him, because I smoked weed with all my kids and he's the only one that passed away. I quit when I got pregnant with my second son which is now almost 17.
Before I had kids I was living in a car kind of. When I was dating my kid’s father, I was living in my car. I was living in my car ‘cause his mother didn't like me. Then the car was towed. My son's father, he refused to be seen in it, in daylight. I remember.
When we had our second son, I didn't use, but CSD was still involved when he was born because of my prior son, who died from SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). They knew I had been using when I was pregnant, because I was honest. It's just one thing that I have been most of my life is honest, even when I was loaded.
I had my second son up until he was eight months. I had my son and I fought for my son. Then they came to give me a UA (Urine Analysis), and I was dirty.
I was smoking weed with my mom. I quit breast feeding so I could get high. My mom was the only one that knew that. CSD told me that the caller said that I wanted to quit breast feeding so I could get high. My mom turned me in to CSD even though we were getting loaded together. Me and my mom don't have the best relationship. She has always put my sister first, and probably will till the day I die. And that's ok.
I fought a little bit but I seen that he had a good life with his dad and his grandma, so I left him be, and that's where he still is today. He's got a good life. He’s a young buck now. I was 22, maybe 23.
From there I got loaded. I was living basically anywhere I could. I started hanging out around 72nd and Killingsworth area. I met this guy but we were just friends. I was sleeping on his couch.
I got loaded for five years then got pregnant with my daughter. I had her and I got clean. I raised her by myself for four years. In that four years, she was like two and a half, I met my youngest son's father. I met him at a meeting and we got together. We were clean together until we got our own place.
Before I got pregnant with my daughter I ended up meeting these amazing people that didn't get loaded. They knew I was loaded but they took me in anyway. I met these folks in this trailer park, Dean and Mary. Dean was amazing. I adopted him as like my father. He's a big part of my life. I was like 24 when I met him
They helped me out. They helped me get my own place. They took me in and then I got pregnant with my daughter. They bought me a trailer and I lived right next to them. I had no electricity and no hot water. I met them in a trailer park. They were the managers of this trailer park. I was just there hanging out. I knew a lot of people doing dope. They hated me at first, absolutely hated me. But I'm a hard person to hate. They ended up falling in love with me ‘cause I kept saying to Mary, "Hey beautiful. How are you doing?" She'd tell me, "You need glasses!" She was really rude to me. In time she changed because I just kept going. I'm still friends with them today. That started me, on my way to, not being homeless. I never was forced to be homeless, and live on the streets until 2009.
One day I got pinned up. This guy was driving drunk. He got away. He came up on the curb on the sidewalk where I was walking. I got pinned between the fence and this car. I wasn't hurt but I just couldn't move. Dean and Mary came out and she said I had changed from that day on. So they started liking me. So I just started calling them mom and dad. She didn't have any kids, and he had one he hadn't talked to in a long time. So they really liked it. Having someone they could take care of. It was only a couple months before they got me a place.
When Dean and Mary got fired I ended up getting evicted out of there, because I had never paid rent. It lasted about six months. Dean and Mary were living in Carver by then, and they had bought like a travel trailer. I moved out to Carver with them into their trailer. I lived with them for a couple years. Then they were managers of this other park in Gresham, and they bought me my own trailer, and I was actually paying rent there.
I got pregnant. Two months before I delivered I moved in with my mom. I was going to need help. CSD got involved when she was born because of my son, even though there was five years difference. They were involved for four months and then realized I was doing the deal. I was doing good. I was going to meetings and all that. And they just closed the case. By then I had already met Zander's Dad. So I just lived with my mom for a while. I was with my mom till Destiny was like one. Destiny and I moved into the trailer out in Gresham that Dean and Mary bought me.
We were out there for a couple years, and then I lost my job. I had Zander. We moved to a bigger trailer. That lasted a little bit. I lost my job because I have mental health issues. I wanted to kill myself so I went to the hospital and he was taking care of the two kids. Well, he ended up leaving me while I was in the hospital. We had already relapsed and started drinking a little bit but mainly smoking pot. Our baby sitters were selling pot. We didn't know that when they first started watching our kids. She was State Certified baby sitter. When I got out of the hospital I took my daughter. I let him keep our son. He couldn't take care of our son no more ‘cause by then he was getting loaded on meth. He couldn't handle our son anymore, so he gave him to me. I was getting loaded again. I was back in Felony Flats.
I got my kids taken by making some poor choices. I got a couple charges. I got a possession charge and another charge. Went to court for that and I fought for my kids.
Destiny’s dad was never in her life. He wanted me to get an abortion. He had seen her four times in four years. The kids were living with my sister while they were trying to find my daughters dad to do the paternity test and all that stuff. Once the paternity test came back it was 99.9 percent positive she was his. They gave her to him. I didn't get a chance to get her back. They said it was a civil matter. I haven't seen her since. The day he got her was the last day I seen her. That was 9-9 of '09.
My sister got my kids taken away from her because she hung up on the DHS worker. She hung up on them because she didn't like what the DHS worker was saying. And you can't do that. So Zander ended up going to this one foster home. He's only been to one foster home that's now his family. He was there ‘till he was about two and they gave him back to his dad's. Then the CSD worker got fired. We got a new worker and she took Zander straight out of Nathans care and placed him back with me. So I ended up getting my son back.
I was dumb and I was letting my son see his dad behind their back. He went and told on me. So they took my son away from me again. Then I had even more work to do. I was doing the work, and my attorney asked me one day, "Brina I really want you to think about who can give this child a better life in the long run."
I had a three hour bus ride back home and I thought about it the whole time. Here I am living with my mom. My son and I are sharing a room. I got no job. I'm sitting on Social Security and I got nothing going for myself.
The foster parents my son was living with, the one and only home he went into, I know they love him dearly. They are well off. I know they could give him a better future. So I called my attorney and I said, “I'll let them adopt him.” They really wanted to adopt him. ‘Cause she filled up my head with, "If you let us adopt him we're going to be camping together, have Christmas's together.” Like I was going to be part of their family. Until the adoption papers were final. Then they slowly eliminated me out of his life. It went about two years because he's almost 10 years old. I got to throw him his 5th birthday at Chucky Cheese. So by the time he was 6 years old, I was completely out of his life.
When I had my daughter and my son, if you're on cash assistance, there's a guy at the welfare office that will keep appealing for you until you get a court date. And that's what happened. Three years later in 2009, my kids were taken from me, and I got those charges.
I got on Social Security because I tried to kill myself multiple times in the past. I had anxiety really bad that I couldn't go to work. My mom put it into my head that I needed Social Security. I regret that now because I probably won't get it when I'm older. I'm to the point, where I'm clean and sober right now and I'm addicted to working. That's my new addiction. So I'm probably going to be 80 years old and working.
I got denied twice. I was going to give up but then I was on TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). I had my kid and I didn't have any money. I was told this guy can help you get on it so I was like "Sure, why not." I didn't want to work then. I wanted to be a stay at home mom.
While I was waiting for my court date to go see a judge I got busted. I got a PCS (Possession of a Controlled Substance) charge because I admitted I smoked off a pipe. I didn't have anything on me, but I admitted that I smoked off a pipe, that they found at somebody's house. I was there on the front porch. I was there, so I got busted. So I had to go to trial and fight this, but I didn't want to. I just wanted to hurry up so I could get my kids back.
I was offered Multnomah County drug court. And I'm telling you what, that was the best thing that ever happened to me. It was a 12 month program. It took me 25 months. I took the extended route. I took this drug court, because if I finished that, then it wouldn't be on my record. SOLD. That was me. I finished that program and it's not on my record. That's their way of getting you into drug court. But if you fail you get 18 months probation. You got to do jail time and all that. At that point in my life I hadn't done but a few hours in jail. So I'm like, "I'm not staying the night in jail!"
***Multnomah County drug court: A drug court in Multnomah County, Ore., that focuses on providing treatment services for offenders facing first-offense drug charges
At first I was doing outpatient. It's called INACT. It’s a drug program. You can't get into that unless it's through the courts. So I did that. I was trying to get my kids back in a hurry. I couldn't quit smoking pot, so I told them I wanted inpatient, and that's what they gave me. That's where I went to take my UA's and all that. They put me on the list for VOA and I got in right away.
VOA, Volunteers of America is a great drug and alcohol treatment center. You couldn't go there unless you're on probation or parole. I wasn't on either of those, but VOA had one bed for a woman. I got that one bed for that time. I completed the VOA program for women in 2010. I graduated in 2011.
***VOA is the abbreviation for Volunteers of America. Volunteers of America have been around since 1896, helping those most vulnerable. See more at: https://www.voaor.org/ EMERGENCY HOTLINE: 503-771-5503).
While I was in VOA my court date came up for Social Security. I got on SSI in 2010, for anxiety. I have Bipolar, PTSD, and Depression. When I had my daughter for four years, when I wasn't getting loaded, I did counseling for my mental health. But once I get loaded there goes all my meds, all the counseling. Everything goes out the door. During that time I was diagnosed with all those.
I was doing Lifeworks before, but I wouldn't do any counseling as long as I was getting loaded or take meds. Lifeworks was on and off.
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VOA is a six month program. I did it in four and a half months because I had a job waiting for me by the time I was to that phase. I don't remember what the phases were. That was seven years ago, and I drank a lot of alcohol since then. I completed that program and I stayed clean for two and a half years. From 2010 to 2012 I was clean. I was just doing normal stuff. Taking care of my kid and working. That was it. It's a pretty boring life, as I thought.
Then Dean died.
First the adoption was final in 2011. Dean died in March of 2012. By June of 2012 I was getting loaded again. It was the combination of the two that got me. I went back to Meth. I just got loaded and stayed loaded until 2013. I shot, smoked, snorted, and ate it. Then one day I got sick of shooting it so I started smoking it again. I haven't shot dope in over 10 years. A lot of people say that once you start shooting it you'll never stop. I did. I just got sick of hiding in the bathroom trying to find a vein.
I met this guy within seven months. I started dating him. He was eleven years to my younger. He started abusing me. It was physical abuse. It was the worst relationship in my life. But meth was our thing. I tried to break up with him. He told me that was not my choice. In order to break up with him I had to take a five day bus ride to Alabama because that's where we were going to live. I told him I was going to go live with him there ‘cause we had nowhere. My mom was done. She told me I have to go. At that time I was so drug induced I wanted to stay with this guy. I wanted away from him, but I didn't want to be alone.
We did the bus trip to Alabama. Two months after we were in Alabama we weren't doing any dope. We were clean. I decided I wanted to come home. This was in 2013. When I got back I did meth for a couple more weeks. Then October 2, 2013 was the last time I've done any dope. I woke up one day and I was like, "This stuff is no good anymore." I could tell by the people I see that it's still not working out there.
I needed somewhere to go. I lived with my friend Dawn for a month. I lived with these other people for a month. I was renting rooms. I would never live somewhere without paying for my share. Ever since I quit doing dope I never lived rent free, never. I've always paid my way.
I went to visit my friends in Maupin and I got offered a job. The weekend I was there, they said they had to help someone move, and they asked if I wanted to go with them. The person they were helping move was the manager at this hotel. Once she seen me work she said she would hire me at the hotel.
I asked my friends if they would give me a chance, and let me move in with them because I lived with them before. They knew I was good on my rent. So they let me move in. I ended up buying a trailer out there. I lived out there for three years.
And then I got another job cleaning a restaurant. And then I picked up another job at the Dollar Tree. So I had three jobs at one time. They were all part time and I was getting fed up with the hotel because my supervisor was an alcoholic. She would come to work drunk. That was before I started doing the daily drinking, and drinking before I came to work.
When I first lived out there I was only drinking every once in a while. But it's a small town. There’s nothing to do. I slowly started drinking every single day. Once in a while, led to a couple times a week, led to every day, led to drinking before I went to work in the morning. I was drinking a fifth of Fireball a day. I was even drinking some Mike's hard lemonade on top of that.
I was dating this dude for like a year and a half. It was an okay relationship. I looked in his mom's liquor cabinet. It was Christmas Eve. Christmas morning I woke up and noticed I drank a fifth and a half. That's when I went, "Wow. I'm done." 34 days before Christmas Eve I woke up and decided I'm gonna quit. I made it 34 days. When Christmas Eve came, I wanted to drink hot buttered rum. From Christmas Eve to January 10th, I was just drinking a little bit. Not a fifth a day. Then I decided to quit but...January 10th is the last time I drank any alcohol. My clean date is January 16th of this year (2017) because I was still smoking pot. But I did quit drinking January 10th. That was the last time I drank. A couple days later I was going through DT's then I wanted to kill myself so I put myself into Detox at Cedar Hill's hospital in Beaverton. I did 14 days there and I've been clean and sober ever since.
I don't take anxiety meds anymore. It's weird. I don't really get anxiety. The only time I get anxiety is when I see people drinking or around dumb people. I think I work too much to have anxiety now. I don't even think about it.
I moved to Salem because they were closing the park down that I lived in and the trailer didn't move. I was told it wasn't gonna move. So I sold it. My best friend lives out there. She said I can rent a room from her. We've been best friends for 23 years. I got my job at Safeway. Safeway is a good company to work for.
Things have gotten a lot different with my son. We're allowed to have dates by ourselves. His whole life has been supervised. Now they're not supervised anymore. I know it's because of his age. He's almost 17. He said just a couple months ago for the first time in his entire life how proud he was of me, for getting my stuff together and keeping my word. My family will always be that way. My friends are more my family than anything.
Seeing people who still use, shows me I'm really glad I'm still in recovery. This is the first time I'm in recovery for myself. I think I could go through a death and still stay clean and sober. I have no desire to get drunk or loaded anymore. Sometimes a thought comes across but I'm pretty strong in my recovery.
The biggest thing was that I lost my kids. But I don't know where I'd be if that wouldn't of happened. I wouldn't change it because my kids are in the best places they could probably be. My daughter is the only one I'm not sure about, because I've seen charges. She’s gotten DUI's, Reckless Driving, DV's (Domestic Violence). So I don't know what's going on with her. It scares me. She'll come find me to let me know. Unfortunately I have to wait. She'll be twelve next month. I give it another three years and she'll be looking for me.
God's given me the patience for the last eight years. I have a feeling I can wait three more. If not till she's 18. I'm sure I can wait. When she does find me, I'm going to be completely clean and sober. I'm going to have some time. And I'm going to be able to tell her, "I fucked up. I made mistakes." Hopefully my son will be there and say, "Yeah, she wasn't there for me either but she is now. I gave her a second chance, maybe you can to."
Out of everything I lost, my kids would be the number one thing I would change in my life, if I could go back and change it. And then it probably wouldn't have worked out because I was doing it for my kids, and this time I'm doing it for me. I tried to quit for my kids. It didn't work. I tried to quit for the courts. It didn't work. It worked for a few years and I'd say I'm never getting loaded again. And a few years later something would happen and I'd get loaded. This is the first time I woke up tired of being sick and tired. I feel pretty strong. I got a good job. I have two jobs. One's really good and one's ok. They keep me really busy and really tired. I don't have time to do anything. I go to meetings at least three a week. AA or NA. I got a good support system.
When I was growing up, my mom use to force us to go to church. I liked church until I became a teenager. I use to have to sit by this lady that would pinch my cheeks and do some weird stuff. So when I was able to say I'm not going any more, because of this lady, I just quit going. I was about eleven years old.
It wasn't until Trevor brought me to Renewed Life Fellowship that I started believing in God again. My son died so I was like, "There is no God". I've had a strong faith since. It burns strong inside of me.
Alcohol is a drug. Period. Legal or not. Pot is a drug. Legal or not. I know it helps with some medication. Medically people try to say they use it for this or that. If I can get over what I got over without smoking pot, others can.
You can't stop unless you want to. You can't do it for the kids. You can't do it for the courts. It's not going to work. You can only stop if it's for yourself. You can't help anybody that doesn't want help. A lot of people tried to help me but I wasn't ready. You'll know when you're ready. You'll wake up one day and know.
A lot of my friends that smoke pot, they don't believe in God, but we have different faiths. It's Ok. I just know that anything that changes my mind altering is a drug, period. I use to think pot and alcohol were ok because they were legal and their really not. Especially for the one's that struggle.
If you want to quit then you have to quit everything. A lot of people can't just drink a bottle and then go beyond the stuff. Like me. I can't just drink every once in a while because eventually it will turn into every single day. So I just have to say, "None of it."
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