Testimony from Georgia B.

March, 2017

About Me

I'm going to be 51 years old. I was born in Portland Oregon. I grew up in North Portland in St. Johns a place called Columbia Villa. I was raised by my mother and father. Growing up, my dad never lets us go anywhere, kind of like hostage. He didn’t want us going out into the world and getting hurt. He was a good father. He was very, very strict, and I know now why he was strict, but then I use to think he was mean. He gave us spankings when we were bad, but he never mentally abused or beat us. My dad died of cancer in '91, and my mother died in 2000 of a heart attack. They stayed together until the end.

 

I grew up around African American people. It was like a hood. I fit in the hood because I grew up there, but it was really hard for, a white woman to be accepted in the black community.

 

I had to fight black women. I wasn't personally a gang member, but I grew up around gang members, and I went to school with gang members. So I fit in because "This white woman, Look at her, she knows everything."

 

I was taught by people how to hustle. I sold drugs. I sold meth, cocaine, Ritalin's, crack. I grew up hustling my whole life. Pain pills were big, and I sold a lot of it. I taught my kids how to hustle and sell drugs. I had my son around gang members. My son is in prison right now for being a gang member. I have to go to God; please forgive me for that. He looked to me and said, "I really want to find a woman like you mom." I told him "No you don't."

 

 

Addiction

I started drinking when I was 16, and got into shooting cocaine. I shot heroin a couple of times, and almost died. Ritalin's were out on the street, and I started shooting up Ritalin's. I never tried methamphetamines ’till 2014. Once I tried it, it's on and off, and that is seriously the devil. I hate that drug. Alcohol was the root of all evil of my drugs. If I took a drink, I would use cocaine, or I would use Ritalin's or methamphetamines.

 

I never shot myself up, my ex-shot me up. If he didn't do it, he would beat me; hit me because he didn't want anyone else to do it. He abused me really bad, mentally and physically. He raped me. Put me in the hospital. He beat me. He broke my nose. Then I got pregnant with my son. Thank God I got away from him. He went to prison, for killing somebody in 1989. He's been there ever since.

 

I got into relationships that were abusive, every man I was with. It was nice at first, and then mentally it started screwing my head up. Then physically being hit. The good ones that I did pick, I threw them away. My daughter's father, he was a good man, and my ex-husband, he was a good man too. They were both good men, but I didn't want the good boy's, I wanted the bad ones.  I quit drinking and using on and off for 10 and a half years because I was raising my kids, my grandkids, and got back with the ex.

 

I was back with the ex-relationship. 2012 we got back together. I started spending my money at the bars. I started drinking. I started using methamphetamines, for the first time. He got into my head, and then my son came home from prison. He got into meth.

 

I moved to Canby Oregon, got a really nice place. I adopted this boy when he was seven years old, my other son. His father got out of prison, and I had never met him. But, my son met him in prison. They came to my house. We had a federal warrant when they had drugs there. I got kicked me off section eight, and I had nowhere to go.

 

When my house got raided, I went to Salem. The man that helped me, held me hostage in a trailer, and wouldn't let me leave, and beat me. Finally, I jumped out a window and walked 5 miles to downtown Salem, caught a bus, and my son's sister, not from me, not my daughter, picked me up on 82nd at the Max stop, and took me to a domestic violence home. I lived there for about a year. But they closed it down because the lady that was running it was giving everybody drugs. I started right back up again, using.

 

 

Life on the Streets

I lived on the streets, for three and a half years. I was pushing a shopping cart, or walking, and living in cardboard boxes. I was living here at this church, here in a cubby hole. I lived across the street in a cubby hole. I lived behind bushes, behind trees, or in parks. I had tents. I would find places to be indoors. A lot of times I would go here to the church, or I would go to 7-11, or I would go to the bar till 3:30. I would also go to IHOP, and sit inside their drinking coffee. Otherwise, I would be out in the cold, sitting.

 

I did a lot of canning. I would go to the drop box at the Goodwill, and I would get stuff that I could sell. I would turn around, and sell that for drugs, and sell drugs to support my habit, and being out here. I still go to that thrift store today and talk to those people. They're so happy and joyful that I'm clean today.  I use to sleep in front of the recovery thrift store before I went to VOA.

 

(Please Note*** 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).

 

In the winter it was terrible. It was so cold and I got so sick. I would go to U-Haul, and they would give me cardboard boxes that I would build me a house out of. I would put like 20 boxes on the ground. I had tarps, but I was so cold, and so scared. And I was by myself 90 percent of the time.

 

In the summer time, it's not much easier. If, you’re sleeping out where people can see you, they wait, for you to go to sleep, or they offer you drugs. I remember one time I was offered methamphetamines, and I took a shot. The whole time I did drugs, I never went over 30 cents in an IV. My head was spinning. My head was on the side, and I thought I was dying. He did that so he could rob me for my dope, and my money. He didn't even care if I lived or nothing. For the grace of God I did.

 

I never got hurt out here. The only person I got hurt from where the people who were closest to me. I had money from a car accident. My back is messed up, and I have a bad leg. My ex would come around every pay day ‘cause I would buy balls of meth, and either shoot or smoke. I would buy alcohol every day, 2-11 fruit punch. I would go gamble. I would either shoot up, or smoke meth.

 

In the summer time, he would be so sweet and kind. He'd be sleeping with this woman, and that woman. He'd be accusing me of doing all that, and I never did. I stayed faithful to him out here, and I was a good person. He just took and stole everything from me. He took my car, and he threw me in the street. He took everything from my settlement. He took it, and told me I was moving up to quick in life, and that I needed to be dropped back down.

 

People were afraid of me out there because I always said what I thought. I didn't care who you were. I fought my way up in life, being where I grew up at. I grew up fighting police. I would run from the police, and they'd catch me, and I would kick them. But one person I never fought till the end was my ex. When he broke my ear drum, I hit him, and kicked him. I wanted to hurt him so bad, for what he did to me. I look at it today because God knows I forgive him. But he does not know I forgive him. That's the way I'm going to leave it. Because if he knows I forgive him, then he'll try, and get back with me. I don't want to do that today.

 

I met a lot of good people out here on the street. I met a lot of bad people. I saw people die. I have seen people overdose from drugs. They are being cold, and have no food. I've seen people starving. I've seen people throwing up. I've seen people potty on them self, urinate on their self. I've seen people so sick, or die of heroin.

 

I always tried to help everybody no matter what. You know a lot of the one's I helped took from me. I forgive them today because it's a crazy life out there. Sometimes we have to do things we don't like to do in life.  I really lived the streets, and I'll never forget it. I'll never think that I'm better than anybody. When you say that will never happen in life, it's a strong possibility it could, and I know that today.

 

 

Mental health

I'm down as bipolar down, depressed constantly. ‘Cause I've been depressed my whole life. I've been angry and bitter for at least 35 years. I wouldn't want to get up, and do anything. I would want to cry. The first month and a half I was in VOA, I was so depressed. I didn't want to get up, and I didn't want to eat.

 

I control my bipolar. I'm not on medications. I refuse to take them. It's the situation you're in, and how you feel. If you look at a situation, and you feel that way all the time, you're going to be that way all the time. You can change that. I'm learning to grasp new things, not be depressed, and get out of that life style. When I got off the drugs and alcohol, I went to a lot of classes, and graduated a lot of classes. There are ways that you will not be depressed. If I feel I'm getting depressed, I asked myself "why am I feeling like this." I don't want to feel like this. I would get up, and go for a walk. I get up, and read. So there is a way to go about that.

 

It's crazy when we get off the drugs, and we let a lot of things go in our lives. How things can change, but you have to allow it, and you have to get as much information as you can. Like, I asked if I could come back to VOA during the days, and sit in the classes. Maybe there was something I didn't grasp then. Maybe I can grasp it now. The more knowledge I have on this, being in my recovery, and helping others, it's all coming together. It really is. I see now where I made mistakes, and why I let things happen, and being in vulnerable situations. I'm fighting this demon, for the rest of my life. I'll tell you he's not going to win this battle. ‘Cause I'm getting older. I don't have many chances left. I'm not going to say I'm going to die tomorrow. I might have another 50 years in my life. There's going to be a lot of people that know who I am. I'm going to touch a lot of people.

 

 

Legal

I've had charges of theft, forgery, and prostitution from the age of 16 ‘till I was 24 to support habits. I had prostitutes. I had women out there prostituting for me. I've got a charge called pimping and pandering. I never did it again. This last one, I took the charge, but it was for my son. The guy I adopted, his son had 24 bags of methamphetamines in the house it wasn't mine. I took 3 years’ probation as long as I do good and, I'm not ordered to go to VOA, she'll let me off probation in June or July. I’m told my probation officer I'm going to. I'm supposed to be on it 3 years. I'm so excited about that too. It won't even be a year.

 

When I met my probation officer, I was supposed to see her 24 hours before I got out of jail. I didn't see her, for a month and a half. I called her up. My son told me to call her. I was scared to death because I had a warrant. I was at this church, and I told her, “I need to let you know, my name is Georgia, and you’re my probation officer.” She asked why I didn’t come and see her. I told her, “It was because I didn't want to get off drugs, and I don't want to do what you people want me to do. I want to do what I want to do. I want to go to my recovery. I want to go where I want to go. It should be my choice. I'm 50 years old. If you put me in a place where I don't want to be I'm not going to do it.” You know what, it was Monday. She said, "If you come in on Wednesday, I'll lift the warrant; we'll sit down and talk. We’ll see what you're talking about, and we'll go from there." She lifted the warrant, and she doesn't even call to check on me. She knows where I am and what I'm doing. I see her once a month if that. I'm real happy about that. She's a wonderful probation officer. She let me make my own choices to get where I need to be.

 

From the age of 16 to 34, others put me in jail all the time. They never cared about what I went through, the abuse, or the drugs. But things are changing. Probation and parole officers are really working with people to help them. They are helping people who have been through stress, drama, and depression. She's a heaven sent. She's a good woman, and I really like her a lot, ‘cause I don't even like the police or probation officers. But today I can say I do.

 

 

My Support Groups

There are a lot of women in my recovery. We go to meetings weekly. I go to church every week. I'm meeting a spiritual woman next week. She'll take me out, and go have coffee and talk. Maybe do things together. Just talk about my recovery. When I'm out here next week, I will go to 90 meetings in 90 days. That's my goal. I have to have a meeting every day.

 

A lot of people stop doing that when they get out of recovery. They stop doing their recovery. I can't do that. I'm going to do it every day. If you don't, and you get side tracked, you're going to wind up right back where you were. So it's important for me to do that.

 

My daughter, she's so happy that I'm clean and sober. She told me the other day, "Mom why don't you go smoke some weed." I'm like, for what?” She said, "That way you can stay in VOA." She was afraid I was going to be homeless. She wouldn't want me to do drugs, but she said, "If you’re going to do something, go smoke some weed, and they'll make you stay in there longer." I said, "I'm not going to smoke weed. I'm going to get somewhere to live. God is going to see that".  I went and met with an advocator yesterday. I'm thinking "Ok, I'm going to move in a month.” He calls this place up and asked if they have any vacancies, and they said: "Yeah, we're evicting somebody." He tells me, "You can move in Monday." I couldn't believe it.

 

I said, "Thank you, God. I'm so happy. I'm going to be moving next week.”

 

 

About My Faith

I was given a Bible, and went to church every day when I was a little girl. My dad took us to church, a Lutheran church. I never really could get the Bible. I couldn't understand it. When I was a little girl, the Bible was so hard to read. The "Thou and thee..." It was crazy. I could never grasp it. One day I went to jail, and I got an Alcohol and Recovery Bible. I have that Bible to this day. I read the Bible plus the recovery version. It's in plain writing, so I can understand it.

 

You know, I had my doubts on God, on Jesus. When my dad died, he was beaten up pretty bad by three guys. He got a tracheotomy. He had cancer. When they stuck the hole in him, the air with the cancer made it worse. They beat him so bad he couldn't breathe. He didn't know he had cancer. They beat him so bad they ripped the Levis off his pockets to rob him for his social security check.

 

My son went to prison and told me, "Mom, will you please pick up the Bible and read it? I'll read it to you on the phone."  He called me 5 times a day, like he was living next door. He said "Mom, please, read the Bible. Once you understand the Bible your whole life will change." I kept telling him, "I can't understand it." I got into that Bible going in and out of jail. Going to church on Sunday, I said, "I'm going to get this. I'm going to get this."

 

When he went to jail this time, he would send me verses in the mail. He still does to this day. He gave me all his Bible stuff and I read through it like Psalms.  I'm really getting it. I think why I didn't get it before, is because I had so much in my head, so much in my brain. I didn't have no room for anything else. I was so bitter, so angry, and hurt. I couldn't grasp anything else.  Today I'm grasping a whole lot more.

 

I have the Bible on my phone. I read the verse for the day. I read the transcripts and what it says every day. I stay real positive, and give it to the higher power, my God. Every day I tell Him thank you. Thank you God, for letting me live another day. Thank you for letting me be healthy and strong.

 

Since I let all that go, I'm real happy with the way I talk, the way I think, and the way I carry myself. Don't get me wrong. If I were in a situation out there where somebody tried to hurt my granddaughter or me, I would definitely turn back into that home girl. But today I'm me. I'm a mom. I'm a grandma. I'm really proud of myself. I never said that before in life.

 

 

To Those Going Through Something Similar

Get the help you need, get in somewhere. This is what I tell the girls at VOA about addiction and recovery that don't want to stay. I say to them, “I'm 50 years old. You don't want to be me, and just now get it. Let that life go. Feel it in your heart. This is what I want. I want my children. I want my life back. I want to be happy. I deserve that in life. I'm not a bad person. If you really, really want it, you got your higher power. Even if you don't believe in God, if you really want something, go for it. Let it all go. Let the abuse, the rapes, and the drugs go. You will find what you're looking for. I never thought I could do that.” Do you know I've had so many girls stay in that program because of that? I break it down to them.

 

I've changed. When you change your life, and you know that your life is going to change, it might not be what you want right that minute, but it will change. I'm living proof of that.

 

I used to want everything right now. You're going to have that by God's power, by God's will. He knows when you're going to have what you need. He'll give you everything. But you have to take that step in life. That's what I tell the homeless people. That's what I tell the women at VOA, ‘cause a lot of them aren't homeless.

 

I go now, and I help the girls in VOA. I help the young ones, the ones that just come in.  When I get out I'm going to be a volunteer, for them and get a job. They're going to give me a job. So maybe I can get off of social security.  I have to volunteer two years. So I'm going to be doing a lot of that. Advocating for people and helping them. I'm going to be a very busy person.

 

One thing I do want to do is help this church. I'm talking to people out there, and I'm trying to get people help out there. I want to get something on the internet, to blast it out there, so people will see. I want to help a lot. That's what I've always done my whole life. I want to do that. To give back what I got in my life.

 

I know what's right and wrong in life now. I know I did a lot of this because I was told not to. I was a hard headed child growing up. My dad use to tell me "You're not going to do that" and I would do it. My parents aren’t here.  I would go see them at their grave site. They're watching over me, and they know I'm going to succeed in this, staying clean and sober. I know I am too because I look at my granddaughter, and she needs her grandma.

 

My son wrote me a letter and said "I love you so much. You're the best mom ever".

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