It’s getting better now. I was born in La Crosse, Wisconsin 32 years ago. My mom had her problems, did some bad things, but she’s my mom, you know? I never lived with my dad, but his mom (my grandma) is probably my closest family member. Dad and I don’t talk much, but he’s a good guy. When I was little, my mom took me to Georgia and I just hated it. Hated it so much I got on a Greyhound bus on my own at 6 years old and never looked back. That was the first time I ran away. My mom must not have liked Georgia much either because she followed me back to La Crosse two years later. We lived together sometimes, but like I said, she had some issues and her boyfriends had them, too. When they started touching me, I knew I had to get out. I was 13. When I left, I would sleep at a friends’ house, my grandma’s, even under a bridge if I had to. That was my first experience with homelessness. When I was put into the foster care system at 13, I met my foster family; they’re like real family to me though. My brother just got married! That was beautiful. Anyway, I only went to one or two foster homes before I was a ward of the state at 16. At this point, I was drinking and smoking every day and I knew I needed some help. I asked my case worker to help put me somewhere where I could get the help I needed. I did and I got better for a while. I graduated from high school. I went to college and got a degree to be a dental hygienist. Unfortunately, I was still into alcohol. I was getting into trouble, I had some bad boyfriends, and that’s what lead me to the day of the accident.
I was probably at my lowest point when I was 18. I was at my boyfriend’s house at the time and I got into some trouble with the cops. They searched my boyfriend’s trailer and found me hiding in the last place they looked, the dryer. I was arrested and put in the backseat of the police car. Once we were on the road, I managed to get my seatbelt undone and I jumped out of the moving police car. My head hit the ground first like a basketball and I was seriously injured. I was brought to the hospital in critical condition and went through multiple surgeries. They had to drill a hole into my head to relieve the pressure in my brain and I busted my jaw in 23 different spots. Luckily there was no long-term damages, but I did have to re-learn how to walk and talk again which was very frustrating and difficult. I was young and did dumb stuff back then. My case worker tells me I’m too hard on myself for what I did as a kid and I suppose she’s right.
When my mom died two years ago, I took it as a sign I needed to get back on track. I didn’t want to mess up as much as she did, and I don’t think she’d want me to either. I contacted Julie and we started looking for somewhere for me to live since I had recently split from my abusive boyfriend. We looked at a few shelters, but I knew I didn’t want to live in those places. I wanted a place of my own. We finally found a place and applied, they said I had to go on the wait list. In the meantime, I broke up with my boyfriend because he would hit me. I told him I was taking the car to move my stuff and he agreed. Next thing I know I’m being pulled over because he reported his car stolen. Julie and I knew I couldn’t get charged again, because if I did, there would be no way I’d get the apartment. Back when I was married I took the blame for something that happened and was sent to prison for 18 months with 18 months of parole to follow, and now I have a felony on my record. Because of that and my other charges, it made it even more difficult to find housing. The city housing authority denied my application at first because of the car thing., but Julie and I were ready to fight for it, and eventually, since I was found not guilty, I got the apartment. I’m the youngest one living there, but I don’t mind. I have some friends that will come over and we will play cribbage and some other games and just enjoy each other’s company. Even though my past was challenging, I learned a lot. If I were to meet someone who was going through what I went through, I would tell them to make sure they are going down the right path, and if you need help or you need to talk to someone, you should do that before you hurt yourself or someone else.
So yeah, I’d say I’m doing better now.