by Bree L.

Mill Valley was I first picked up when my dad, a Hayward cop, left our home.  I hit the streets and worked as a babysitter and with my money bought marijuana, but soon moved to alcohol. I was eleven and in fifth grade. At fourteen, I discovered cocaine even though I was drinking about every day. My freshman year, I quit school. 

A guy turned me out and I was soon arrested for prostitution. The judge sentenced me to live with my dad, who had moved to Oregon. He was working as a probation officer.  I lasted about a year with my dad before being sent to a foster home.  I soon got together with an older guy who lived in Washington.  I hid out with him until I reached sixteen, then I returned to Marin.  I tried to finish high school, but alcohol and drugs got in the way. Besides, I was too far behind with my credits to finish.

I tried to finish high school, but alcohol and drugs got in the way

I went back to baby sitting and couch surfing in Marin, and every so often had to return home to my mom’s.  There was a bedroom at her house, but she’d married a man I was not comfortable around.  He physically abused my brother and was sexually abusive to me. He did things like walking around the house without clothes.

To escape, I met and married a man from Santa Rosa. We were together for ten years and had three children. I worked as a plumber part time and stayed home to take care of my children. It seemed like everything would be okay, but drugs were always around and, of course, alcohol. 

After I had my first child, my one brother showed up at the door. He’d gotten drunk, drove his car and hit and killed a child by Mt. Tam high school. The police gave him a field sobriety test and let him go. He came directly to my house, but later was prosecuted for involuntary manslaughter.  Today, he’s a wet alcoholic and lives in Washington State.

Life caught up with me.  I acquired four DUI’s, lost my license, but kept driving. I was in and out of jail as a result. When I went before the judge the last time, he asked if I wanted a state or civil commitment. I chose the civil and was committed to the California Rehabilitation Center (CRC) where I could receive treatment in prison. My sobriety date is May 15, 2000, the date I left the CRC.  After that I was discharged to Walden House and subsequently to a residential treatment place for six months followed by three months of sober living. I had a long criminal history of forty felonies and twenty misdemeanors. 

My focus today is to live in balance, close to Mother Earth

When I had done my time, I went back to school. I’d finished high school in jail so I started back at Sonoma State and got a BA in Criminal Justice (a subject I knew something about).  I started out working at juvenile hall with young girls and taught at a probation camp for young boys. I also began teaching the drink and driver’s program. When anyone asks me to volunteer for something on the side, my response is always “yes.”

Currently my twelve step program is with the Red Road, a Native American spiritually based program. The Sweat Lodge is my church. There is a Zoom talking circle that meets in Santa Rosa on Tuesdays from six to eight. My focus today is to live in balance, close to Mother Earth as taught by my church.  My working the twelve steps several times over has been life changing.

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