by Bree L.
I woke up on the ground at Seventh and Market. The check cashing place was on the corner, and I was lying next to a man I didn’t even know. He was just someone there. I fell asleep, woke up and started walking away. I had the shakes really bad and felt empty with nothing inside. I tried to figure out what to do because I had to do something. I’d been living on the street for twenty years and here I was at forty knowing I had to have a plan but didn’t have a clue. I kept walking.
I had to learn to tie my own shoes
I thought the shakes might get better if I walked away from where I was. I ended up in a women’s homeless shelter on Turk and Mason. A friend who worked there sat down and prayed with me. We were both Native American, I am a Navajo, Sioux and I don’t know her tribe, but she was a really good friend, and I could see she was sober. She gave me ten dollars to go to detox and I started thinking, “What would I do with two or four dollars?” It wouldn’t do me any good, but I held onto it until I got to detox. I stayed in the shelter until a space in a program came up. They let me stay longer knowing I was eventually going into a program.
I ended up in a Native American Indian program called Friendship House. There are therapists and psychiatrists on staff. They provide groups, individual therapy, spiritual needs, and Native American sweats. It’s co-ed and they provide services for all cultures throughout the states. They have clients from all over North America.
In the beginning, I had so far to go. I had to learn how to be a mom, how to tie my own shoes, and to remember to pick up my daughter. I learned to go to work every day and to get my small family on a schedule.
This was my second time at Friendship House. The first time I’d gone there for a guy and had stayed less than ninety days. I was not there for myself, and it didn’t last as I was drinking and pretty much an emotional wreck. I’d loved someone I couldn’t have, a man who loved his drugs more than anything. I’d had a daughter so there were many contingencies.
My life is full of blessings
My second stint at Friendship House, I was without children to bring along and there for myself. I completed the two-year program and afterwards, moved to Harbor House with the Salvation Army. It was 2003 and I’ve been there ever since.
I’m now a resident operations manager at Harbor Lights on Ninth and Harrison with the Salvation Army. I work to keep the building safe from intruders and I work with families that have been homeless or lived in their cars, helping them find permanent housing.
Today I live in an apartment with my dog. My daughter is twenty years old with a child of her own and she works in health care. I’m living a full life and go to meetings regularly. I must keep going forward so I won’t ever fall again. My life is full of blessings. I use sage and cedar as part of my Native American beliefs and pray every day. I’ve held onto my seat like they told me. The membership loved me until I learned to love myself.
On October 18, 2021, I celebrated eighteen years sobriety.