© Copyright 2018 by Nancy Loera
This is a true life story told to me by a friend, I wrote it as close to how she told it as I possibly could. The biggest changes I made was to arrange some of the wording to make a few things more understandable.
is the life story of Barbara (not her real name). She is a homeless
Barbara wants her story told in hopes it will help someone to not make the same mistakes she has made. She states that if her story helps even one person then maybe she can believe her life is worth something. Just maybe, all this would mean something, her life wouldn't be a complete waste. This is her life story:
Barbara grew up in a farming town where everybody knows everything about everybody and what they don't know they make up. She was blessed to be born into a well known family and I don't mean known in a good way. When you heard her last name you would think trouble causing, fist raising hooligan. Her uncles and cousins liked to party and they liked to fight in their younger days. So she wasn't given a choice whether she wanted to fight or not. A lot of kids her age had parents that someone related to her had beat up sometime or another. So she felt she had to uphold the family honor, so to speak. Everyday. Without fail.
Her little brother had to endure the same thing, sometimes they would be fighting three or four opponents at one time. They never lost a fight. There were times when it would be a close fight and they would look like hell. But they were always the last ones standing. They searched Barbara and her brother out at first. But after awhile Barbara and her brother went hunting for them. It's what was expected of them and they knew no other way. That is how they were raised.
On weekends her house became a card room, her parents, uncles, aunts and their friends would play high stakes poker in their dining room. When she was nine years old she started earning spending money serving coffee and beer to the players. The ones with small kids would pay her to keep an eye on them while they played. It was a very profitable time for her. On a good weekend she would make $200 or more.
One of her uncles taught her and her little brother to throw dice. Her uncle robbed Safeway stores for his drug money. After he would get high he would come over to her house and they would play dice. Her and her brother would win all his change. Barbara would cut the articles out of the newspaper about his latest robbery and give them to him. When he eventually got busted he had a pocketful of those clippings in his jacket.
Most kids dream of growing up to be doctors or lawyers. Not Barbara and her brother, no way, not them. They dreamt of one day having their own motorcycle gang and being part of the Hells Angels. They wanted to rob banks, steal expensive cars and leave a trail of death and destruction as they climbed to the top. They ruled their street and alley with their bicycle gang “ The Scorpions”.
Even though Barbara was a hell raising, pot smoking juvenile delinquent she still got straight A’s and always on the honor roll list throughout school. She probably would of graduated high school with top honors, but she thought she was too cool for school. She tricked her step mother into signing for her to take the GED test. Which she passed with flying colors. Then she tricked her into signing Barbara out of high school permanently. Her mother wasn't too happy about that, but it was done and there wasn't much she could do.
When she was 15 years old her step father kicked her and her two brothers out of the house. Her older brother was 16 and her younger brother was 11. Her mother did nothing to stop him. Her little brother went to live with their father, her older brother moved in with an uncle and Barbara lived on the streets. That's where she remained until she met her kids dad and started staying with him and his parents. She had just turned 18. It was a very abusive relationship. She got her ass kicked daily. Even if the cops were called his parents would tell them everything was fine and they would leave. She was stuck in that hell for 13 years. Until one day when the worthless bastard knocked their 4 year old daughter down and was kicking her in the stomach. Because Barbara wouldn't give him her last $10 so he could buy heroine. She decided right then and there that was enough. It was one thing for him to beat on her but he would never hurt her kid again. She had him sent to prison for 16 months. By the time he got out she had full custody of her kids and a restraining order against him. He tried to violate that order a few times, she would have him put back in prison each time. Eventually he left them alone. He ended up shooting up too much morphine and died.
The first time she did drugs she was 14 years old. She didn't start with pot or alcohol. She went straight to the hard stuff. Crystal Meth. She hadn't even smoked a cigarette yet. She loved crystal. It made her feel like she could conquer the world, it also helped promote her bad ass image. That same year she became a pothead and started drinking. She didn't start smoking cigarettes until she was 16. That was the legal age for cigarettes and for some reason thatnshe can't remember she waited until the day of her 16th birthday to light up her first Marlboro 100 cigarette. Go figure on that one, because she sure didn't give a damn about the law concerning anything else. She has been smoking that brand for 38 years now and will more than likely have one in her mouth on the day she dies.
When Barbara first started doing crystal she would snort a line. Eventually she started doing cocaine. That was and still is the love of her life. Even though she hasn't touched the stuff in 29 years. When she was 19 she started shooting up. That was a dark time in her life. She see's that now. But at the time nothing and no one mattered except that needle and the drugs. There are patches of that time she couldn't tell you where she was, who she was with or what she was doing. Months of her life are lost to her forever. She continued this self destruction until she turned 25 and found out she was 4 months pregnant with her son. Barbara completely stopped doing drugs and drinking alcohol. Luckily her son was born healthy and the 4 months of cocaine abuse during the beginning of her pregnancy didn't damage him.
She stayed clean for six years at that time. She gave birth to four kids during that six years. When her youngest was 8 months old she met a man. His name is Jorge. (Not his real name) He was 15 years older than her. Barbara had been living a secluded life up until she put her kids dad away. So the attention Jorge gave her was like a drug, she couldn't get enough of him. After six years of being clean Jorge gave Barbara her first line of crystal meth. It was even better than she remembered. She decided then and there that just doing a line every once in awhile wouldn't hurt. She believed her kids weren't being hurt by it. She thought that as long as she stayed away from cocaine she would be fine. She swore to herself that drugs wouldn't rule her life, no, she would rule over the drugs. And so it began.
Barbara hardly ever saw her older brother or either of her parents for years and still don't. But she was very close to her younger brother. They had went through a lot together and always had each other's back no matter what. Her little brother started smoking and dealing weed when he was in kindergarten. He started getting locked up at the age of 14. First juvenile hall and then jail and eventually prison. But no matter where he was they remained close. He would get out for a few weeks or a few months, if he was lucky, before he went back in. Even though Barbara has a lot of relatives, she considered him her only family. The last time he got locked up he went to San Quintin. Even though he was in prison they still called or text each other every single day. He had what they call a “smuggled in” cell phone. He was there a little over 12 years and was scheduled to be released in May of 2017. Sadly he didn't make his release date, he died in his cell on March 27, 2017. Barbara considers that the worst day of her life. She still can't think about him without crying. She says there is a big hole in her heart and she doesn't think it will ever be better.
(Note from Nancy: at this time we had to take a break so Barbara could pull herself together, her grief over losing her brother is heartbreaking.)
After Jorge gave Barbara that line of meth she maintained herself pretty good. She kept her habit under control for a couple of years. Her kids were happy and healthy, her relationship with Jorge was sporadic. She found out he was living with a woman and she was his side piece. She says she didn't care, he was the first and only man she truly loved with all her heart and she was not giving him up. One day she was getting a tattoo covered up on her shoulder. It was a stupid tattoo she had gotten on a drunken binge on her 18th birthday. A friend was covering it with a rose tattoo. While he was doing this his brother came over and asked if they wanted to smoke some meth. Barbara had never even heard of smoking it. Shooting it or snorting it, yes, but never smoking it. He cut a piece of aluminum foil and dumped some meth in the center of it. He put a straw cut in half in his mouth, put the lighter flame under the foil where the meth was and inhaled the smoke with the straw.
She watched them both do this and then they asked her if she wanted a hit. She remembers her adrenaline started flowing, her palms started to sweat and she could feel excitement bubbling through her. Finally a new high. She thought it couldn't be any worse than doing a line and definitely a hundred times better than putting a needle in her arm. How wrong she was. She can't believe how stupid she was in that moment. She should of known better, after all she had been a drug addict since the age of 14. She might of been a newbie when it came to smoking meth but she was a seasoned veteran to using drugs.
They showed her how to heat the meth up without burning a hole through the foil or turning the dope black and ruining it. When she exhaled the smoke she had sucked in through the straw her hair started tingling. Barbara's whole body hummed with the effects of the drug. In her drug induced mind she felt as if this was the first time she truly knew what it felt like to be high. She couldn't believe that she had been doing it wrong the whole time. She had been missing out on the greatest buzz ever. She somehow felt cheated by all the time, money, friends, family and other things she had lost or given up for a substandard high. When she could have been feeling like this instead. From that moment she was hooked on smoking meth. She believed she had found her euphoria.
Things gradually got worse in her life. Her kids were still happy and healthy but Barbara wasn't. She was chasing that high that she had experienced the first time she smoked meth. She believed she never again felt that mind riveting glorious high like she felt after the first hit that first time she smoked from that piece of foil. She convinced herself that she would feel that euphoria again if she just kept chasing it. She is afraid it might not ever happen again in her lifetime. That thought saddens her tremendously. Barbara thought she had kept her drug use a secret from her kids. But she was the only one fooled about that one. She did manage to get her kids raised in spite of her drug use. They each have good jobs and their own homes.
Barbara wishes she could say the same for herself. She continued her affair with Jorge, who also believed that smoking meth was the only way to do it. He eventually left the woman he was living with and they became a couple. It was OK for a few years, Barbara was happy and believed Jorge was happy too. They had been together for 20 years, living together for 8 of those years when his family decided they didn't want Barbara living in the family home anymore. It was just her and Jorge living there at that time. Jorge’s brother had gotten really sick and lost both of his legs. He was moving in and decided he didn't want Barbara there at all. So she was kicked off the property. Jorge did nothing to stop this or to stand up for her. She started living in the long dirt driveway leading to Jorge’s house in a motorhome. It was summertime and she had no electricity or water. The bathroom didn't work either. But her love for Jorge and for smoking meth kept her living that way. If she needed to use the bathroom she would have to wait till dark and then go down the street to a grape vineyard to do her business. She filled up a five gallon bucket with water and used a large cup to pour it over her. This is how she stayed clean and washed her hair. She basically starved because she had no way of buying food or cooking it if she did. She couldn't go into the yard at all and had to watch as all the young whores in town paraded in and out of the house she had once considered her home.
Jorge eventually hooked electricity to her motorhome and got her a one burner camp stove. So she was at least able to stay cool, have lights and eat whenever she actually had food. Barbara lived in that driveway from June until October of that year and then had to move the motorhome or lose it. Some kind of law or something makes living that way illegal. So Jorge moved her and her motorhome to some friends of his who had a couple of acres of land. The motorhome was parked under a shade tree with an old shed full of garbage on one side and a big pile of garbage on the other. Barbara still had no running water or bathroom. One night the creak of the cabinet above her bed woke her. It was just in time for her to watch a large rat jump from the cabinet. It landed on her chest, stared into her eyes for a couple of seconds. It then jumped down to the floor and continued into the front of the motorhome. She didn't sleep too well after that happened. One of the couples that also lived in a camping trailer on the property fought endlessly. The owner of the property slept all day and then played his stereo so loud every night that the base shook her motorhome.
Barbara lived there until early March. One day she was looking for AA batteries for a flashlight. She remembered putting some in a box she had stored on the dash of the motorhome and went to find them. She pulled back the curtain she used to block the sun coming in through the windshield. Right when she started to reach for the box a movement caught her eye. She looked down and there lay a humongous snake having his lunch. She says this because of the rat tail hanging from his mouth and the bulge in his body that resembled the shape of a rat's body. She closed the curtain, turned and walked out the door and never lived there again. She did go back once to get her things out of it. A possum had taken it over from the rats and snake and had made its huge nest inside the mattress on her bed.
She had no other choice but to return to Jorge's house. She doesn't live inside the house, instead Barbara lives in a one room shed on the property. She again has no running water or bathroom. But she still has Jorge and still gets to chase that meth smoke everyday. She has to sneak in the house late at night after Jorge's brother goes to sleep to take a shower. If she needs to use the bathroom she goes to the field or sometimes if she begs enough Jorge will take her to use the bathroom at a store in town. She still gets to watch as the town whores go in and out of the house or as Jorge pulls out with them in his pick up. Barbara says she doesn't love him anymore and feels more hatred towards him than anything else.
It's been almost two years since she was kicked out of Jorge’s house and Barbara still lives in that shed because she has no place else to go. Chasing that high chased everybody that cared for her away. So she sits there in her little room day, after day, after day. She says if she is lucky someone will get her high. Jorge supplies her cigarettes and buys her a cold soda every once in awhile. She believes this is the life her choices condemned her to. She feels as if she's just an insignificant blip on a computer screen, that she don't matter to no one and has wasted her life on a man that never loved her and a drug that loves no one. She says she still hasn’t caught that high that she has been chasing since that first puff of meth. She doesn't think it ever really existed. Barbara states that she can only hope that someday she will have a home again, a life again, a family again. She prays that all this nothingness will end someday.
(As I was recording Barbara's story she had me stop three times and step outside of her room so she could smoke some methamphetamine. When I would return to her room her eyes would have a primal look to them. It scared me a little bit. I felt so awful for this woman as she spoke of her life. She hopes that someone on the verge of doing drugs or already doing drugs reads her story and it helps them to make better decisions than the ones she made. A couple of months after my visit with Barbara I received a phone call from her. She has been clean for 50 days and has been accepted into the housing choice voucher program. She will soon have her very own home once again. She is especially excited about having a bathroom.)