So I came full circle, back on the drag. In my absence faces has had changed, some were just older and more haggard, some were young, and not yet touched by the hardness of street life. A lot of my older friends had died. Including Brandy and Suzette. By this time seven years had passed since I had last seen my siblings, I thought about them every day, and missed them terribly. However, at the same time I was scared to see them, what would they think of me, would they still love me? Being back on skid row I despaired that I would ever see them again. I believed I would die, and they would never know. I would become a distant memory, a sister that was lost to them.
Back on the drag I hung out with my fellow addicts. I was back into using as soon as my feet hit skid row, A couple of friends got me high as a welcome home gift. To get my bearings I stayed with them for a few days till her man started getting loopy. I started the vicious cycle of using drugs, and chasing the high. In wainwright, alcohol was my drug of choice. However, because alcohol would cause me to black out, and lose control of my behaviour, it was a rare occurrence for me to drink, while on the street. The drugs I was using kept me from going through alcohol withdrawals, so I was not aware how tightly alcoholism had me in its grip.
I had nothing left, it was stolen by K.B. I just did what came natural to me after being hurt by a person I allowed my self to be vulnerable with. I looked for a client to do business with, some one who I would not have to be emotionally vulnerable with. However, I would not only be meeting a financial need, I would be building my confidence back up, that someone wanted me. My heart was broken, I really did not want to be there, but I resigned myself to the fact that I would probably die on skid row. The possibility of dying was always, in the back of my mind. It had to be, if I rested on my laurels, and relaxed my hyper vigilance, I could find myself in a situation that could end my life. As it was, the danger I placed myself in, even after assessing the situation was precarious enough.
Sometimes I would spend a couple days with pebbles and her man getting high, I really liked Pebbles. However, to them I was just another way for them to access drugs. They did teach me things about getting high though. I think if I knew how dangerous what they were teaching me, I would have had second thoughts about doing them. One of the things they taught me was to use your juggler vein for your drugs. A very dangerous practice, as many things could go wrong and kill you. A new girl showed up and pebbles took an instant liking to her. I could see and feel that I did not have a special spot in Pebbles heart, and it hurt. I left and no longer visited pebbles and her man. I would see them occasionally on the street, but I did not make an attempt to make a connection with them. It just reinforced in my mind that I was not loveable, and people only spent time with me if I had something they wanted to use.
I was to be on the streets this time, for about a year and a half. The winters were the worst season. Especially if you did not have a consistent place to call home. The cold was brutal. Standing outside and then going into a hotel lobby to warm up for a few minutes. The girls were not allowed to stay in the lobby long, as the hotel managers did not want the problems of the R.C. M. P. and the men looking for a girl to hire. More often than not, I did not have proper winter gear, and the cold would make my bones ache. Sometimes, I just wanted to find a place to cuddle up and go to sleep forever. I would think about it, then would shake my head and carry on with my life, such as it was. I would think to myself death would find me soon enough. I just prayed that it would not be a horrific experience.
I met a man that had lost his wife to cancer, and I ended up spending a lot of time with him. When I was with him we would drink together, and even though my alcoholism was in full force, street drugs were still my first drug of choice. However, for me to drink on the streets was extremely dangerous, so when I was working I only used drugs intravenously, I did not drink. I was thinking of my siblings more and more as I missed them so very much! I ended up leaving the streets and moving in with that man, and would go on road trips out to the Ocheese Reservation were he was logging. I was drinking out there, it was the only way I would stay out there and he knew it. He would buy me massive amounts of alcohol, even though it was illegal to bring it onto the reserve. My behaviour when drinking was so bizarre. I was having black outs more frequently, it seemed that it did not matter how much I drank, I was almost guaranteed to black out. I am of the opinion that when I drank my unresolved trauma was being re enacted out, and I would even regress to the age that was being brought forward in my subconscious mind. I can understand how it would be bizarre to someone who did not know the horrors my mind kept locked in a secret place. I suppose when I drank my mind took the opportunity to try and process the trauma.
One winter the man I was staying with and I went to Edmonton. We had an argument about something, I forget what it was, but I ended up going to a bar alone. I thought he went back to the hotel. However, he didn’t he actually went back home. The next morning I went to the hotel and they told me he had checked out. I was stunned, and I panicked what could I do, I didn’t want to stay on the street, it was cold and I was used to warm and comfort to a degree. I really wasn’t dressed to be out in this weather, I had running shoes on and no socks, no mitts no hat, and a old lumber jacket on. I was determined to get back to Dapp though and proceeded to hitchhike. It was really cold, the wind would blow mercilessly on the high way, and there was very little traffic at all! The temperature was 30 below, dangerously cold. It was 72 miles to my destination, I had a very long way to go, but I was determined, and I just put my faith in God that I would make it. I wasn’t afraid of freezing until about two hours in the walk. I was still tipsy from a night of drinking, and after being on the highway, In the cold, I was starting to sober up. The gravity of the situation was not lost on me, and tendrils of fear wrapped around my heart. Thankfully I did get one ride, and they took me to their house gave me socks for my feet and hands and a hat for my head, I was profusely grateful. They were an older couple and could not drive me all the way, but they did take me back out to the High way, after feeding me and letting me warm up.
I thought about my situation while I walked along the highway, and why I was willing to risk my life in such a dangerous way. I mean being with him was not the most ideal situation, but it really was better than being on the streets. My time with K.B showed me that being on the streets really was not what I wanted. I didn’t want to die on the streets. Even though, I had nothing material, I did have my life. I did not want some one to rob me of that too. The man I stayed with had expectations of me, and I really did not want to do anything with him sexually, but I really didn’t have a choice. The alternative was the streets, So I did what I had to do to try and secure a place to stay, off of the streets. I kept walking and finally made it to a restaurant, I was so close, but my legs were giving out on me and I could barley walk. I had walked about 50 miles, in the cold. The only ride I had was that one older couple. The highway was empty, only an occasional trucker would blow past me. I stopped at a store and asked to use their phone. They took one look at me and handed me the phone. I called the man I was staying with, and told him were I was, he was astounded and upset that I didn’t call him to come get me in Edmonton. I had a reason why I didn’t call him. I was afraid if I called him, he would tell me to go to hell and my one chance of getting off the street would be lost. He told me to wait were I was and he would be right there. He showed up about 15 minutes later, I had almost made it! Because I had stopped walking and was in a warm environment , my legs seized up and he had to carry me to the vehicle. I was shivering so bad, and my legs hurt, unbelievable pain!! But I made it I was going to a home were I would be warm, fed and safe, for a price I was willing to pay, even though it broke my heart and soul. My determination was so strong to stay off the streets, and try to make a life for myself. Any kind of life that did not involve surviving on the streets.
One night, for what ever reason, I was feeling extremely vulnerable and sad, I wanted to get high. I found a bottle of cough syrup, and although I never drank cough syrup before I have heard of people drinking it to get high. I thought what could possibly go wrong? For some one who had been around so much death and abuse, I could be extremely naive. I drank the whole bottle, I think it was benydryl. Well, I certainly did get high, but it wasn’t the kind of high I was expecting, it felt strange. I asked the man to come play a word game with me. I remember doctors playing that game with me when I was a child, and I wanted to play it with him. We laughed when we were done, I said your diagnosis is you are crazy, your words make no sense at all. He then said check yours, so I did. The words that popped out at me were like this in this order. “Dry, eyes, cry, tears, happiness.” The most freaky thing happen then, the phone rang and he answered it. He said it is for you. I was dumbfounded who in the world would be calling me here? I didn’t know any one that I gave this number to. Looking back, the strangeness of the situation still causes me pause.
I answered the phone with some trepidation, this can not be a good thing I thought. On the other end a young female voice asked “is this Tammy?’ I said “Yes. the voice went on to say that the man I was staying with, had been making some inquiries and had talked to her mom, who in turn asked her if she knew any children by the name of Tyra. She told her mom yes, I go to school with her and her younger sister and brother. I was in shock, seven years had passed by, and now I had found a lead. I didn’t want to just rush over there and overwhelm them, I mean what if they didn’t want to see me? I asked the young girl if she would be able to give this number to Tyra and tell her Tammy would like to speak with them all if they wanted too. She said sure she could call them and give it to them, she also said, “you know, they talk about you all the time.” I broke, the pain in my heart was almost unbearable. So much time lost, tears streamed down my face. However, they were tears of happiness not sadness, I looked at that piece of paper laying on the table with our word game on it. I thought to my self God truly does work in mysterious ways, and he always had a way of letting me know he was there.”DRY, EYES.CRY, TEARS, HAPPINESS.” The message was clear and I was grateful.
It was the next day that Tyra and the two younger ones called, I was crying and my nose was running, I was heartbroken about all the time that passed, but so grateful that I could once again hear their voices. They wanted me to come out there and see them. I didn’t drive and never would during my life time, I looked at the man and ask him if this would be possible. He said yes. I told them to ask Our Aunt and Uncle if that would be ok. As they were at the youngest girls Dads bother’ and wife’s place. They said it was fine and we made a date to meet up, I was so excited! However, I felt trepidation too. I was afraid I was setting myself up for a heartbreak I would not recover from.
The day we went to go see them we left early in the morning, me not being a morning person, I slept most of the way. I remember my two sisters opening the door and looking at me in shock. I was just as shocked; they were all grown up! They were no longer the little kids that I remembered! One of my sisters said “this is like a dream, and I am afraid to wake up and confirm that it is indeed a dream.” I said “you cant pinch me but you can give me a hug, with a big smile on my face.” All three of them rushed me, and we were all crying with happiness. They took us in gave my friend a coffee, then proceeded to take me around the house. They showed me their bedroom and then reverently opened the bottom drawer, and removed some tissue paper. Laying on the paper was a pair of pants. Pants that I had from when I was at YDC. They said we don’t have any pictures of you but we got these pants from the stuff they sent us, and we kept them all this time. I said do you ever wear them, they looked at me aghast and said no! “These are your pants it is all we have of you, we would just look at them and touch them,never wear them.” It was then that I realized I was not the only one robbed of a family by the system and circumstances, it made me so very sad.
I asked them if they knew were mom was, and they told me yes, ask auntie Val. I was shocked, mom just lived a short way down the block from the York hotel! I could have run into her or walked by her house and not even known it. I was to see my little family one more time, before an interlude of not seeing them again. Our lives were to intersect off and on through the years. I do believe one of the reasons for this is due to the fact that we were separated so much by the child welfare system when we were children.
When it was getting time for our visit to end, we all went for a walk on the gravel country road. All three of them begged me to take them with me. I couldn’t, how I wanted to though! I have to admit it did cross my mind, how I would be able to care of them on the streets. It crossed my mind, but I quickly tossed it away. As much as I wanted to be with them there is nothing in this world that could ever compel me to do that to any child. I really had no means of taking care of them, and I could be charged with kidnapping. I explained that if I ran away with them I could go to jail. I said I would see them again now that I knew were they were. That calmed them down, but the departure was still very painful for me.
I was so stunned that after my friend took me back to his home, I wanted to go the next day to see mom. He agreed, and I got to go see her. When I got to the house I was so nervous, She opened the door and I said Mom! Its me, she just looked at me and open the door and walked away from the .door. It was surreal, it was like I had only been gone a few hours, not years. The lack of emotion when we were reunited hurt, but I disregarded it, I was happy to be in her life. She was living with a iv user that was her man, and a prostitute that used one of the rooms. I was not happy with the situation, and vowed to find a better one.
“Fasten your seat belts it is going to be a bumpy Night” Bette Davis