A book on the horrors of drug addiction could easily be written about Bobbie’s life. At the early age of ten, she had her first taste of alcohol. “I remember adding vodka to my grape juice in my little Tasmanian devil cup.” Not long after, at age thirteen, a friend introduced her to speed. The powder in a baggie set her on a path to ruin.
It was hard enough with her parents being divorced and Bobbie bouncing back and forth between them. Her mother, a binge drinker, had left for Alabama with a boyfriend and lost custody of her. Bobbie had always been closer to her mother, which made her the ‘Black Sheep’ at her father’s house. Between that and the influence of speed, she began running away. “If I didn’t like something, I would just leave,” she remembers. This would set a pattern she would repeat throughout her life.
One year later, at age fourteen, Bobbie was arrested for fighting. She was placed in a home which gave her structure and consistency. “I was doing okay until I started going back home on weekend visits,” Bobbie recalls. “My sister and I started snorting speed.” By her sophomore year, Bobbie was back at home and hiding her addiction well. “But inside I felt rotten, like a garbage can.” Her drinking was a problem, too.
To compound all of the negativity, Bobbie became pregnant with her first son. Six months after his birth, Bobbie’s mother, who had finally found sobriety, passed away. Now Bobbie’s addiction to speed escalated. Her relationship with her child’s father was toxic and rife with domestic violence. Two children later, with a total of three, Bobbie sought safety at a domestic violence shelter but eventually moved back into the toxic household. After being stabbed in the arm and cut on the neck in front of her children, Bobbie took her children to a domestic violence shelter in Big Bear and found some refuge in classes on dysfunctional families and therapy. She was hesitant to testify against her husband, but realized she had no choice when they informed her that he was going to be released.
No longer using, Bobbie finally got her first apartment at age 26. Considering herself sober because she was off speed, she was still drinking. Then, again, she was reintroduced to speed by a co-worker. Her apartment became the scene of many parties, and she was also dealing drugs. Her neighbors consistently complained, and the police visited regularly. “I had an inheritance of $56,000, which I blew through in six months. I used some of that money to send my kids to my ex-husband’s sister in Mexico for a short vacation. After some dishonesty by their aunt, they were trapped there for ten months,” Bobbie remembers. “I wanted to clean myself up before they came back.” Instead, Bobbie’s drug use escalated as she tried to get her kids back. She lost her apartment and became homeless.” I stopped talking to my kids. It was too hard,” she says. “I was doing ecstasy and whatever drugs I could get; I had no one for support.”
Bobbie ended up moving in with a man she met. At that time, her sister was trying to facilitate the move of Bobbie’s children back from deep in Mexico. She was eventually successful. However, Bobbie’s outstanding warrants caught up with her in an ironic way. “I woke up one morning to deputies and guns,” she says. “I was arrested on Mother’s Day, and I didn’t even realize it.” A further irony was the fact that at the moment she was being arrested, her kids were coming back to the U.S. It was bittersweet.
In jail, Bobbie stayed sober and behaved, “I always did well in structured settings,” she now acknowledges. After being released, she stayed with a friend managing in her words to, “stay dry but not sober.” In Big Bear, after an altercation in a house she was staying in but told to leave, the police took her aside and told her to leave Big Bear. “The cops knew me by name then,” Bobbie recalls.“Big Bear was my sanctuary, but I turned it into the devil’s den.” She moved in with her sister, where her children had been staying. Bobbie managed to stay sober for a while.
With her life patterns repeating, Bobbie met a man and became pregnant. The ironic timing repeated as well. “I was then arrested on a warrant in San Bernardino.” The man she was dating was now taking care of her three children. “I used to tell men that I was damaged goods,” she exclaims. “When I was in jail I found out I was pregnant.” This situation spiraled down as her boyfriend was arrested for stealing cars. Out of jail with no place to go, Bobbie and her children went from motel to shelter to motel. When her boyfriend was released, they managed to find an apartment that was affordable. She had her baby and isolated herself. “I was trying to stay sober,” Bobbie says.
With her fourth child just four months old, Bobbie relapsed again. Not surprisingly, there were domestic violence issues. “He went back to jail, and I lost the apartment. It was then I realized that I had a problem with speed and needed help,” Bobbie admits.
Still using and bouncing from friend to friend, her sister had given up on Bobbie. While at a shelter in Skid Row, someone called the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). At that time her three oldest children were at her sister’s, and her baby was with her at a shelter. DCFS approached Bobbie and her baby daughter and realized the obvious; Bobbie was under the influence of drugs. They took custody of her baby and all three of her children who had been living at her sister’s. Bobbie’s children were separated and placed in homes in Corona, Lancaster, Granada Hills and West L.A. This was around mid-June of 2014. Bobbie made the commitment to become sober and drug-free on June 13. “That’s the moment I changed,” Bobbie says. “I was hanging out on San Pedro Street in Skid Row crying.”
Knowing the only direction left to go was up, Bobbie found a 12 step program and began working the program at Mini-House to achieve complete sobriety. By September, having stayed drug and alcohol-free and employed, she was awarded custody of her baby daughter by the judge. “I didn’t want my baby to affect my program, so I found a daycare for her. She was comfortable there from the first time I took her,” Bobbie says. “I was six months inpatient before going into sober living. That was the process.”
Through her 12 step work at Mini-House, Bobbie encountered Rebecca, her ‘sobriety sister.’ Rebecca was in HomeLight Family Living, a program offered by The Midnight Mission to families transitioning out of homelessness. “My sponsor requested a referral and my DCFS worker was very helpful,” Bobbie remembers. “It was hard for me. I had never had all four of my kids while sober. I remember moving in on October 15, and my youngest daughter saw the playground and was so excited. It felt normal like it was my home.”
Now, with full custody of her children, a job and money saved, Bobbie’s life is stable and happy. “I go to meetings. I work with my sponsor. When there’s time, I would like to be more of service,” she says. “I’m trying to transition out of HomeLight, yet it’s difficult to afford a two bedroom place with my children,” she admits. Yet, she remains hopeful. “I have a good amount of savings and a job. I am forever grateful to The Midnight Mission for programs like this. I was given a chance when I really needed it.”
Safe, secure and sober in The Midnight Mission’s HomeLight Family Living Program, Bobbie has a job to support her four children. She is able to be a good mother to her two sons and two daughters, who range in age from five to eighteen years. “I’ve come full circle. I’m a fully functional member of society now,” Bobbie says. At age 37, this is the first time she can say that.
For more information on HomeLight Family Living, visit www.midnightmission.org/homelight.