GJ spent her first few years of life in an Alcoholic home, raised by a woman who was not capable of being a Mother. This little girl was sexually molested by her Mom’s boyfriends. When GJ was just six years old her Mom committed suicide by overdosing on alcohol and sleeping pills.
She was sent to live with her Dad and her brother. Her father was a strict, pious man who travelled constantly throughout the province of British Colombia to attend Christian outings. GJ couldn’t handle growing up in an authoritarian home environment or the constant travel. She longed for a place to call home. She struggled in school and dropped out before she completed Grade eight.
With her Dad’s permission she moved to Fraser Lake to stay with some friends. He let her go because he understood what his little girl had been through. GJ was not happy living with her friends in Fraser Lake so she moved to Prince George to live with a cousin. The neighbourhood she called home was located in what is commonly referred to as the “Ghetto of Prince George.” GJ started drinking, doing mushrooms and smoking weed. She had become what she refers to as “a fun party gal.” And this particular fun, party gal couldn’t stand following the rules her cousin had laid out for her so she didn’t. Her cousin couldn’t handle her and asked her to move out.
GJ chose to move into a group home instead of foster care. The group home she lived in had no rules and no structure, which suited her perfectly. She dated dealers who supported her weed habit. Up until this point in time the only drugs she did were mushrooms, weed and alcohol. At the age of 15 years GJ learned she was pregnant. The father of her child was a community worker who liked to break dance.
After her baby was born GJ went back home to live with her Dad. Her little girl had several health problems which included jaundice and tremors. GJ couldn’t cope with giving up her party lifestyle and because babies were not permitted in the group home she gave up her daughter to the Ministry.
Once she was back in the group home she began experimenting with drugs, tried crack and became addicted. This time around she dated rich guys who could afford to support her crack habit. It was not uncommon for her to need $1500 dollars to buy drugs, every couple of days. GJ overdosed five times in two months. She couldn’t cope with losing her daughter to the Ministry. She was not sleeping, eating or drinking water. She stopped taking care of herself. She was an alcoholic who was addicted to crack, crystal meth and speed. Her life was hell and her friends were all the wrong people.
GJ ended up in jail on assault charges and it was there that she learned she was five months pregnant with another child. Unable to cope with her pregnancy she set up an appointment for an abortion at the prison hospital. However, on the day of the scheduled operation she changed her mind and advised the staff that she wished to keep her child. She said no! The staff ignored her cries of protest, put her to sleep and performed the abortion without her consent. The abortion of her child was forced on her and she couldn’t cope. When she was released from jail she went wild, out of control wild.
Then she met the father of her son. He worked for a living and he didn’t smoke, drink or do drugs. She moved in with him, but she held fast to her old ways and continued to drink and party. They cheated on each other and he abused her, often. Soon thereafter GJ learned she was pregnant once more.
At this new juncture in her life GJ’s drug dealer boyfriend came back into her life on the day he was brutally stabbed in front of her. She visited him at the hospital where he gave her exactly 30 minutes to decide if she wanted to be with him, or the father of her child. It was not much of a choice as the father of her child, as well as her drug dealer boyfriend wanted her to have an abortion.
Then the father of her child told GJ that he wanted to start a new life with her. She wanted her baby and as they had been together for almost five years she decided to move to Salmon Arm to start a new life with him. A month before she was due he started drinking and partying. His abuse of her, escalated to new levels. She sought help at a women’s shelter where she gave birth to a baby boy. When her son was 3 months old she packed up her son, all of her things and moved back to Prince George.
She found an apartment in Prince George where she started a new life with her son. She quit drugs and alcohol and came clean. Then one of her best friends, her closest friend, hung herself in her sister’s closet. GJ went off the deep end and returned to her old ways and once again her life revolved around parties, drugs and alcohol.
GJ loved her son, but she knew that her son was not safe with her so she made the heart-breaking decision to turn the care of her child over to his father and headed to Vancouver. She tried to get a court order which would require him to stay in Prince George but because of her jail term he was her request was denied.
Once in Vancouver, GJ continued trying to take control of her life, without any success. She was thrown back into prison on previous assault charges and sent back to Prince George where she was given a choice of returning to live with her Dad, serving time in jail or checking into a treatment center.
GJ chose the treatment center but things did not go well because they were extremely short-staffed. The help she needed so badly was not there. Luckily, she met Kimmie Jensen, the Executive Director of the Society of Talitha Koum. She asked Kimmie to be her sponsor but at that time they did not have space for her. Kimmie called and talked to her every day and when GJ had a relapse she came to her rescue.
At the time of writing, GJ has been residing at Talitha Koum for three months. Kimmie is a huge part of her life and she wants her to be a part of her life, always. GJ is learning to live responsibly and be there for her son. She is dreaming of the day she gets the custody of her son back, and she knows that with the help of Talitha Koum that her dream will become a reality.
GJ experienced a few challenges adapting to life at Talitha Koum which included adapting to the structured program, becoming more accepting of others, as well as learning to live and get along with a bunch of women. She is working through the 12 step program and looking forward to reaching step six as once she has accomplished this it means she will be able to return to work and further her education. She plans to attain her High School Diploma through studies at a Native College. I knew that GJ had the beginnings of bright hopes for the future when she advised me that a Grade 12 from the Native College was at a much higher level than a Grade 12 achieved through General Education Diploma.
GJ says that Talitha Koum has provided her with much needed structure and an idea of what a normal life should be like. Thus far she reveals she has gained the ability to cope and has learned that it is truly special to be in a place where she is not judged or criticized by others. She has joint custody of her son, parental visits and she is dreaming of the day her son can come to live with her!