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From The Nightmare To The Dream

When I was eleven years, 1964, I was first introduced to psycho drugs to treat depression and suicidal tendencies.

A few months later I was introduced to codeine for pains I was having in my chest (later found out it was anxiety) and migraine headaches.

I was then tested, probed and put on every psycho drug and pain medication that come on to the market. This went on for many years.

My doctor and I were desperately trying to find a cure for what I was suffering with.

I endured needles and pins connected to wires, x-rays and shock therapy. To no avail. My illness just kept progressing and I was a total mess. I was by this time suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Bi-polar Disorder, Manic Depression, Suicidal Tendencies, Migraine headaches and chronic neck and back pain.

My pill intake was way above what it was supposed to be and I was completely addicted to them. I tried several times to get off them but the pain was so deadening and the rage periods were insane and completely out of hand. At that time even the doctors had no idea of the addictive quality of these drugs or anything at all about abuse having part in making us addicts.

We could find no answers at all in the medical field for my problems.

I found by 1980 I was taking 50 to 70 pills a day, anti-depressants, muscle relaxers, pain meds, meds to get me to eat, more too make me sleep. By the time I was at the weight at 90 lbs, skinny to the point of being only bones and very little flesh my doctor made it clear that if I did not get off the meds I would be dead in six months or less. The chemicals in these drugs were literally coating my organs and these organs were shriveling up as if I were 80 years old. I was only 25 at the time.

 

In 1981, 26 years old I came down from the pills, I locked myself up in my apartment for almost three months. I disconnected the pone and the door bells so I could not be tempted to call anyone to give me drugs. The pain was excruciating, I remember hugging my water bottle, eating chocolate, and drinking tea. I smoked mounds of cigarettes and a little pot. All I could do was pray that the pain would stop, cry and roll on the floor hugging this water bottle.

 

After being clean for about three months I began to see clearly that the world I knew was totally possessive, controlling and abusive in every way. I began to have flash backs but at this point I could see nothing clear enough to really understand and I did not know if these flash thoughts were memories or nightmares. I was totally horrified.

Filled with rage and could not focus or keep up with what was needed. I quite working but still could not make my life come together. My mind was scattered everywhere, flashing allot of the time of being sexually assaulted, beaten and tormented. Still nothing clear enough to talk about. I had three children and in my eyes I was not well enough to truly care for them. I was so emotionally messed up that I truly did not believe I could give them what they needed. My rage was so huge that I was totally horrified of myself and believed I would hurt or even kill them in a fit of rage. No one had to tell me I should not be raising them, I saw this more than clearly so I began to try to find a solution to keep them safe and cared for.

The day I went to my mother’s to tell her what I was planning to do two of my aunts were with her at the kitchen table. I will never forget that particular interaction. I had trusted these people and truly believed they would help. I was so wrong. After telling them what I had planned they told me that if I did not stay and raise my children, stop being such a baby and get back on track they would, what they called, Ostersize me from the family. Kicked out, never to return. I looked inside myself and then looked at them in horror. I made it clear to them that I was leaving because I knew in my deepest heart that in my present state of mind I would really hurt or even kill my children.

The next few weeks I spent arranging for my children to live with their father and his new wife.

 

A few months later I found myself on Young Street in Toronto, sitting in front of a hole they had just been digging to add onto the Eaton’s Center at Dundas.

 

I sat there and people passing by stopped and asked me why I was there. I told them my story and they gave me money, food, coffee and trinkets. I have no idea that this was called pan-handling until much later when other street people told me. In the small town where I grew up there were no street people at all. I was very naive to this type of life but I was adapting ok.

I watched the people as I sat there and noticed there were many teenagers who were actually living on the streets too. I was devastated that such young children would be in this position in life. It was very hard for me to believe. I understood why I was there being shunned by my family as well as being a danger to my children, but I could not for the life of me understand why they were there until much later.

One day a few of the street kids approached me and we talked. In fact they came back every day just to share time, stories and coffee. One day Anne, Dawn and Allan came and they were very upset. This was surprising because they had told me a few days ago that they found rooms and were getting off the streets. In their tears, they told me about the rooms they had rented in a house on Niagara Street. It seems that the owner of this house Charlie has several houses he rented rooms in and owned the Executive Motel on King Street as well.

These kids found an advertisement in the Toronto Star called and rented three rooms, one for each of them. They were all moved in and happy until they began to use drugs that were supplied to them by the superintendant of the house, Chuck.

Chuck was the superintendant but that was not his only job. Charlie had him giving heroin, speed and cocaine to give to his new boarders. In a few weeks they were hanging for these drugs so Chuck, the superintendant introduced them to prostitution. Annie refused to do this so Chuck beat the hell out of her. No one else argued after that until one day they came to me.  Charlie, the landlord would come to this house two times a week dropping off drugs and gathering any money Chuck had for him.

 

After hearing all of this and reading the advertisement in the paper, I began to think of what could be done. I told them I had a plan. I would try to rent a room in the house. Get myself moved in and see what we could do. I called the number in the paper and met with Charlie.

I was a singer in a band before I hit the streets so I knew I should get dressed for the part. I looked like a working girl, it was better in order to make an impression on Charlie. He jumped at the thought of me rending a room so I paid him, got a receipt and off I went. Charlie had no idea that I even knew the kids in his house.

The next evening I met Chuck. He was just a kid himself, only eighteen years old. We had a few tokes of pot together and I got to know him a bit. I realized he came from a very Christian family and decided to use the devil to scare him out of doing Charlie’s dirty work. I was not very street wise so I was flying by the seat of my pants and praying a great deal for answers and solutions to this dilemma.

I began to tell Charlie all kinds of gory things that happened to people who prostitute kids and he was getting terrified. So terrified that during one of my horror stories Chuck literally jumped up on his feet, yelled and jumped out the front living room window onto the street. The room was at street level so he only had a few cuts and bruises but it scared the hell out of all of us. Chuck was lying on the ground when we all ran out to help him. He was crying and saying how sorry he was for what he did and asked me if God would forgive him and call the devils off. I told him because he was so young that God would forgive but he had to stop working for Charlie and help me protect the kids.

We helped Chuck and took him inside to help him get cleaned up and tend to his wounds. During this Chuck cried and asked Annie and the others to forgive him. They did. Chuck gave me the drugs he had left and we all went to the basement where there stood a fire burning furnace. I threw the drugs into the fire and we watched them burn.

The next few weeks were heavy with eight kids coming down off drugs. I had some jewelry I had brought with me from my prior life. I remembered thinking that this jewelry was all that I had left of that time but selling it was needed. I took this jewelry to the pawn shop got a few hundred dollars and we went to buy groceries and necessities. We went back to the house. Allen had the idea to burrow holes in front of the doors and put crow bars in to lock all other out until we could figure out what to do when Charlie showed up. We did this and believe me unless we moved the crow bars no one was getting in through those doors. We also cleaned up the glass and put Ply wood where the window was and reinforced it so it was strong. Now we felt safe.

 

A few days later Charlie came to pick up money and drop off drugs to Chuck. He tried to open the door but could not so Chuck talked to him through the door. Charlie was angry when Chuck told him to find someone else to do his dirty work. Then he tried to break the door in but to no avail. He finally left.

Each month Annie would go with a few of the other kids to pay our rent. Charlie always took the money and gave Annie receipts.

One day Charlie came again with the police this time. We opened the door because we figured it was safe with the Police being there and they came in. Charlie was trying to push us around and when he came upstairs to talk to me he kicked in the door to my bedroom. I had been meditating so I jumped almost out of my skin and looked up, stunned. One of the officers told me we had to leave so I asked him if it made any difference that we had our rent receipts. He said of course, so I went to get the receipts out of the book I kept them in. Once the Police officer saw the receipts he asked Charlie if he signed them and Charlie said he did. The officers then escorted Charlie out of the room and house and told him that we had paid our rent and Charlie had no right to try to throw us out.

During this time and for the next few months I taught these kids, (by now there was eleven kids under eighteen years of age) how to budget, cook, clean, care for themselves, sing, dance, play my guitar, read, write poems and essays, keep a journal, meditate, yoga, panhandle and protect themselves from this ever happening again.

Spring was here and we all had to move on. The last week in this house we all got together at night and swapped abuse stories. They were all horrifying stories and we knew we needed help. Every kid in this house was abused in many ways, some worse than other but all of their stories were truly heart breaking.  We also dreamed about a time when this pain would be gone.  We all cried, screamed and laughed through this and felt better for doing so.

I had written a song while we lived in this house. I recorded it on a small tape deck and one night I gave it to them. They loved it and asked me if I could try to get it recorded. Their idea was to take the money from the song and open a healing center for abused kids to come to instead of going to the streets. I loved the idea and told them I would try, I had no idea how I was going to do this but I would try.

 

Heidi joined a country band and planned to go on the road with them, Annie had a job in a restaurant, Allan was going home as we helped him make up with his mother, Dawn and some of the others found a small apartment. It was time to go.

We got up the next day and parted ways in hopes of finding lives. I began searching for ways to get the song I had written produced and find some kind of healing and safety for street kids.

In the next few years I searched for help with my issues and getting the song recorded to help them. I went back to school and was in therapy every day. As well I put a rock band together in hopes of getting the song recorded.  Once in a while I would run into one of the kids or they would call me. They were ok and none of them went back to the streets.

In 1987 my doctor told me I had breast cancer and had to have my breast removed. All of my work had to stop in order to save my own life. I had several operations and radiation. Due to the fact that the cancer came back several times my doctor told me that I may only have three years to live. I was very sick for quite some time but as soon as I could I was back trying to get the kids dream to happen in some way.

In 1989 I gathered all the money I could and took the rock band into the recording studio to record Love’s Not A Sin. I figured I would try to get as far with the project as I could and even if I died the kids could go forward, so I worked harder to make this happen.

Some friends of mine helped me put the song onto a video form and I took it to the kids that were on the streets in 1990 and asked them if they would like the dream to still happen for them. They all wanted it so we put together LoveCry, The Street Kid’s Organization and had it turned into a registered charity.

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