Linda's Story

older woman with long white braids smiling at the camera

I have a big story. It’s not a wide open story like that.

My mother, she worked hard. She worked at the library. She had to leave us with people, so we were around alcohol. People so drunk, they were dying from it. My mother had baby sitters for us and stuff and anything I asked her for, she always gave it to us. She always found a way.

We moved to Philadelphia when I was in the fourth grade. I was overweight, fat. I used to get teased. I did good in school, but I kept getting pregnant. Because my mother didn’t teach me about a lot of things. She never really talked to me. Like a mother talks to a daughter. She just told me “you don’t have sex.” She didn’t teach me about the diseases and all that. She was old fashioned.  

I left my kid’s father because he was very abusive to me. I had two children at that time. I had my own apartment. I had married their father. It was very abusive. Very abusive. I needed an operation on my ear, where he had busted my ear drum. And it just so happened that my mother came one day and he had me in his arms, he was about to throw me out the third story window. So I left him. I went to move in with my mother.

I was 19 when my first daughter passed. I had her when I was 16, and she acquired aplastic anemia [a disease that causes your body to stop producing enough new blood cells, which can lead to excessive bleeding] when I was 18. It was very dramatic for me. There was a lot of blood. Not knowing how to save her life. And I had to accept that she was going to pass. That it was terminal, she would eventually pass.

When it happened, she hit her head on the steps. I took her to the hospital, and the next day she had all these little blood spots all over her head, all over her face. And they kept her. So what was dramatic to me, I didn’t know that – I always liked nursing and to do other things for people, but I never, till I saw my daughter, I never knew that you could go through something in stages of sickness.

When she passed, I buried her, and I didn’t know what was going on. I was in a complete daze. I felt like I wanted to jump in that grave myself. So I was walking around like a zombie. My mother couldn’t get through to me.I started using heroin. I was introduced to it by this guy I was going with.  You know, it always had something to do with a man.

I was homeless for six years, off and on, basically from the time I was about 29. Off and on, on the street, then I’d go back to my mothers. Then back to the street. It’s not like she would put me out, I’d go back to the street because the drugs were calling me, or the street was calling me. I don’t know what it was. Not wanting to apply myself… not knowing how. Because I’m so individualized that I want to do things my way.

It was terrible on the street. I was letting a relationship interfere with my life. I didn’t care after my daughter passed. I just felt that God took something from me. What am I supposed to do now? I didn’t know how to deal with it. She would have been seven, in a couple of months.

My story is that I just applied myself and let it work for me. Pathways did an awful lot for me. It just so happens that I came in today to fill out paperwork because I want to move apartments. I can manage my money and stuff now. That’s only through here. That’s only through Pathways that I’ve been able to do that, believe it or not.

Since I got with Pathways, I have to listen to suggestions. I found that it’s started to work for me. I have to listen to suggestions. I’m able to apply to myself and take whatever suggestions I may need – from the psych doctor, from the doc, from the social worker. I have a lot of people in my life right now. I got a whole lot of help going on for me right now.