Women drug and alcohol abusers recover at Lakeside's Kiva house

Anne's story

Most of the women at Kiva seem as though they could be anybody's slightly mischievous little sister.
  • Most of the women at Kiva seem as though they could be anybody's slightly mischievous little sister.
  • Image by Robert Burroughs

From the outside, the Kiva house looks like a magazine portrait of the tidy, all-American dream home. It sits on a two-acre lot on the outskirts of Lakeside and has a broad view of the foothills to the east, a brightly painted mailbox, and a large elm tree shading the front yard. The smell of cooking drifts from the kitchen window across the spacious yard, where an old dog naps in the sunshine and an energetic four-year-old boy on a bicycle happily terrorizes the winding walkways.

For the first year my husband gave me $300 a month to live on. That was enough to keep me in drugs for about two days.

For the first year my husband gave me $300 a month to live on. That was enough to keep me in drugs for about two days.

Inside the Kiva house (the name comes from the Hopi word for a ceremonial dwelling) things aren't as tranquil. There are about twenty women living at Kiva, all of them drug and alcohol abusers ranging in age from eighteen to about thirty-five. Some of the women have brought their children to live with them during their stay at Kiva — a luxury possible at only a handful of drug rehabilitation centers in the United States. Most of the women at Kiva, particularly those who have been there for several months, seem as though they could be anybody's slightly mischievous little sister, interested mostly in music, boys, and what's for dinner. And then some of the newer arrivals straight out of the detoxification clinic look as if they've been kicked down a long flight of stairs and the only two steps left were prison and death.

Anne is not so different from most of the women at Kiva. She values her privacy and so requested anonymity. Details from her story could fit into any of the other twenty stories you might hear there. She has a restless energy that in her past has found a thousand devious ways of expressing itself. She feels a debilitating anxiety in the presence of other people. She chain-smokes, and she suffers from a variety of health problems related to her addiction to alcohol and methedrine. She also has an almost brutal honesty, which is a result of having nearly killed herself with lies.

People who recall the Anne who first arrived at Kiva more than ten months ago describe a nervous, erratic, female animal with long, dirty blond hair, festering sores over most of her body, and a vicious, snarling anger that made it almost impossible even to speak with her. The Anne of today is an attractive, neatly groomed woman of thirty-four. She is more intelligent than the average person, which, for a recovering drug and alcohol abuser, is not particularly helpful. She thinks, plots, and schemes too much, and she often ends up outsmarting herself. She has exhausted most of the counselors at Kiva, who say Anne's recovery process after she leaves Kiva will be a long and difficult one. Yet everyone agrees it's a miracle Anne has gotten this far.

As she speaks, Anne is sitting in a chair in the yard overlooking the large winter garden, which has been her special project at Kiva.

The other day I was looking at a picture of my family at Easter. There were my parents, and my two brothers, and my sister. They were dressed nice and were smiling, which was unusual at our house. Then there was me standing away from the rest of the family, and I looked very angry. That was my role in the family. I was always angry. Sometimes I'd ask myself, Why am I so angry?

I grew up in El Cajon. My dad was in the navy, and he was gone a lot. He was an alcoholic, and my mother was an alcoholic, too. We didn't have very nice clothes, and our house was always a pigsty, so filthy it reeked. I couldn't bring any of my school friends over because I didn't want them to see how we lived. There were always a lot of strangers around because our house was kind of a hangout for sailors who didn't have anyplace else to go. There were a lot of vicious fights, and the cops were always coming over to break them up.

I never felt like I fit in at school, and I spent a lot of time alone, but my grades were pretty good before I started drinking when I was twelve. I started off drinking my dad's beer. I remember thinking, God, this is a relief. I drank alone because I didn't wanna get in trouble with my parents. My mom had lots of prescription pills because she was dying of alcoholism. She had Dexedrine to pick her up and Valium to calm her down. She could get just about anything she wanted from her doctors, plus my dad was a corpsman in the navy, so he'd bring lots of stuff home with him. I'd snitch my mom's pills and talk my friends into getting drunk and loaded with me. It was always the same. At the end of the night everybody else would be just a little bit loaded, while I'd be falling down drunk. Then everybody else would go home at ten o'clock, and I'd be passed out in the bushes somewhere.

By the time I was thirteen, I started missing school, and my grades started getting bad. I didn't feel comfortable at school, and I couldn't go home, so I hit the streets. I hung out at the [name deleted] Motel, which was a real sleaze-bag place and still hasn't changed much today. But I knew I fit in there. There were drugs there and people over twenty-one who would buy alcohol for me. I had this long blond hair that hung down in my face, and everybody thought it was funny that I got so loaded all the time. I thought I was cool because of the amount of drugs and alcohol I could use. My tolerance was pretty high because I was consuming so much, but I thought I really had some kind of talent, I thought I'd finally found something I could do better than anybody else. The people at the motel started calling me Crazy Anne, and that name has followed me around everywhere since.

By the time I was fifteen I'd been arrested several times for curfew, truancy, and being under the influence. I never did any burglaries or stole, and I was never violent against people, so the police would usually just pick me up, then let me go. But one time they picked me up for being drunk and loaded and put me in juvenile hall. I went through withdrawal from reds while I was there. I fought with the other kids, broke windows, kicked holes in the wall. I was scared, and I resisted everything anyone tried to do for me. So they put me in isolation and put me back on reds — the same stuff I was getting on the street, just a different dosage. Then I was okay, kinda.

After several weeks I started functioning in isolation. I remember that so well because it was so lonely in that little room. It had these tiny plastic windows that were so scratched up you couldn't really see out. It was like being in a little box. But anytime anyone tried to help me, I just kicked them in the face. I was like an animal. I told myself, no one understands me, all I want to be left alone with my drugs. I was in that place for six weeks. Not long before I left, I saved a bunch of the reds they were giving me, took them all at once, and got loaded right there in isolation.

When I finally got out, the judge released me as a ward of my aunt and uncle in Arizona. They were alcoholics too — if anything, they were worse than my parents. The only reason they wanted me there was that they had a kid who was four years old, and they figured I would be their babysitter while they got drunk. I figured that one out right away and came back to El Cajon.

I was on the streets for a while. Then when the judge found out that I had run away from Arizona, he wanted to put me in the juvenile detention center at Las Colinas. I told myself there was no way I was gonna let him do that. So I got married to this sixteen-year-old guy I'd met at the motel. That meant that under the law I wasn't a juvenile anymore, and there was no way the judge could touch me.

My husband was an acidhead, and he was high all the time. But he came from a nice family, wore nice clothes, and had been popular in school, which were all things I never had. We rented a little one-bedroom house in El Cajon. I got pregnant and had a little boy. His parents tried to help us, but my husband and I were doing a lot of acid and alcohol, and we fought all the time. I thought that's what people did when they got married. That was the only kind of relationship I knew.

My husband and I had been separated for a while when I went back to the house one day to try to patch things up with him. He'd cut all the legs off the furniture, hung Playboy pictures on the walls, and put red light bulbs in all the sockets. He'd turned our cute little house into a drug hangout. I got real mad at him, and we got into a big fight. As I was leaving, he pulled out a .22 rifle and pointed it at me. I said, "Go ahead, shoot me!" He said, "Turn around, bitch!" Like a dummy, I did, and he shot me through the neck. Later, at the hospital, I told the police it was an accident, and in a way it was. I don't think he would've shot me if he hadn't been high.

After my marriage broke up, I tried to take care of my little boy for a while. I went to my parents' house, and they said I could stay there for a while and sleep on the couch, but they really didn't want another little kid running around the house. They said they'd already raised their kids, and they didn't wanna go through that again. So I took my son and went to live with my in-laws, in Lakeside. They were nice people. They didn't drink or use drugs or fight all the time. My mother-in-law told me she'd help me take care of my son till I got on my feet.

I got a job as a house parent at the Home of Guiding Hands, in Lakeside, teaching the retarded kids. I worked there for a year, was clean and sober, and things gradually started getting better for me. Then I started drinking again, and little by little my life fell to shit. At work they had a lot of Thorazine and other downers they gave to the kids. I started snitching those, and I started drinking a lot more. I finally lost that job when I showed up for work drunk one day.

My in-laws had converted their garage into an apartment for me, so with a free place to live and somebody to take care of my son, I could really run with my addiction. I finally got in a big fight with my in-laws and told them to go to hell and left. I said, "I'll be back to pick up my son when I get my own place." But I never did.

Over the next couple of years I worked at every bar in El Cajon. I was drunk all the time, and sooner or later I got fired from all of them. I couldn't get a job anywhere. I might have sobered up enough to go to a job interview, but all the bar owners knew that sooner or later I'd be drunk on the job, and they wouldn't hire me. I was living in my car, and I'd be in the bars every morning at 6:00 a.m. It would take two hands to lift that first drink to my mouth because my hands were shaking so bad. To make a living, I started working as a prostitute. I didn't work the streets, though. I just worked out of the bars. I figured that was okay because I knew the tricks — I'd met most of them before in the bars. But the bottom line was I was selling my ass to support my habit. The bar owners knew what I was doing, and they encouraged it. They said it was good for business. I was only twenty-two, and believe it or not, I was good-looking then.

At first, turning tricks worked out pretty well. I stayed in a different motel every night, so at least I had a place to stay. I didn't need to eat. Occasionally somebody would bring a sandwich or something into the bar, but mostly I didn't worry about food. I just thought about getting drunk. We used to have tequila-drinking contests, and I always won. I never got sick, I just got real wasted. That was my cure. I never had to look at how messed up my life was, and I never had to look at how I felt. But as time went on, I had to drink more and more just to hide my feelings.

My business really started slacking off when I started looking like hell. I was still living out of my car. I had the shakes twenty-four hours a day. Convulsions. I had kidney and liver damage from the alcohol. I was twenty-three years old and knew I was dying.

I went to the El Cajon Valley Hospital's psychiatric ward. People would come in to visit me and bring alcohol. It was a big joke. The doctor there walked around looking confused all the time, and I was sure he was crazy. He gave me lots of medications, and if I wanted more I just had to tell him I lost my purse, or my pills fell in the toilet, or some other lie. He'd always give me more. I stayed real loaded the whole time I was there, and after a while I started checking in and out, like the hospital was a resort hotel or something. It was the place I went when I wanted to get away from the bars and the tricks.

Every time I left the hospital, besides all the alcohol I was drinking, I now had all these prescription drugs I'd take -- mood elevators, like chlorhydrates, they were my favorite. I thought it was okay because the doctor had given them to me. But I was abusing them. I'd get really wasted on the combination of alcohol and drugs. I finally got really mad at the doctor when I realized the drugs he was giving me were making me worse. I called him up and told him to go to hell. Then I threw all the prescription drugs away and went back to just alcohol.

I kind of sobered up for about a month and decided I wanted custody of my son again; I wanted to take him away from his father. So I got a lawyer, and my husband got a lawyer. On the court date, my lawyer didn't even show up. He probably knew it was hopeless. Afterwards, outside the courtroom, my husband's lawyer, who I'd gotten to know over the months, came up to me and said, "Look, you haven't got a chance of getting your son back. You can't live on the street, work out of a bar, drink like there's no tomorrow, and expect to raise a kid."

I said, "What do I have to do to get him back?"

He said, "You should clean up, get a job, or maybe get married. Have a respectable home..."

I went back to the bar, and I was telling my girlfriend all this. I said, "Maybe I'll get married. Maybe that'll work for me this time."

This guy sitting a few bar stools away overheard out conversation, and he said, "I'll marry you."

He seemed serious, so I figured I'd be serious, too. I went over his qualifications, right there at the bar. I asked him what he did for a living, and he said he was a carpenter. I was kind of leery of that because I knew it was seasonal work, and I knew these guys hung out in bars a lot. But he said he was a supervisor, and he made good money. A coupla days later we ended up going to Las Vegas and getting married.

Believe it or not, it seemed to help. I sobered up a bit to take care of our family. He had five kids, not all in his custody, and I had one not in my custody. Plus, I was pregnant when we got married. To this day we don't like to talk about that. It couldn't have been his, because the dates just don't add up. I was three months pregnant when I met him.

Anyway, I moved into his place and quit going out at night. On weekends we'd occasionally go out drinking together. No, that's not true. We went out every weekend. That was how he found out I had a drinking problem. He'd say, "Maybe you oughta slow down a bit." Or, "Maybe we should go home now." But once I started, I couldn't stop. My husband wanted to save me from myself. He wanted to feel needed, and I knoew now I used him for that.

We moved a lot. First we lived in El Cajon. Then we moved to Lemon Grove. He wanted to change cities to try to protect me, change me, because every time I went anywhere, even the Laundromat, I'd run into people I knew from the bars. He watched me like a hawk, but the more he tried to change me, the more angry he became that it didn't work and the more angry I got that he tried. I'd ask him, "What's the matter? Don't you trust me?" We fought a lot. He'd drag me out of bars. He beat me up and broke my jaw, broke my nose. I must've had a hundred black eyes. In a way I'm grateful to him because if it weren't for him, I don't think I'd be alive today.

We spent about $10,000 on lawyers to get custody of my son again. I cleaned up for the court battles, which we finally won, even though I'd been arrested for being drunk and disorderly in public during that time. After the court battle was over and I didn't have to worry about the probation officers or the Child Protection Agency officers stopping by all the time, I went right back to drinking. I didn't have to play the cleaned-up mom role anymore.

My husband was almost never home. We never talked and didn't have any kind of relationship. He didn't wanna be there with the five kids and a drunk mom, so he worked twelve hours a day. And for me, trying to take care of the house and all those kids started to seem like too much. So I thought, I'll take a little speed just to get my housework done. I'd always done some speed, along with all the other drugs, but this time I got into it real heavy. I was doing lines of crystal meth, and the lines just started getting longer and longer.

Once, a few years earlier, I'd experimented with heroin. I used it three times and loved it so much it scared me. I said, "Oooh! I better not mess with this stuff." Anyway, I knew how to fix, and I wondered what it would be like to do the crystal that way. It was getting expensive doing lines, and you waste so much that way. I figured if I could shoot the stuff, I could save some money. So I fixed and loved it. I really thought that would be the solution to my alcohol problem. I wouldn't have to drink anymore. I could shoot a little speed, clean the house, take care of the kids, and everything would be okay. I didn't even have to work the streets anymore because my husband was a live-in trick.

I thought crystal was the most wonderful thing in the world. Better than sex. It made me feel powerful, and strong, and self-confident. I felt like I could cope with anything. A lotta guys in construction use it because it makes them wanna pound nails all day long. And the addiction is really strong. You use it one time, stay up all night, and the next morning you feel horrible, real depressed, tired, achy, and the only thing to make you feel better is to do more crystal. I think crystal is the most addictive drug there is, and I've used them all.

Once my husband saw what was happening to me, he wouldn't give me any money because he knew I'd spend it all on alcohol or drugs. He said later he didn't know about my crystal habit, but I don't see how that could be true — one time he tore up the carpet in the bathroom to replace it, and he found my rigs. I think he just didn't wanna know. Anyway, he took my name off the checkbook, he paid the bills, and he even bought the groceries. The kids were all terrified of me because I was angry all the time and blamed them for everything. I had the seventeen-year-old boy to do the yard work and the fifteen-year-old girl to clean the house. After a while I didn't have any responsibilities at all. So I started dealing.

Mainly what I sold was quarter bags of crystal [a quarter gram for twenty-five dollars], up to a gram [for eighty dollars]. I'd sell maybe three grams a day. I didn't wanna get involved with anything heavier, because I knew lots of people who were, and they did lots of prison time, and they had to carry guns, and I hate both those things. The dealers who sold a lot of crystal were so paranoid they were like time bombs waiting to go off, and I couldn't stand to be around them.

I sold mainly to housewives and construction workers. There was one factory near where I lived, and every day at lunch almost everybody who worked there would be over at my house trying to score. Between twelve and one o'clock every day there were cars lined up down my street. I finally had to tell them to get together and send just one or two people over to score instead of the whole work force. If you ask me, crystal is an epidemic in San Diego.

I bought my stuff mostly from bigger dealers who were getting it right from the kitchens where it was made, but I saw some kitchens myself, too. There's one guy in San Diego who's got a fictitious business that's been in operation for six years that I know of. It looks real legit. He's got a big warehouse where he's supposed to be manufacturing something legit, and he's got a fleet of diesel trucks, rows and rows of trucks. If you open up the back of the trucks, he's got a kitchen set up in every one. I don't know why they're in trucks — maybe he figures if he keeps the whole operation on wheels, he can move it if he has to. He makes half the chemicals here in San Diego and half in L.A., and he transports the stuff all over the world. I believe he's the biggest dealer in San Diego. I don't know why he hasn't been busted. Maybe he's affiliated with the right people.

At one time, when we were living in Santee, I had a pretty good business going, dealing. I had money stashed all over the house. I couldn't tell my husband about it, and I had nothing to spend it on except more drugs. Dealing usually doesn't work out too well for users because they don't wanna sell their drugs, they wanna use them. The more money I had, the more drugs I wanted to do. It scared me, and I told myself, I better chill out on this. Finally, my husband and I took a trip to Las Vegas, and I blew all that money on gambling, which was a big relief.

My husband was still trying to save me. We moved again, this time up in the mountains, to Descanso. We thought it would be a safe place where we could start again. And for about a year everything was okay. I stopped drinking and using. I started a legitimate business in town and did well at it. I was even respected. Then I started drinking just a few beers, and it led me right back to where I was before. I didn't drink every day, but when I did, I made up for the time I'd been sober. I'd go on binges for three or four days at a time.

About this time, my mother died of alcoholism. One thing about drugs and alcohol is they take a long time to kill you. I watched my mother die in bits and pieces for ten years. She was bedridden -- actually she spent all her time on the couch. Her kidneys and liver were hardly functioning, and her blood veins were enlarged. There wasn't much she could do. She didn't even get up to bathe. All she did was drink and take her pills. I'd get wired up an go clean her house for her. I told myself I was doing it to help her, but it was really just a way of getting money for more drugs. I'd stop by, she'd give me a little money, I'd go buy a dime bag, fix it, then go back and clean her house. I'm ashamed to say that. I loved my mom.

The night she died, I knew something wasn't right, so I stayed there. My brother and uncle got in a big fight. There was always fighting going on in that house. Finally my mother couldn't take it anymore. She sat up on the couch and shouted at them, "Stop fighting!" A blood vein burst in her throat, and she bled to death.

After that I told myself I'd never put my kids through what I'd gone through watching my mother die little by little. I swore I'd never drink alcohol again. So I started slamming a lot of crystal. I told myself, if you slam enough of this, you don't need alcohol. I thought it was okay because I'd always wait until the kids went to school. I was practically throwing those kids out the door in the morning so I could get my fix.

A lot of people in the mountains have drug and alcohol problems. Like me, they couldn't fit in down in the city, so they'd go up there to isolate. In Descanso it seems like almost everybody uses crystal. I bet three-quarters of the women I associated with used crystal. On their kitchen shelf they've got their One-a-Day vitamins, their birth-control pills, and their crystal. It's just an everyday thing up there. Most people weren't shooting, like I was, but I was just a little farther along in the disease.

After a while I started feeling so guilty. I told myself I should get involved with some kind of community services. So I became a Sunday school teacher. I went to church almost every day, shooting dope the whole time but thinking I'm really not such a bad person. I became a Girl Scout leader. I'd slam some dope before the meetings, go to my girlfriend's house, and ask, "Do I look all right?" And she'd say, "You look just fine." That's the thing about speed, you can function as long as you're high.

I felt horrible and finally couldn't face those kids anymore. I had to drop out of the Girl Scouts. I started going to AA and NA [Narcotics Anonymous] meetings. I knew I had a problem and was trying to quit, but then I'd always find myself doing it again and wonder, what's wrong with me? I went to Kaiser. They have a really good alcohol and drug abuse program. My husband and I were going to a marriage counselor, and I still went to church almost every day. But I'd always go back to using, and I started feeling worse and worse.

Finally I told myself if I used crystal one more time, I was going to leave my kids, because I didn't want them to see me die the way I'd watched my mother die. I was clean for forty-five days. Then I went and bought a dime bag. I told myself it was okay because it was just enough to pick me up so I could get my housework done.

The next day I felt so guilty, I wanted to die. I packed my stuff and left. I told my husband I was just gonna go somewhere and use crystal till I died.

I moved even farther out into the hills and lived in a little trailer eighteen feet long with just my dogs and my drugs. I loved the name of the road I lived on. It was called Poverty Ridge. I tried to tell myself I didn't need anyone else, but I really knew what I was doing was sentencing myself to solitary confinement, just like when I'd been at juvenile hall. If anybody drove up the road to my trailer, I'd run up in the hills and hide.

For the first year my husband gave me $300 a month to live on. That was enough to keep me in drugs for about two days. I went from doing one gram a day to two grams a day and going crazy if I didn't get it. Sometimes people I knew would come out to see me. They'd look at how I was living and they'd say, "Anne, why don't you just stop?" And I'd say, "Because if I stop I'll have to look at what I've done with my life, and I'll shatter. I'm just gonna stay as high as I can as long as I can."

By this time I was getting real sick, physically. My kidneys and liver weren't functioning too well. I got toxic poisoning from the dirty needles. Every time I'd fix, I'd get an infection. I had sores all over my body and was swollen up like a balloon. I went to the doctor to get penicillin for the infection, and he told me, "Anne, you can't keep doing this to yourself."

I didn't care. The only thing that pissed me off was that it was such a slow death. I probably tried to OD five times, but I always woke up the next day, more angry than ever.

I started working the streets again to support my habit. I had a car, and I'd drive into El Cajon. I hated those trips into town. I hated doing tricks. It was horrible, but I'd tell myself, as soon as I'm done with this trick I can go get my fix. Usually I'd end up so drunk and loaded I'd lose whatever money I'd made.

There was an older guy who was kind of like a pimp to me. He'd set up the tricks for me, tell me when and where to meet them. I didn't have to give him money, but I paid him with sex. He's in his sixties and has a lot of money from preying on sick people. He has other girls working for him, and he has guys who rip off jewelry and stuff for him. He wears $500 suits and drives around in a new Lincoln Continental with a chauffeur — just a drunk he picked up off the street and bought some nice clothes. His front is a phony business that doesn't even make enough to pay the rent on the building. He'd been after me to work for him for a long time. When I finally came around, he turned real nasty. He knew my habit was bad and that I couldn't do tricks unless I was drunk. So he'd make me get down on my knees and beg for twenty-five bucks so I could go to a bar and have four or five stiff ones before doing the trick.

One day I was standing in front of the mirror trying to fix in the veins in my neck. The veins in my arms had all collapsed, then the veins in my legs. I went to the veins in my hands, but they had sores on them, so the only veins I had left were the ones in my neck. I'd been digging for a good vein for an hour, sweating, throwing up. Whenever I fixed in my neck, I always made sure I didn't look at my face in the mirror. But this time I made a mistake. I looked. I thought, God, I gotta do something. I told myself I'd go into detox just long enough to get my veins back, so I wouldn't have to fix in my neck anymore.

I'd been through several detox programs before, but somehow I never hung. I guess I wasn't ready to listen to anybody yet. I guess I'd always wanted to get clean for my family but never for myself.

I decided I'd try MITE's [the McAlister Institute] ten-day detox center in Santee. I knew Jeannie McAlister, the woman who runs MITE, because her office was right next door to the bar where I hung out, Petrucelli's, in El Cajon. The first time I called MITE, they told me the detox center was full at the time, but I should call back every day to see if I could get in. This one day I was at Petrucelli's, drinking, and I didn't have any money for the phone call, so I just walked over. I was pretty drunk, but I figured they see drunk people all the time. The woman at the desk at MITE told me, "You go into detox tomorrow night."

I got so scared. I went back to the bar and told everyone there. A bunch of them said, "You don't need to do that, Anne. You just need to quit!" But the bartender there was a friend of mine, and later that night she and I went out drinking together. She told me, "Yeah, Anne, you do need to go into that detox center."

I went into detox at 5:00 p.m. the next day. I spent all that day chasing a bag around so I could have my fix before I went in. I was all hung over and couldn't pack my bags or even take a shower.

Most of the time in detox I was in a fog. I don't even remember most of it. I know there were people there kicking heroin, getting violently ill. But kicking crystal, you get real vicious and angry. Later, Don [Gorham, program manager at MITE] — Detox Don, we call him — told me I was the most angry person he'd ever seen. All I know is that I slept a long time.

After I'd been clean for a few days, Don suggested I try Kiva after I finished the detox program. The drugs were starting to wear off, and I started to see how sick I was. I knew I couldn't go back into the world, and I was ready to try anything anybody suggested. So I agreed to try Kiva.

The day Don drove me over there, all the girls were outside taking a break, and as soon as I saw them I got real nervous. After living by myself up in the mountains or else being drunk whenever I was in town, I couldn't handle being around people. I had these sunglasses I wore twenty-four hours a day so people couldn't see my eyes — they were like a little mask I could hide behind. It was agony for me just to sit in the dining room with everybody, because I felt like I didn't fit in, just like when I was back in school. And I didn't take off my sunglasses for the first two months.

Everybody at Kiva works at least one night a week at MITE's bingo room in El Cajon. That's one way we give something back for our stay here, and it's one way we learn how to work around straight people. It was always hard for me to work there because I got so nervous around people. Anyway, one night when I was working at bingo, I just walked out. I left, went to a bar and got drunk. Then I started to get a line on a fix — but I stopped. I said, wait a minute, I blew it, maybe it's not too late. I called Kiva and asked if there was any way I could get back in. They said Jeannie was in her office, go talk to her.

As I was walking over there, my pimp pulled up in his Lincoln Continental. I don't know how he found me. He rolled down his window, looked out at me, and said, "Come here, baby. You need someone to take care of you.

Just then Jeannie came out of the door to MITE. She stood there for a second. I looked at her, then back at him, and said, "That's right, fucker, and it's not you."

Anne has been at Kiva ten months now. Her children come to visit her from time to time, and during the summer two of them came to stay for two weeks. Just recently Anne passed the high school equivalency exam, and she has taken aptitude tests to decide what she wants to do with the rest of a life she never expected to have. She thinks she'd like to work in the field of alcohol and drug recovery and was even offered a job by the sheriff's department after she spoke to a group of boys at the county's youth diversion program at Lake Henshaw. but she's worried that she might not yet be ready for the pressures of a job in the recovery field. She's waiting for the results of lab tests on the condition of her kidneys and liver — doctors have told her before that she may have to have a kidney removed and undergo periodic dialysis treatments. But the most important thing to Anne right now is that she has broken through the anger that has tortured her most of her life. She doesn't really know how that happened but suspects her anger was a tool she used to keep people at a distance. "I've always been a loner," she says. "I get scared when other people care for me. But I'm tired of being alone. Like they say in NA, 'An addict alone is in bad company.'"

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