I was forty-five before I realized I never had a hometown or a high school class or even a house to call home in my childhood. The following are my answers to the question “Where are you from?”
I am from a little cabin on Whidbey Island, in Washington State, that my family called home despite no indoor plumbing. I am from the scent of campfire smoke mingled with seaweed and salty air while I watched ferries and fed the gulls. I am from wondering what the world was like beyond the sound.
I am from being homeschooled after sixth grade without any books. I am from never going to high school or having any teenage friends because of my parents’ choices to move and keep me out of school. I am from learning to hide so people wouldn’t take my parents to jail for having four kids who were supposed to be in school. I am from learning to lie to keep my parents safe.
I am from being beaten for listening to the radio. I am from sneak listening to the radio. I am from memorizing every word of every song. I am from trying to be a good girl who couldn’t stop dancing and rocking to music no matter how much she was beaten. I am from driving fast and rocking out to music on the radio.
I am from being the oldest sister trying to protect and herd my siblings into a better life. I am from lonely college days where I didn’t know what to say on dates or how to pass math and science classes with my limited grade school education. I am from dropping out of college and going Down Under to see the koalas.
I am from being raised in purity culture and fundamentalist religion. I am from marrying a gay man who loved me better than many straight men treat their wives.
I am from deconstructing my religion and breaking up after 30 years of marriage to set him free to be himself while continuing the friendship because he is my best family.
I am from never cracking an egg until I was thirty-five to making over a million decorated cookies with royal icing. I am from telling stories and baking cookies to bring smiles to children.
I am from traveling through ten Canadian provinces and forty-eight, not very United States. I am from getting locked out of the truck in the rain. I am from making love in a thunderstorm. I am from knowing the maker of the thunder and trusting that She can protect me.
Yes, I am from calling God “She.” I am from feeling the Spirit blow through my hair and soul — and knowing that She is not safe, but good.
I am from going to church for fellowship, but I won’t stay if there happens to be abuse or inequality in any form.
I am from discovering what narcissistic abuse is to refusing to give the narcissist any power in my life. I am from writing articles to help others through my blog, Little Red Survivor.
I am from realizing that we do not need the approval of others. I am from owning my mistakes and finding my voice and discovering myself. I am from making art that has meaning for me.
I am from forgiving everyone who has ever harmed me — especially my parents. I am from throwing my grief into the fire while I collect the ashes to rise.
I am from listening to a friend who is hurting for hours until I know they are safe. I am from celebrating differences of opinions and styles of living.
I am from standing up for women, LGBTQ+, people of color, refugees, immigrants, and outliers because I know the pain of being judged for not fitting in.
I am from shouting love wins from the mountain top and telling the world we do not have to follow the rules of the patriarchy or the narcissist to belong.
I am from having family members who lie about me to overcoming narcissistic abuse and finding true family.
I’m all about making the table bigger so everyone has a place.
I am from breaking the family rules to write my childhood memoir. I’m from preserving all the beautiful, messy stories and holding the people in them close to my heart. I am from ignoring the critics because the critics don’t count.
I am also from writing historical fiction because the truth lies not only in facts but in the wonder of a story.
I am from snuggling with a cat on my bed under the fairy lights. I am from listening to audiobooks until I fall asleep. I am from enjoying mochas and stars and music even when I am alone. I am from finding peace with being single. I am from feeling good enough to be myself — wholly myself with no qualifiers because life is good — even in solitude especially if you have a cat.
I am currently from Portland, Oregon, but I’ve made a home in many places. From Washington to Michigan, to Connecticut, to Louisiana. The thing that inspires me the most is the dawn. I carry my home within my heart.
Thank you for listening to where I’m coming from.
Peace and freedom to you!
PS If you are struggling with narcissistic abuse, I hope my writing helps you realize that you are not alone.