If I had had a crystal ball when I was twelve to aid me in my decision to move to my father’s house, would I perhaps have made a different decision? If I had been able to see into the future, would I have remained living with my mother instead?
These two questions have been whirling around in my head since I wrote my last blog article, and my reflections on possible answers have revealed things to me that I did not even consider when I made my decision to move. Every time I write a new chapter of my book, memories seem to flood my mind. Only now, I can see them in succession, which was not the case when I was living them in real time and simply putting one foot in front of the other to slog through them.
My sister, just two years younger than me, and I were close, my parents’ divorce forcing us to stick together through all the craziness that constituted our lives at that time. It never dawned on me that she might be upset that I was leaving. In fact, I never thought about how my leaving affected any of my siblings or my mother. And when I did start to think about it, my heart hurt; it felt empty and sad.
I wonder now if they missed me.
Have you ever had an experience in life when you were suddenly compelled to do something and nothing anyone said or could have said would have stopped you? This was one of those moments for me. I did not understand it at the time, but I was simply desperate to find a better way to live. Humiliation, depression, and anger defined my world at that time. I needed something to stop the pain I was in, and that next step I took was all that I saw ahead of me. I was seeking solace.
I know now that living with my father at that time was meant to be.
With my expanded awareness, I can now see other times in my life when I did things that I look back on and am amazed about. I sometimes ask myself, “How in the world did I pull that off?” Moving from Salt Lake City, Utah, to San Francisco, California, in 1985 was one of those times. I had no plan, only $1,000 to my name, a four-year-old son, no job…and, yet, things somehow worked out. It was probably a very good thing I didn’t think through all of the details because it would have made me terrified to leave – when leaving was exactly what I needed to do.
It’s all well and good, with the benefit of hindsight, for me to say, in the year 2020, that my move to my father’s house as a budding teen was exactly what I was meant to do. But, I would not have said it back then or even a couple of years ago because, appropriate step to take aside, that move was hell! It was just a different kind of hell than what I had experienced while living with my mother.
Last year, I visited Salt Lake to attend my father’s ninetieth birthday party. I had visited many times since I had left in 1985, each visit becoming less painful as time went on.
This time around, I was excited and ready to face many of the people I had not seen in thirty-five years. Some I had not anticipated I would ever see again. But, they were there, nevertheless. This time was different, I realized, because I have healed the deep wounds of the past and experienced joy instead of pain. This time around, I felt lighter and happier than I could have ever imagined I would – even with all that Utah still represented for me. I was happy to see all those people from my past and to know that I was in a much better place.
Fortunately, I was able to visit the house I had lived in with my father and his second wife, the owner of the house. And the craziest thing is that this is where my father has ended up in the present. After a second divorce in the mid-nineties, he moved around quite a bit but has ended up back at this same place. He now lives in the lower level of the garage (converted into a two-story apartment) that he built while he lived there. His ex-wife resides in the apartment above him. How interesting is that?
It was strange to be back there after all these years, and it seemed to me that not much had changed except for this structure my father and his ex-wife lived in. The house looked as if it had not been painted in 40 years, the yard still wild and overgrown, as if it, too, had remained at a standstill for all those years.
This visit helped me to see how far I had come and made me feel deeply grateful that I had moved on from that life…
After returning from my trip, I had a very intriguing dream. Let me tell you about it.
June 6, 2019
Dream: I was in an old decrepit house that was reminiscent of the Emigration Canyon house I had lived in with my father and his second wife. A youngster was there who appeared to be only about ten years old and who seemed to have no place to go. I was very concerned. The dream shifted, and I was preparing to get into the shower to go to work. I was having to peel off two very tight, long-sleeved shirts that were wet. I struggled tremendously to remove them. As the shower was running to warm the water, someone at the door to the bathroom started talking to me and would not leave, so I could not get into the shower.
My interpretation: The reason I associated the house in my dream with the Emigration Canyon house I had lived in was because it was quite run-down, just as the real house I had recently visited was. The 10-year-old with no place to go was me, representing my lack of belonging. Removing the two wet shirts represented the struggle I experienced when I lived with my dad – a nearly impossible situation in which, among other things, I had no privacy. Someone (usually one of my stepbrothers) was always standing at the bathroom door threatening to barge in on me. Sometimes, a stepbrother would be standing at the bathroom window, trying to catch a glimpse of me as I was stepping in or out of the shower.
Interestingly enough, when I visited my father last year, I felt healed of that pain and as if the dream represented the pain leaving me.
***Setting the stage or laying it on the line***
I have scant memories of leaving my home in Pleasant Grove to make the move back to Salt Lake. I was in the middle of sevent grade and miserable, not knowing how I would manage to get through the rest of the year. I might even have been held back a grade because I didn’t have the capacity to speak up in class and get help when I needed it.
When I moved in with my father and his second wife, I was merging with a new family of “step siblings” in a home that was located six miles up a canyon. I was also starting over at a new school. This would be school number nine! Good thing I didn’t think this through. YIKES!!
Because we lived six miles up the canyon, the closest school was about 20 miles away. Each morning my stepbrothers and sister and I were picked up at the top of the driveway by the school bus and driven to and from the school, rain or shine, five-foot snow mounds or dry roads. It was a long trip each way, which meant I had to be up and ready much earlier than I had been used to.
The driveway to the house was quite long and unpaved, so, during the winter months, we could not park cars at the bottom, or we would never have gotten them back up until the ground thawed and the mud dried up. From the bottom of the driveway, 20 steep steps led down to the house. Carrying groceries, schoolbooks, supplies – anything – was tiresome, treacherous, and could be dangerous if you slipped or took a wrong step. Obviously, these steps were most dangerous to navigate in the dark. When springtime came, the steps were covered in so much mud, we had to wear plastic bags on our shoes.
I shared a bedroom with my stepmother’s only daughter, who was a few years younger than me. The rooms were unfinished and featured no carpeting and bare walls – no paint. I slept in the top bunk of a shared bunkbed. A small bathroom next to my room was not finished but had a shower, toilet, and sink – the necessities. The house had a septic tank system, and, so, the toilets did not flush the way a toilet connected to a proper sewer system does. This was a real problem with five very untidy boys and a mother who could not keep up.
The kitchen was always a disaster. If I wanted to prepare food or a snack, I would have to wash six loads of dirty dishes just to have what I needed – the appropriate counterspace and the dishes and utensils to work with. The dining table was rarely cleared of stuff. It seemed always to have leftover dishes, books and papers piled on it. The vinyl tablecloth over the table was usually covered in leftover food, sticky syrup, jam or juice spills from prior meals, and the chairs were mismatched and rickety.
As I sat one morning eating my breakfast, I remember watching one of my stepbrothers eating pancakes and letting the syrup run down his chin, neck, and chest, where it disappeared into his shirt. I was appalled that he didn’t notice this and that he never even attempted to catch it before it went further. This was pretty much the norm, my new norm.
The downstairs bathroom was where the washer and dryer were located and where huge piles of clothing waited to be washed. I know my stepmother did her best, but it would have taken Wonder Woman to keep up with this family of boys. The door to the bathroom was barely hanging on its hinges, and the toilet was the most disgusting thing I had ever experienced. I never liked to camp much and was terrified of having to go into an outhouse. That bathroom was just as bad!
Food had to go a long way with this giant clan, now nine. If we had meatloaf, it was usually more shredded carrot than meat. The milk was powdered, mixed with regular milk to stretch it as far as it could go.
I never understood why the Mormon Authorities guiltily urged their members and families to continue increasing their family sizes when (I’ll use my family as an example) these families couldn’t even afford to feed and clothe them, let alone purchase the necessities to run and maintain a household. Ten percent tithing was also expected, and again, guilt was at the helm. And then, these large families would have to receive church welfare just to feed all the mouths and keep the family going. This seems to me, now, to be entrapment at its finest.
Even at the age of twelve, I was thinking this. Even at the age of twelve, I found that the Mormon religion was not making sense. While I was certainly influenced by the way in which I had been raised, the principles of Mormonism did not consume me the same way they consumed my parents, my stepmother and her children, and the others around me. I can see now that I was much more naturally a free thinker even then. But, free-thinking did not mix well with someone who had difficulty speaking her mind and who was surrounded by seeming paradoxes.
Going to church was another activity I had to participate in. Every Sunday, we would all have to get up and drive to church, where we would have to sit through seemingly countless hours of boring meetings. We even fasted before services on one Sunday each month. I think church was the highlight of my father’s existence (besides working under the hood of a car), and he thought all of us kids should enjoy it as much as he did. I went along with this notion, but if I had had a choice, I would not have attended. This practice was forced upon me, but the good news is…I eventually escaped.
As I look back on that time in my life, I am startled to see some similarities between my living with my father and when I had lived with my mother. I also see many significant differences.
While many things challenged me, I also now see some benefits that came out of that time period. The environment, while chaotic, was more structured because my father worked, and my stepmother stayed home to tend to the household and the children. Regular meals, family gatherings, and birthday celebrations were the order of the day. Rules – many more than I had been accustomed to – were enforced rigorously. This situation was difficult for me. And as I started to get older, I began to test the waters a little bit more. I also began to exercise my will, especially with my stepmother, because she was only my stepmother and not my “real” mother. We clashed when I came up against her way of thinking, and this clashing created a wedge between us.
I realize, now, why I was meant to be there at that time. At least I stayed in school and had some social interaction. Whereas, if I had stayed with my mother, this would probably not have been the case. Having been a parent in the interim between then and now, I have a very different view of the needs of children than I did back then. My parenting has allowed me to see why I was meant to be there, as awful as it was.
I really don’t know what would or could have happened had I stayed at my mother’s…but I was to experience this kind of retrospection once again, at a later time…
I was now living in the same house with four very rowdy boys, who were unrestrained and who lacked discipline and an appropriate role model, their father (who was also my father) being the only male they could “look up to”. Needless to say, the merging of our two families was more like a setting-up of two camps with a distinct wall in between. The boys kept their distance from me, and I from them. I was an invader in their home, and they made it clear that I didn’t belong. I can certainly understand this now, but it was a challenge for the entire time I was there.
A short time after I arrived, the new family member, another boy, arrived on the scene. He was born with severe kidney issues that required several surgical procedures and constant attention from my stepmother. In addition, he had many doctor appointments and required a lot of patience from everyone. The already tremendous stress levels of this growing family trickled downhill to all of us kids.
Complying with new rules and experiencing new surroundings and yet another new school had become a perpetual, familiar pattern in my life. The situation at my father’s house was, in this respect, no different from similar previous circumstances…except, this time, I had initiated it.
This was certainly a thought-provoking realization! I chose this; it was not forced upon me. My decision to move didn’t make the transition any easier; still, I didn’t like it, but it was something I had to do.
As much as I disliked the oldest of my new stepsiblings, and because he was the same age as me, I paid attention to him more than to the others – especially when it came to how I needed to function in order to fit in at school. And, if I absolutely had to, he was there to ask for direction as I began attending Churchill Jr. High in the middle of seventh grade. Struggle and change were my lot. I adjusted as best I could, but my PE class was the most painful of all. Playing sports was not my strength, and I had no interest in being persecuted for screwing up. But, to pass, I had to participate.
I was extremely introverted and seemed to say all the wrong things when I opened my mouth or when there was pressure to perform, especially in front of the watchful eyes of my classmates and teacher. I was always the last one standing on the sidelines and ended up being assigned to a team reluctant to receive me into its ranks.
Home Economics turned out to be one of my favorite classes. The school had a lab with a kitchen, so we got to prepare meals, and eating them was always the high point of the school day.
I managed to make a couple of friends who lived near the school, and while it was rare for me to get together with them, when we did, we had fun. Pauline Z. was intriguing to me because her family was not Mormon…maybe Jewish? Her father owned a local Arby’s Fast Food Restaurant, and when I was there, we almost always had roast beef sandwiches. We loved watching Jane Eyre and listening to Boz Skaggs. Her mother was a bit dramatic, but nothing like my family!
I befriended another girl who was from Whales and most certainly not Mormon. She invited me to spend the night at her house up in the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains. Her mother, a stocky, round woman shaped like a tomato, was very gracious and gave me a towel and wash cloth for my shower, which I was not accustomed to having. The next morning, heavy cream and butter were served with oatmeal for breakfast.
Diversity was not something I was familiar with, so I was very intrigued and felt as though I had stepped out of the Mormon box I usually lived in.
Even now, I can certainly see the programming tracks that were being laid down back then. I am seeing a pattern emerge in that many of my friends ended up not being Mormon. And from what I experienced between 1962 and 1984, when I lived in Utah, I can see that most of the people my parents and stepmother knew and associated with were Mormons. Back then, if you were not Mormon, you were a minority. Being Mormon through and through was what I had thought was the norm for me, but I see now that this view of myself was slowly changing as I got older. I don’t think it was simply because more non-Mormons were moving into the state. I sense that, even then, I was being drawn to connect more with the outside world.
Utah winters are grey, foggy, cold, and, of course, come with plenty of snow and ice. Because I didn’t ski at that point, I didn’t feel connected to my home state. The long eight months of cold and grey really affected me, bringing me down even lower than my normal low.
One week before school was to let out for that year, I was sitting in one of my classes and staring out the large windows. Suddenly, it began to snow like crazy. It was the middle of May, for crying out loud, and we were having a blizzard! Tears began to form, and I was trying to hold them back until I got home. And, when I finally released those tears, the emotions flooded me. And, to top it all off, my period chose that exact moment to show up. What an emotional soup!
***Now what am I going to do?***
Eventually, blue skies and warm sun made their debut; school let out and summer finally began. This posed a new problem for me. What was I going to do all summer in that house with all those rowdy kids home, they and I having no place to go and nothing to do? I was six miles up a canyon, not the out-doorsy type, and isolated from any friends I had made at school. It was a chore to get either of my parents to drive me to friends’ houses because they all lived by my school, twenty plus miles away. Every outing had to be pre-arranged –every sleepover, library visit, and shopping trip had to fit into the household schedule (mainly my stepmother’s); my father was always working. She had six other children besides me to contend with, and, of course, I was not her favorite person.
I have a faint memory of my younger siblings coming up for a visit during that summer. It was comforting to have them around and to feel a familiar connection with them, one I didn’t have with my stepbrothers and stepsister. I had not seen my mother much at all since I had moved and missed her terribly. I remember her telling me she would come and visit, maybe take me for an outing. The day she was meant to arrive, I waited and got impatient, so I walked about a mile down the canyon to watch for her. She never came. I was so disappointed, I cried, feeling as though I had been abandoned and forgotten. Out of sight, out of mind.
Because I was going to church and attending weekly youth gatherings, I made a few friends at my church who also lived below me in the canyon. Through these connections, I spent some time at different neighboring houses, a special treat that took me away from the craziness of the Eagles’ Nest, which is what our house was called because it was the last house at the top of the canyon.
The teachers of the youth groups arranged a couple of trips for us. One of the trips was to Bear Lake on the Idaho-Utah border. I did not want to go, but my father forced me. I hated him and the entire trip. I had to participate in a volleyball game, and, of course, I was the worst player and got booed. Being so sensitive to any criticism, I sulked away and cried until one of the teachers came and tried to comfort me. I just wanted to go home. All the girls had friends and seemed so comfortable while I felt completely awkward and a misfit.
During the summer, my stepmother landed me a few babysitting gigs at which I was able to make a little spending money. The opportunity to be in someone else’s home where I could play music and rummage the cupboards for snacks was like a mini-vacation for me. One of the couples had the soundtrack to “A Star Is Born”, and I listened to it every time I was there. I was completely addicted! Another family had the “Dream Weaver” album by Gary Wright, and I got hooked on that, too.
As I listen to this music today, I can see why I loved that song so much. I liked the rhythm and the sound of the music and didn’t really pay attention to the words. Listening today, I find that the message is profound. The song is about being carried away on a dream weaver train…
I never really thought I had connected with the music of the 70s and 80s, but when I hear it now, I really enjoy listening. When I was much younger, it took my complete focus and energy just to put one foot in front of the other. Now, I can appreciate the music, feel it, and revel in it as if I were making up for lost time. It’s nice to know that it soaked in and now elicits very positive feelings in me! As I got older, I always felt left out because I wasn’t into the bands or the band members’ personal lives; I hadn’t gone to any concerts. My new appreciation for the music in my current life has made up for that.
***Prepping for eighth grade***
Summer was winding down and school was about to begin again. My stepmother took me school clothes shopping. Shopping was something I was born to do, but my idea of clothes and hers were worlds apart. I was not allowed to wear sleeveless tops or shorts or skirts that were too short (appropriate length was something my father decided). I was being raised to be a little Mormon babymaker. That was what Mormon girls were encouraged to do: Graduate from high school, possibly go on a mission, get married, and start a family – immediately – and don’t stop until you drop!
Living that way meant no hanky-panky – no premarital sex, no sleeveless tops, no short shorts, no tight skirts – nothing that might offer temptation to the opposite sex. If I were to be married in the Mormon Temple (which was what all of this nonsense was about), I would end up having to wear a special type of underwear that covers the shoulders and comes to mid-thigh. Hell no! Even at twelve, almost thirteen, I knew this was not for me.
Well, after the shopping trip, I ended up with some very high-waisted, granny-looking underwear, not at all what I would have chosen. I knew how to operate a sewing machine, and because my stepmother had one, I made adjustments to the undergarments, making them more to my liking. My rebellious side was coming out, and when we get home, I snuck upstairs, cut the waistband off all the underwear, trimmed off about three inches of material, and re-attached the elastic waistband.
My stepmom did end up buying me a two-piece swimsuit. However, with a piece of scrap material she had, she created an apron that attached to the top of my suit, which completely covered my belly and went all the way around! She got her way with the suit, but I got mine with the underwear.
When she discovered what I had done, she was not happy with me at all. She threatened to tell my father what I had done. If she ever did tell him, he never said anything to me. I was proud of myself for standing up to her and flexing my “independence muscle”. It made me feel more in control, something I had been lacking!
School began and I was in the eighth grade, and for the most part, it was okay.
I spent a lot of time at home in my room, listening to music. Because I was so isolated, time seemed to stand still. I listened to my records over and over – Olivia Newton John, Shaun Cassidy, Andy Gibb, the Bee Gees. I daydreamed about being a rich and famous singer one day. My fantasies were about the only thing that helped me retain a small flicker of hope in my heart that would allow me to believe that, someday, things would be different. Someday, I wouldn’t have to be here!
Now, remember that I mentioned that the driveway to the parking area was long and that 20 steep steps led down to the house? You might have thought it would have been easier to slide down the hill. That approach offered you two alternatives: Either you’d get stuck in a snow drift at the bottom or go over the side of the hill where our house perched and tumble down a steep incline about a half-mile long to the houses below.
In the middle of one winter, the pipes that supplied the house with water broke! The ground was frozen, and so much snow lay on it that the pipes could not be fixed until the ground thawed. We had no water to the house, which meant we could not do laundry, take showers, wash dishes or even our hands. This was an unmitigated disaster. I hadn’t signed up for this! I would never have chosen to live up in a canyon where the wild things were – too many variables to deal with above and beyond the abomination that was the house we “lived” in.
I must admit my father came up with a pretty ingenious solution: He ended up placing a large water tank in the house. Each day, he purchased gallons and gallons of water. The duty of all us kids was to carry those gallons down to the house via toboggan and pour them into the tank. Each one of us kids took turns pumping air into the tank for water pressure, which ended up amounting to a tiny trickle coming out of the faucets. This atrocity continued for a couple of months until the snow melted enough for the water company to come and repair the broken line.
Hallelujah, happy days, and a little less drudgery and suffering for all of us!
It had been a long year of many adjustments to being in that house with my father and stepmother; I didn’t feel as though I would ever feel settled in permanently. When the baby was a year-and-a-half old, I found out yet another baby was to arrive around Christmas time. I was aghast, confused, and to be honest, a bit disgusted. Wrapping my head around the state of that family and house had been difficult and the new situation – yet another baby on the way – was intolerable.
Adequacy was not something this home offered, and neither was time. Both parents were struggling with the responsibilities they already had and were stretched beyond their human limits.
My father was no better than he was when my parents were married. We all sorely felt his absence. Even when he was home, his “to do” list was so lengthy, he might as well have been physically absent. The strain was getting to everyone, and my father and stepmother argued a lot!
With a much broader perspective, I can see how the indoctrination of religious and social conditioning influenced those two individuals. It was obvious to me even then that my father and his second wife were among the group that took this kind of programming to the extreme. Luckily, I can now see that it was not only for their higher good, but for all of us in that house. Back then, I saw my father as very strong and someone to fear. But being able to reflect back on our relationship has allowed me to see him in a different light. I know now that not knowing and loving ourselves can really get us into trouble, the kind of trouble those two people were in back then.
***Expanding my tiny world***
The difficulty of blended families, especially with parents who are dysfunctional themselves, was like living in a psych ward. Sometimes (actually, often), I even felt like a mental patient myself. I had no one to talk to or to lean on. My father was wrapped up in his responsibilities and incapable of being concerned about me except when what I was doing affected his budget or schedule. It felt as though I lived with a pack of wolves, and I was a sheep, having to watch my back all the time, especially when I was trying to use the bathroom or get dressed – even in my own room.
The canyon was a small community, and many of the families knew one another. My mother and father had friends who lived up the canyon and whom they knew before they had split up. I spent a fair amount of time with them back then. They were a German family with a very different (to me, anyway) lifestyle. And yet, over the years, their difference had become commonplace to me, despite how that difference compared with my own upbringing and family. And their home served as another get-away for me from the insanity of the Eagles’ Nest.
The family had two boys and two girls. They had one large bathroom where the kids bathed. The shower/steam shower was large enough for an entire family, which was probably the reason it was so big. When I would visit during the summer for any length of time, I was forced to shower with the two older boys and the youngest, a girl. This family had no qualms about stripping down and sharing the shower room, and for that matter, didn’t see anything wrong with walking around naked. But for me, it was most disconcerting. I had not been raised to undress in front of anyone except for my sisters and my mother, and at times, even that was embarrassing for me. Even though this family’s lifestyle was so very different from what I was comfortable with, I came to see them as worldly and adventurous. Conversely, I saw myself and my family’s life as mundane and unadventurous. This intrigued me enough to stick it out despite my unease.
…one afternoon, I walked down to their house, which was about a mile from mine. The oldest boy and a few other local canyon kids, as well as a cousin of the German family, had all gathered on a neighbor’s patio to play spin the bottle. A couple of the kids were trying out cigarettes, and I remember taking a puff and choking.
Because three boys and three girls were playing, the likelihood of the bottle facing a boy was about 50-50. When it was my turn, I grasped the bottle and gave it a hard spin, and it stopped, facing the oldest boy in the German family. When I looked up, he was grinning from ear to ear…just waiting for me to come over to him and do the deed. He had always kind of given me the creeps, and so, somehow, I managed to weasel my way out of kissing him. But, I learned not to play that game again.
I share this story now because it relates to so many times in my life when I was in a position that made me uncomfortable, but I could not (would not?) stop it, share my discomfort, or leave. My earlier conditioning had stifled my voice, making it almost impossible for me to defend and care for myself. This would get me into much more trouble later…
***At the end of my rope ***
Baby number seven for my stepmother and eight for my father arrived just before Christmas 1976. My stepmother and father’s bedroom was next to mine, and the walls were thin. Because they kept the crib in their room, the new baby’s crying would deprive me of sleep night after night. I was not fond of him, and, yet, it was not his fault. I was angry that he was yet another mouth to feed, another member of an already overcrowded household. I was confused about the Mormon belief that one must not stop having children if they continue to come. Even in my youth, I could see that this mainstay principle of the religion just didn’t make any sense.
I had made it through the middle of ninth grade when things started to heat up even more so in the house. As I mentioned earlier, I had very little privacy and was always being barged in on, especially if I used the downstairs bathroom. I would often catch a glimpse of my stepmother’s second oldest son standing outside the bathroom window trying (I guess) to catch a glimpse of me. I shared this with my father on several occasions, but it didn’t change a thing.
Being in such a restricted environment seemed to create a sort of combustion with no outlet. I remember very few, if any, conversations about privacy, respect, and the basics of sex education. This unmonitored curiosity led to other situations in the home that were not ever dealt with. The juvenile occupants were left to their own devices.
One evening, all of us kids were left at home while my father and stepmother were out to dinner with my uncle (my father’s brother) and my aunt, who were visiting from New York. A fight ensued, and the oldest boy and I really got into it. I believe I was accusing one of his younger brothers of something, and my accusation escalated into a huge argument. Things got heated, the yelling started, and he lurched at me, shoving me as I stumbled into a table. The edge caught me in the side and cut into my skin. At first, I was in shock, and then the pain started. I was hysterical at this point and had no one to turn to. I slowly picked myself up off the floor, rushing into my bedroom to see the wound. I, indeed, had a small cut on the right side of my breast that had started bleeding. I wasn’t sure what to do, so I called my mother, and that’s when things shifted, and quite rapidly.
When my father and stepmother came home, they called a family meeting involving me, my stepbrother, my father and stepmother. My aunt and uncle waited downstairs while the four of us talked through the events of the evening. The tension in the house was at an extreme high, and, assuredly, my aunt and uncle felt it and left. To this day, my father still feels remorseful about how he reacted to the situation and continues to be quite displeased with how he handled things.
I can only assume that my mother had called my father and given him an earful. She could be like a fierce tiger when one of her children was in trouble. This behavior seemed to be in opposition to how I saw her when I was living with her – before I moved in with my father and stepmother and even after I moved back with my mom. The very next day, she arrived with a co-worker in his station wagon, ready to bring me back to Pleasant Grove, back with my siblings and back with the Dragon Lady.
***The takeaways ***
One of my biggest struggles in life (even into my 50s) has been that I wanted to be and look like everyone else; I wanted to blend in. I wanted straight hair, I wanted cooler, more normal parents, I wanted to be good at sports and make friends easily, I wanted trendy clothes, and I wanted to be well liked and popular…and, yet, none of those things happened.
What I didn’t realize way back then was that I wasn’t being true to who I really was by wanting or pretending to be like everyone else. I didn’t realize back then that standing out made a powerful statement. I was already perfect in every way, but I had to go through life feeling like the odd one out until I was able to receive this truth about myself.
I now know that I was created from God and that trying to be like everyone else only serves to separate me from me and me from God. I didn’t understand that what I had been taught about the God of judgment, cruelty, and lacking in forgiveness was just plain wrong!
To me, God is the sky, the clouds, the trees, the wind blowing the leaves, the birds and the ocean. When I think of God now, I see nature, and I feel its powerful and magical force interweaving with the entire universe and our very existence.
I had to find my way back to the Divine somehow, and my experiences in childhood and adolescence were the beginning.
My struggles with this flawed view of myself continued for many years to come, and it didn’t shift until I was well into my fifties. My journey to the center of my being, my journey within, my journey to finally being brave enough to stand alone and grow into who I really am, while difficult at times, has been revolutionary. I have realized that our relationships are not based on truth if we aren’t accepting of who we are at our core. Trying to live divorced from your essence is like trying to cram your feet into a pair of shoes that are way too small for you.
The outside world’s example of who we ought to be is so far off base for most of us, it is no wonder that we are depressed and anxious and have difficulty coping. We have to keep telling ourselves lies every day, and sometimes the only way to continue in this fashion is by numbing our senses.
When we truly know ourselves, we make decisions based on that knowing – better decisions, decisions that are meant for us because we know exactly what will work for us and what won’t. We listen to our intuition and know when a relationship is going to be a disaster, immediately, or when a job is a perfect fit, or when…well, you get the picture!
Without the sorting and sifting through, the tripping, the wandering and getting lost, sometimes for years, we just don’t know these things. This is our discovery phase.
Our lives here are all about getting dropped off on planet earth (being born), forgetting where we came from, figuring out that things don’t feel right, picking up the programming society and religion serves up, sorting some more and, then, coming to our senses – finally understanding that “this” (whatever “this” is for our unique selves) just ain’t the way it should be…for us.
Follow your heart, your tarry way, your passions, and your intuition, and don’t let anyone ever control you or try to deprive you of your freedom or your ability to express yourself in your unique voice. All of you is good and who you are meant to be.
If you are or someone you know is gravely ill or in need of Divine intervention and support, you can join my Sunday Group Healing Call. The Sunday Group Call is free and an opportunity to share in the healing power of the Angels in a group setting. You may also read about my healing sessions here and read my previous blog articles and newsletters by clicking here.