Here. A Soft Sunrise.
My story is a story of traveling. I have traveled terrain that I did not wish to travel through. I have spent 51 years experiencing, reliving, releasing, and moving past events sustained over most of that time. I am now mostly at peace with the events that occurred. I have realized my responsibility to myself in owning my part.
I am the daughter of an engineer and vocalist. I was raised in a Catholic household much of my life. I am blind in my right eye from domestic violence that occurred in utero. I witnessed verbal, emotional, mental, physical, and sexual violence between my parents, with my dad and step-mom and her kids, and between siblings and blended family members, and personally, as well. I moved ten times between K–12th grades. I experienced two violent marriages and divorces; helped my mother with mental illness; experienced incest and violence from both parents; and was sometimes molested by or experienced attempted molestations by siblings’ friends or neighbors, the family doctor, or strangers walking home when my mom was too sedated to remember to pick me up from Catholic or public school. I saw police brutality, and I experienced the after-effects of my mom being locked up and given more than the legal amount of shock treatments after suicide attempts and child abuse. Her official diagnosis is paranoid personality disorder.
I started college in Kansas with PTSD and anorexia. It took me 15 years to get my BA in, you guessed it, Human Development and Family Life. I have worked with children for over 30 years. I have experienced human compassion, surprise, insights, great humility, satisfaction, beauty, wonder, and reverence in working with children and their parents, and the larger community of schools, 4-H, art classes, and the Boys and Girls Club and other nonprofits.
As I grew as an adult, I studied to write. I almost completed a degree in English, but I never declared it officially. I learned to hide what I was truly up to. I had to survive.
As it so happens, as the youngest, my mom placed me in some realm of importance beyond my human capacity. I think that she thought I could contain all of the chaos imposed upon her since she was a child. And although I had great compassion for her and wished to help her with every moral fiber of my soul, I could not keep her from the demons that haunted her.
And yet, she pursued me during the day, at my schools, when I was young—and in my jobs, at college, and in my romantic relationships when I was an adult. She called, harassed, lied, screamed, called the police, blamed me, fabricated stories, and violently tried to stop me from becoming a woman. She didn’t think I could survive the storm—just as she hadn’t…not completely.
As my childhood friend said, as he sat with us during a tense visit, he felt like he was catching a glimpse of a tiger in the grass, getting ready to spring. That’s all well and good, but I’m not prey. I’m not a fool.
I have a connection to the Divine. I was born for a reason. I am here. I am well. I am sitting in a heated, beautiful, and airy home that my boyfriend, rescue dog, and I rent, in a beautiful setting. I’m speaking my truth. I am surrendering to love and truth. I am giving up my story because it is imperfect, real, raw, simple, contained, expansive, and has a life of its own. In fact, I have felt owned by it every day.
Now, I sit with it, just as I sit in meditation with monks and teachers, in Somatic Experiencing, in Equine Therapy, in DBT, in EFT, in EMDR, in gratitude, in the stillness of nature, hypnosis, and online courses. I also sit with my full-time work with children, adolescents, and teens with challenges like those that I faced. I sit with all of the injustice in the natural world and in our treatment of animals.
I wish I were a super-hero. I can’t starve or feed myself enough, hate or love myself enough, write or paint enough, rebel or cuss enough, freak out or post enough to social media, be still enough—or whatever else to end the chaos of the world that I am so meta-aware of.
But I know I am enough. I am here. I am learning. I love this messy, complicated life. I am here for the long run. I am going to do all that I can to the best of my humble ability to make a difference—subtle or pronounced…with compassion, dignity, love, presence, awareness, and perseverance.
Previously Published: https://bertnash.org/clients-journey-punctuated-perseverance-determination/