cw: processing family-of-origin stuff that include abuse & gaslighting. if these are things that hurt you, too, or might cause feelings, take care of yourself in the best way you know how. even if that means not reading, or taking breaks, & whatever else you choose, i honor that, too.
good morning from my third official week on the east coast.
when i was leaving // fleeing salt lake three weeks & 1 day ago, i could not have foreseen this. that last week in salt lake was brutal. it was feeling like every tendril of survival i had ever stitched together was rapidly falling apart.
i had been living with my parents for almost two & a half months, & every week i saw my therapist, she was like, "Is there anywhere else you can go? I'm so worried about you. I'm worried you're not actually going to get out. So much of your energy is spent trying to survive the day to day, I don't know if you understand that." she was right. those last few days i was there, it became astoundingly & painfully clear.
living with my parents again helped me understand myself, helped me understand how i chose substances as escape as self care as survival, & how it really did keep me alive. i was able to meet these parts of me & grieve & forgive & offer compassion & gentleness. i also gained insight as to how i have been gaslighted & abused almost my whole up bringing, & definitely into my adulthood, & how this caused me to doubt everything i know to be true.
while living with them, it was acceptable for me to be interrogated about choices that i make for myself & Panda Pie, for these interrogations to have no purpose other than for me to internalize that i am incompetent & irresponsible, that i don't have a fucking clue about anything.
what is really upsetting is that that these abusive episodes were ultimately supposed to be a show of love, their love. but it felt nothing like the love i have nourishing & growing since i left their house. instead, it felt like they were uprooting everything i had spent years growing, & it was so painful & confusing, & it worked. i began believing that i was shit, that i was a failure, & maybe i don't know anything about anything after all.
it was also terrifying to realize how this pattern of manipulations has played out in my most significant intimate partnerships, to acknowledge that almost all of my abuse has started out as me searching for love & someone offering that love to me. love. how terrible for everyone to have cloaked their abuse to me as love. no wonder so many violences felt like home.
that last week i was there, old & deep trauma came back. so old & deep there are parts i had never mentioned to anyone, not even to my trusted & beloved therapist that i've seen faithfully for the past four years. & for the first time, i had the support of one of my siblings. this is what changes everything, because never before had there been anything or anyone other than me to tip the scale of truth in my family-of-origin.
i've tried over the years to talk about these things openly with my family-of-origin, but it only strengthened their case against me that i was crazy & untrustworthy. my parents were the ones to lead the charge, conditioning my siblings, who were so young & kept uninformed, to regard me in the same manner. i had little to no power in my position. i have always been the scapegoat. it was easier for my family to survive that way, & since i left // was pushed out at age 18, i've played a dangerous game of loving them while also healing on my own. but now, things are different. i am not alone.
all of this is to say, five days before i left, i unexpectedly fled from my parents' apartment. i spent the whole day triggered & disassociated, texting my sibling from what felt like the back of my mind, trying to plan when & how to leave without making things worse. i settled on the lie of leaving late to watch a movie. i had done this before & didn't come home, so it was nothing new. the nonchalance was key, & it worked. that's really all that matters.
the following 4 days were tethered together with tears & memories & feelings in the body & using all my spoons to feed Panda & get them to school. tethered together when i remembered to feed myself, when friends fed me in all the ways i needed, when Panda received care from our friends to grant me a much needed reprieve. & tethered together with reminders that this was a gift from the femmeiverse, an answered prayer, & that my Ancestors & Guides were carrying us through.
If you’d like to make an important donation to support this valuable work, there’s a Paypal link on the sidebar of my website. I’d really love to receive $50-$75 for my creative efforts & healing channeling today in the form of this post. Your energy exchange of $1-$75 makes all the difference! Thank you so much!
on top of all the emotional labor, there was tasks that required my bodily strength. i had a list of things i had to do, & with the help of my community, i was able to pare it down to 4 things: rent a moving truck, get my storage in order, say goodbye, & pack. i was reading tarot & asking & to make the money things happen, but in the end, i had to take out a loan of $500. i felt like i was fighting for my life, & i told myself we were gonna get the fuck out, no matter what it took.
the day before i was to get on the plane to my new life, i spent half of it talking with my deer femme-of-the-heart about all the things, & the second half condensing three & a half storage units down to one. it was a miraculous feat! i was quickly losing my voice, so i ate pineapple & couch drops & chased them with coffee. i rpomised my body it could breakdown later, but right now we just had to get through.
i hauled three truck loads of my life to the local thrift stores, a dresser i had had before Panda was born with their dad's love note to me scrawled & scraped out of the top drawer; the gigantic dresser my mom loaned me that i was all to happy to insult by giving it away for nothing; what remained of the dishes a once deer friend had gifted me for father's day; clothes & toys i no longer remembered i'd kept, & all the books that had somehow been ruined by mold. my signed copies of poetry books were the things i was most sad to say goodbye to, but my survival self made it easy after the nostalgia waned. after that, everything else was easy to let go of.
what did i keep? Panda's baby clothes, their stuffed animal babies, their legos, all my journals that i had thankfully stored in a plastic container (thank you future-past lettie!), what was left of my books, my new bed, & a smattering of things i realized i had room to keep. it was all such a blur, a hotter-day-than-i-realized, hungry, thirsty, back aching blur. & we did it. with only a minute or two to spare, we sped out of the storage place before they closed & locked the gates. it felt like a kind of victory. my list was half complete.
in the days leading up to my departure, i promised myself with every breathe, We are getting on that plane, no matter what. Even if all I have are the pajamas on our backs. gratefully, ultimately, it did not come to that, but i had to prepare for anything. the night before, the femmeiverse opened up & i was gifted 3 suitcases to add to our carryon, & spent all night packing & repacking our lives into these rectangles. i crammed all manner of books into any sliver of space in the suitcases, & dedicated one to makeup & tinctures & essential oils, with more books as padding. i think that was probably the heaviest of them all.
i slept for a few episodes of my comfort series, ate movie popcorn, prayed, & packed some more.
as the sky turned light blue & orange, i finished the last of my cramming, & decided how i wanted to show up for this grand date with destiny. i kept out my new purple dress, my boots, that wouldn't fit, & a few pieces of jewelry & hand held stones (amazonite for heart & the smokey quartz i used to help both my grandmothers die). intermittently, as the sun rose, i went outside & prayed for ease, to get on that plane, to have the strength to leave i also made the call to put on a full, sobbing-friendly, face, with black lips for my mourning. i have come to love how makeup is an art that conveys so much without a single word.
in the end, i cried & cried & cried. i didn't get to see most of my deerest friends, didn't get to eat at my favorite place, didn't feel complete in my goodbyes. i was also heartbroken about my parents & felt like a bad child. i had to call my friend when i felt i might falter, confessing what a bad child i was, but was reminded that it wasn't me that was bad--i was only trying to stay alive, to leave, no matter what.
i didn't want to leave my sibling, i didn't want to leave my femmeily, & i was angry. angry that the majority of my community, the people i loved & opened my precious heart to, never learned to love me in ways that would keep me there. that they betrayed me, again & again, & that it would probably never stop, only change shape instead, setting me up for deep grief & disappointment. nothing about this felt fair.
we barely made our flight because our departure coincided with a big conference that had ended, & everywhere were lines lines lines. we half walked half jogged to the terminal, Panda in charge of their backpack, pulling a carryon, their coat, & their babies, me carrying my shoes, another carryon, hauling my backpack, purse with snacks & documents, & a few Panda pillow-babies. we got to the terminal just as they were calling standby, & we boarded.
after pleading & begging someone to change their seat so we could sit together (because apparently i had to fight to the bitter end), i remembered that the ones we were leaving wanted a text to make sure we made it. so i obliged & sent out this beauty:
& thus, the next part of our journey began.
i realize now that i'm going to need to write about this in more than one piece, & that means for now this is going to feel unfinished, but this is already so much for me. i really wanted to write about how growing a new life & new self feels, but this needs to come first. because this is also part of the process of growing new things. nothing just appears, i should know that. this is how i am eating death to bring life.
thank you for showing up & carrying me through, for all the things that made me possible--this is how we survived & fought & won. i love you, & we are doing everything right. i trust you.
future ancestor lettie
Lettie Laughter is a talented & powerful healer, here to serve their communities near & far. Lettie is also in debt & needs help as a single mama getting things taken care of, like: transportation to school & future work, a steady stream of food, the phone bill, small business costs for High Moon Femme Tarot, a $500 loan to get out of SLC, a bed, blankets, pillows, & new clothes for Panda.
You can support their work by donating to their YOUCARING fundraiser, booking a tarot reading with them at High Moon Femme Tarot, or promoting their work. Please practice community care & help if you can, all love & support is deeply needed & appreciated!