So, this is 49.

{Trigger alert for childhood abuse and strong language related to such.}

I remember being a young thing – like, seven – and realizing that I would one day be the same age as the adults around me. This came as one of those nerve jangling, bone rattling shocks to me. I can remember where I was – in my grandmother’s house, sitting on the couch in the t.v. room with a plate of Sunday dinner in front of me on the t.v. tray, watching The Mutual Of Omaha’s Animal Kingdom.

I’d spent the afternoon up a willow tree imagining that I was the Queen of the Jungle, and the big collie dog my uncle owned was my lion. I’d picked a scab and used my own blood as war paint on my face and arms. I tied willow withes around my wrists, ankles, and forehead as ceremonial dress. I’d plucked these gorgeous bottle green and blue beetles off the bark of the tree, and let them crawl on my arms, pretending they were magical jewels.

I got told off the for war paint, and for ripping branches out of the tree, but whatever. I was used to that, and after scrubbing my face, and discarding my ceremonial garb, I sat down in the t.v. room to eat dinner while the grown ups gathered around the dining table to do the same.

Grown ups weren’t anything I wanted to be. I wasn’t one of those kids who couldn’t wait to grow up. I couldn’t wait *to be free*, true, but the thought of becoming ‘like them’ was soul shattering for me.

Even then, even at seven, I’d formed the very strong opinion that grown ups were assholes.

They were cruel. They were mean-spirited. They would sit around talking about one another, sneering about one another in terms that made my little ears burn. They hit me. They did far worse to me, too, and at the tender age of seven, I desperately wanted two things very urgently: to be deemed ‘good enough’ that they would stop doing those things to me, and to never ever be anything like them, ever.

I’m grown up now, and I’m almost nothing like them.

We can’t come through and be raised by people without picking up some of who they are. It’s impossible. I see them in myself, and while that used to be a source of despair (because, seriously, my people were *not nice people*), it has come to inspire my deepest, most important work. I do what I do in order that I may root out, examine, and transform anything within me that doesn’t feel like it *belongs to me*. Self inquiry is important to me because I want to see myself as clearly as I can, as clearly as that woman pictured above can possibly see, so that I do not react to the world out of my shitty childhood conditioning.

I am in the business of turning myself inside out regularly so that I might turn the the contents of my consciousness over and over in my hands, know it intimately, and keep only what serves me. That’s what I do. I do it out loud. I do it where you can watch me do it. I do it with a fierce determination that is probably pathological. Because I still, at 49, want two things very, very urgently. I want to be ‘good enough’ that I will not ever be hurt like that, ever again – raped, neglected, sneered at, beaten, thrown to the wolves, abandoned, discarded, controlled, manipulated, used, etc. and I want to be nothing whatever even remotely like them. 

The first piece of that urgent wanting is very hard, because the kind of abuse I suffered at the hands of my family of origin is a recipe for deeply embedded shame. When you are a little girl, and you are sexualized that young, and your mother doesn’t protect you from that, but rather, looks the other way because her bills are being paid and she can go to bingo, well, that tells you a lot about your value. When your father, upon being given custody of you in  your early teenage years, promptly begins drinking again, beating you nightly, and calling you every filthy name in the book only to wake up the next day with no apparent memory of any of it, well, that tells you a lot about who you are in the world.

These things you learn are lies, but they are the kind of lies that look enough like truth through a child’s eyes to stick.

I’ve unstuck most of it.

You’ve seen me out here in the world owning my worth. I don’t know if you know what a struggle its been, because I tend, here and elsewhere, to try not to get my stuff all over you, but there’s a part of me that *wants* you to sit with me while I turn myself inside out, so you can see, so you can know…

This woman who can look herself in the eyes and feel good about her integrity? She fought for that.

This woman who is orgasmic and really loves sex despite having been raped and sodomized when she was five, six, seven years old, objectified most of her life by the men in it, called a whore, a dirty little thing, treated like she was her mother’s competition instead of her mother’s daughter? She fought for that.

This woman who keeps showing up in the world with a heart of kindness despite the core of darkness they inserted into her little psyche? She fought for that.

Everything you see me doing out here in the world was something I had to foster in myself, by myself, for myself.

And I want you to know.

So, this is 49. It is clear-eyed. It’s held together by duct tape and a little glitter. It has a vein of gold running through it, because I fought for that.

And I’ll keep on fighting.

Because I’m worth it.





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