Friday, August 11, 2023

Once Broken


I was small-town raised, sheltered from the ways of the world. I had barely turned 18 when I left home to marry a batterer, not knowing in the beginning that he was such a man. He slowly and methodically stripped me of dignity and eventually separated me from our children After seven years of marriage, traumatized and two months pregnant with my third child I fled my abuser and sought sanctuary. 

And so it was that on one April evening in 1974, I stood naked in “front of God and everybody” and was baptized into a religious cult which I will refer to as the Family. I left my past behind, gave up my possessions, and turned my back on my flesh and blood.   In this vulnerable state, I dedicated myself to this group of people, their ideals, and the charismatic man that led them.  He spoke like he knew the answers to life and while he exuded the feeling that while in his presence I was loved and beautiful, his confidence was overwhelming and I felt diminished. I was never fully comfortable around him for any length of time.

In the peaceful setting of fragrant flower gardens, beautiful music, and people dressed in flowing robes and lovely dresses; one would think I had arrived in heaven but I was numb inside, looking out from inside a bubble, separate from everything around me.  My tears threaten to spill out but I did l not let them escape.  I hid behind a smile and artificial pleasantries while beneath the surface my emotions roiled. Ripped apart I shielded my heart to suppress the pain because I could not face it. Not yet. This group of people that I was among was so peaceful and welcoming and yet not one person had an inkling of who I really was. We in the family were encouraged to live in the present and not talk about the past, let alone bring up any unpleasantness that may have occurred in daily life. This would be construed as negativity. 

Over the years the idealism I had dedicated my life to had slowly eroded and a gulf had developed between the lifestyle of the regular members of the group and the leader himself.  The importance of his authority took priority over the well-being of the people. 

 Still, I stayed. Some years were relatively happy but when I think back the bad memories outweigh the good.  I stayed because I didn’t want to be alone and it was too daunting to be “out in the world”.  I had no skills and had not been in the job market for years. It was easier to stay on the land, “with the program”, and be directed and told how to think. Also, my years as a battered woman before the family had traumatized me to the point of dysfunction and co-dependency. I was unable to sustain healthy relationships.

The group had settled on a beautiful piece of land nestled in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains in Washington State. We had so much potential to develop a sustainable community. What was seen from the outside was a contrast from the day-to-day reality of life in the family. If you were a guest visiting for the first time you would see carefully manicured lawns and gardens with people working together, children and adults alike, and if the timing was right you would be hosted by the head of the family and treated to a fine meal and good wine.  He might take you on a special tour of his house; show you his leather couches, and flat-screen television on the first story before taking you upstairs where there is a grand piano and artwork on the walls.

What would not be part of the tour was a walk of the trail uphill into the forest. If you went on your own you would pass a couple of small wooden houses nestled in among the trees. Further along, you would pass an outhouse along the trail. At the top of the hill, you would see a yurt built on top of a wooden structure. How quaint, you might think as you got closer, as this dwelling looks so peaceful and simple but you would notice mold growing on the walls of the yurt and sagging rough wood steps that led from the porch to the upstairs sleeping and bathing quarters.  As you went in the door you would see the kitchen and living area, lit by kerosene lamps, for there is no electricity. There are no kitchen cupboards, just shelves with curtains thumb-tacked on to keep out the dust but not the mice. The furniture, what there is of it, is ramshackle, mismatched, and obviously old.  The wood stove seems to be heating well, although it, too, is showing signs of age. This was where I lived. The housing issue, for me, was frustrating in a deep way because I felt helpless to change it. The lack of possessions is not what bothered me, but the lack of power in my life.

Something needed to change. I was unhappy. My relationships were failing and my self-esteem was frail. I didn’t know who I was. I started to realize that I had subjected myself to a similar reality of my first marriage. There was no violence here but the pervading patriarchy was stifling.  There was no room in the family for personal development. Life was dedicated to the service of the whole; emotionally, spiritually, and financially.  I needed personal fulfillment. I needed to face and heal the demons of the past in my life before I came to the family. There was no hiding.

I took refuge in writing and in those stolen moments I began a life-changing journey by taking a correspondence course in composition from a university that opened a new world of self-discovery and new possibilities.  In the second year of my course, I chose the Sacred Feminine as my thesis.  Through the process of research realized I could no longer support a patriarchal system. I moved away and started a new life with much healing to be done. Shortly after the family went bankrupt, lost the land, and disbanded, except for a handful of people. The gratifying part is that in spite of the challenges and difficult choices and circumstances my children have undergone each one is a strong, loving, and caring person. I ask for no more than that.

I am in my 7th decade of life, and I hope that in time I will make peace with the feelings from the past that still rise to the surface unbidden. It is not that I dwell on the past; it is that the wounds are profound. Once I was broken there was no putting me back it back together in the same way. 

To be continued

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Going Backwards

 I generally try not to get into politics on social media. It seems counterproductive but there are times when I am compelled to share my point of view.

The idea that Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare could be eliminated if the Republicans take control is disturbing. As a woman of low means in my 70s this affects me and thousands of others. It is because of Medicaid that I can afford eye treatments for wet AMD. I will lose my vision in time if I don't get these treatments. This is just one example.  There are many of us with health issues as we age, many of us that are low income. I think there is a misconception of "lazy poor people". There may be those rotten apples that spoil things for everyone but I personally don't know anyone like that. I certainly didn't plan to be on SSI and have a food card, but here I am. This is how my life evolved. 

Oh, and the idea that the right to choose to use birth control or have an abortion could be stripped away does not seem like progress, not to mention making same-sex marriage illegal. We are going backward in my humble opinion. It feels like democracy is slipping away.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

What Next?

The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.

 William Ross Wallace

 The days of winter continue. The holidays are long over and daily life unfolds, one day much like another as the hours pass and the snow continues to fall. The beauty outside my window is peaceful and centering. The pine trees stand tall and quiet. I am quite content to stay indoors and admire the landscape. I am in good company with my books and my writing. 

Life before the pandemic is a past chapter, a slice of history that affected the world. The pandemic has further exposed a divided nation.  I was horrified last year as I watched the mob invade the capital. It was a fluke that I was watching television that morning. The feeling in my gut was like the one I had on 9/11 when the towers in New York were crumbling. Disbelief. Shock. Now voting laws are being manipulated in several states. The laws that restrict women's health choices are also being implemented. This is deeply troubling and I fear a slippery slope towards the demise of democracy as we know it. 

What are we creating for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren? Will my granddaughters have the same choices I did? That remains to be seen, and it's beginning to feel dystopian.

Friday, May 7, 2021


 “The association of loneliness with old age is a common one. The wise crone understands the power that can be attained in solitude. She knows that all-one-ness is the true meaning of being alone, and is actually what the word “alone” is made of. There is a point reached in solitude where we no longer feel isolated because we have found our connection with all beings in the universe. In fact, it can be lonelier among people who do not understand this principle, than off by oneself among the trees and stars. True contact with the self in the deepest sense brings contact with all existence. This can be a wonderous experience, bringing great creativity and insight. The crone teaches us to withdraw from the world to find peace and sustenance for our return journey into the struggles of living.”


Ariadne’s Thread 

by Shekhinah Mountainwater

Page 95

Tuesday, February 16, 2021


 "A gift comes to you through no action of your own, free, having moved toward you without your beckoning. It is not a reward; you cannot earn it. And yet it appears. Your only role is to be open-eyed and present."

from Braiding Sweetgrass by by Robin Wall Kimerer


Tuesday, August 18, 2020

The Crossroad

     Today is my 71st  birthday.  Many are the memories and I have a rich life, abundant in the blessing of my family and close friends.  These are the treasures of my heart that I embrace in these times of trouble in our country and on our planet, Mother Earth. I believe what we as a nation are experiencing right now is the fight for our constitution, our democracy, and the life of our Mother Earth.

    It is disturbing to think my grandchildren may grow up without a democratic system, that they may grow up under a fascist regime.  At this point, there are no guarantees of the outcome of the election. I am not a politician or a historian but to me, it is obvious that we are headed down a dangerous path and if things continue as they have been under the authoritarian dictates of the POTUS and his constant negativity, scapegoating and desecration of our constitution we will lose our democracy. 

    It is disturbing that so many, including people that I have known for many years, continue to support #45. It is disturbing that people bicker and are petty on social media instead of engaging in rational discussions. Such is human nature I suppose.

  This is an election like no other in our history. These are unprecidented times. I have read that we are in a battle for the soul of this country, and I believe it is true. I hope and pray that people search their hearts and do the right thing not only for ourselves but for our progeny. It's the least we can do.