I was two or three-years-old when I recall my life starting.

Living with my mom and my real dad, my sisters, and my brother whose name I hardly remember, we were all living in a small house in California, the armpit of California. I remember coming into the house from playing or waking up in the middle of the night to my parents screaming, always. I remember looking out my door and saw my dad throw a portable heater at my mom. I’ve seen him beat her multiple times, he once smashed her head into a cabinet and broke the door. My brother and sisters would pull me out of the room because I just stood there watching.

The turning point was when he was stupid drunk and pulled a gun. My mom was just sitting in the living room and didn’t know how to process it. I was standing in the hallway watching. That same day she ran out with my siblings and I remember my dad holding my arm in the doorway, begging me to stay. I turned to my mom and started running after her. I kept running, never looked back. I think I was four.

That was rough.

I definitely credit that situation to many amazing things in my life now, however, like almost being done with college. If that moment had been any different I would be a very different person.

My mom was a single for five years. Then she met a man. My life is a story about how my mom transforms and how we are watching her in these situations and she’s learning to navigate life. She got married to him and everything was great. He was wonderful. His family was creepy, but we got used to them and their reiki.

I was eight when they married.

Right after she got married to him, he would come home really late or would go into the garage and drink all the time. He never abused her, but he had a lot of demons of his own that he was fighting. When he was drunk he would get suicidal. My mom had to talk him down all the time.

I remember one night, almost like with my other dad, we left the house and he was begging us to stay, but he knew he couldn’t be the man she needed him to be. He said that too her.

“I have too many demons and they are too strong.”

I didn’t know what it meant, but it was terrifying.

That ended.

His mom had a hard time letting him go, she didn’t want him to be with my mom. She thought my mom was going to take him away. She would say things to him that altered him. There was so much powerful, bad energy. I could feel it.

A year later, he called my mom and said goodbye and committed suicide and left his four-year-old daughter. That was impossibly hard, we still are triggered. From an aroma to anything else. He was so kindhearted and loving, but he had so much going on inside his head that he couldn’t fight. He was filled with energy he couldn’t release himself from.

She then got remarried when I was in sixth grade. They met each other on a field trip. Dated for four months and got married. It’s been a rough ride. They’ve said some things, done some things – we’ve both moved out twice, but they are good now, it’s their eleventh year. I’ve moved about twenty times between leaving my dad and sixth grade. My kids will never move around.

That’s one of the reason I have such a strong faith and why I carry the cross on my back all the time.

Then it continues from there.

One of the biggest traumas of my life was Levi. I was struggling with not having a father figure who was a mentor who would guide and help me. Levi took over that weakness and played on it. I did things for him that I would never do. I was a completely different person. I was not honed in to my spirituality.

He’s a good guy now, now that I’m not with him. He’s in a happy place. I then realized my own potential and I realized the power he had over me. He manipulated situations, he controlled my every move.

I have control over my life to the extent I do, and no one will control me like that anymore.

I remember stealing my parents car to see him because he got so mad at me for not seeing him. So I got kicked out of my house and started living with my real dad. I ended up having sex with a guy I didn’t know, I made bad decisions, and then finally went back home to my mom and stepdad.

All these things mush together now because, while I am not as stable as I want to be, I’m stronger than I have ever been. Now I can look at my emotions and understand how much power they have over my life. But I need to have power also.

As I get older, I’m coming into a season of my life where I can take myself away from all that past crap and these situations and make a life for myself and make myself happy. I do yoga, I’m basically a hippy-wannabe. Hiking had a lot to do with that. I don’t really remember my first hike, but every time I go back onto the trail, I feel like one person with so many different things. I feel like when you go out and let your existence be one with the expanse of all the trees and dirt, it changes you. I breathe easier, I let it all go. And I go and hike till I can’t stop.

In 2005 my grandma passed away from cancer. She developed it when I was five or six, but my mindset feels like I was twelve or thirteen. When she started passing it was hard for our family. My mom knew that my grandma wanted to go, but my aunt wouldn’t let her.

When she was finally done fighting, I walked into her room and saw how sad her eyes were; she could barely understand what was happening. My grandma then looked at me and said, “I just saw him.” I was panicking, trying to figure out who, when she started getting shallow breath and that was when they inverted her. My mom was dumbfounded, as was I. It was insane.

The whole time they were doing chemotherapy, trying to beat her cancer. I kept asking why they were putting her through so much when she just needed to go. This world is not forever, our shells are temporary. Our souls open up to so much more. I don’t know how to explain it, but I believe in more after life. I just know there is so much more.

My sister is good, she lives with my mom, my stepdad, and I. My other sister and my brother, those that stayed with my real dad, they’ve both had two kids. My brother is in jail for fourteen years, may have mild schizophrenia, and does drugs. My sister has two beautiful kids, but could have accomplished so much more if she put her mind to it. I thank God and my mother every day for taking me away from that situation. I would probably have kids myself, no college, I wouldn’t have done a lot of things that I wanted to do.

I am so blessed and thankful that I ended up here.

My dad is okay now, but he struggles more than he needs to.

I think that’s all I can handle talking about for now.

I’m thankful for yoga mat cleaner, little bristles on pine trees that you can smell, bare feet, for my little green journal, my mama, my education, my personality because it has helped me in life, for the big girl potty, music because it is such a big part of my life, for my guitar named Pocahontas, long hikes, stickers, and I’m very thankful for long rides in the car, music blasting, just going with all my windows down and hand-surfing.

It’s those small moments where you look at life, then look up at think how the hell did I make it through all of that.

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