Where I Am From: A Tough Girl Memoir (Part 2)

I don’t remember a time when I felt free to be who I really am. Does anyone? I was three years old, fearless and egoless, when I realized that my mother didn’t love me. I must have known before then. I must have had some idea that I was on my own.

I remember being caught in the act of defiance around that age. The scene, captured in a photograph, shows me smiling with one hand on my doll carriage, the other behind my back, as if bracing myself for the terror I surely faced. (Snap!) My brother’s chubby body plopped inside my doll carriage. (Snap!) My mother lifted my pink nightgown, slapping me on the bare ass with her palm. (Snap!) I flinched when my mother took that picture because I shuddered every time she walked inside the house, and because I had been warned never to put my baby brother inside my doll carriage again. But I wanted to take care of him, love him like I knew he needed.

I wanted to push him away, somewhere away from my mother’s punitive palm and the riveting screams, swelling and bursting, like fiery lava spewing from a volcano, clutching my heart until I was thirteen and learned how to move through the panic, embrace my secret Tough Girl persona conceived from the coalescence of fear and sheer tenacity, instinctual behavior provoked by the realization that I was on my own, had always been on my own, would always be the only one looking out for me.

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Where I Am From: A Tough Girl Memoir (Part 1)


There was a time when           the earth opened wide

asked the sun

“How do you want to burn,

bright one?”

Like a furious yearn

from the inside.


My life story is as ordinary as any. I am from creative thought. I was born there, like everyone else, and I continue to create and experience versions of the same poetic love and fear that conceived of me, that conceived of you. I fully embrace the concept that we are all one; each of us are brilliant lights who separate from the whole in order to create experiences, which demonstrate who we are and who we are not. I believe that we are always in the process of creating, cultivating situations and stories, knowing both exquisite triumph and extraordinary defeat, exploring different versions of ourselves toward discovery of our highest, most natural forms. I trust Neale Donald Walsch’s stellar statement within his book, Conversations with God: An Uncommon Dialogue: “the deepest secret is that life is not a process of discovery, but a process of creation” (Walsch, 20).

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