Returning Home, Validating Myself

Returning Home Validating Myself

I'm getting ready to visit my birthplace: Anchorage, Alaska. I'm excited! And terrified.

You see, I moved to California when I was just a year old. I don't remember living in Anchorage. But, my short time there had a monumental impact on my life. I'm so grateful to my mom for telling me the story of where I came from and the truth of what happened in my family of origin. It's not pretty - in fact, it's violent - but, facing the truth of it has enabled me to heal and offer myself (and others) deeper levels of compassion and understanding.

The truth is...my mom fled Anchorage with my two older sisters and me. She drove us from Anchorage, Alaska to Salinas, California - more than 3,000 miles by herself - and we were only 1, 3 and 5 years old. I get anxious when I imagine driving across town with 3 young children, much less across two countries! But, my mother took this enormous trip with us because she feared for our safety.

The abuse in our home had recently escalated and my mom realized that we were all in danger. She used to think that it was just her and she could protect us. But, one night, in a heated argument, my father threw the crib I was in across the room. My mom saw the danger and immediately knew she had to get out.

We made it to California. My father followed and my parents remained married until I was 3 years old. The abuse stopped, but when my mother felt it brewing she gave my father an ultimatum: marriage counseling or divorce. He chose to leave.

Growing up without a father has been such a big part of my identity and how I see myself. I used to think that I was less than - unwanted and abandoned. I didn't have what I thought everyone was supposed to have - a father - and it greatly affected my sense of personal value and worth. This touched every aspect of my life, especially romantic relationships. 

I've done a tremendous amount of personal and spiritual work to heal this trauma and realize my worth and value. I've even re-connected with my father - someone I've only met a few times in my life that I can remember. We are still very distant, but at least now there is connection albeit a small one.

Connecting with family is very important to me. In fact, it's why I'm going to Anchorage now. I'm meeting up with my sister and her family for the holidays. My mom and dad are also going. My dad is technically my stepdad, but we are very close and he has been in my life as a dad since I was 16 years old. I've reached out to my bio father via email to let him know I'd also like to see him while I'm there. He doesn't live in Anchorage. He lives more than 700 miles away, but it's common for people to make seasonal trips to Anchorage for things like shopping and healthcare.

I haven't heard back from my father - I'm not sure if I have the right email address - but, I feel good about honoring myself by asking for what I want. It's really hard to ask for something from someone who's given so little. But, I've decided that even if he says no or if he never responds to my email that it doesn't diminish who I am. I've decided that my willingness to ask is what validates my worth and value. I am worthy of love and connection - even if he can't give it. I value myself and that is enough. I am enough.

And so I choose to return to Alaska. I choose to reconnect with my culture, my hometown. I choose to open up to all that it is and all that it isn't. This trip isn't just about shopping and site seeing or even connecting with my family. It's about connecting with myself and returning to where this life - my life - began. I choose to embark on this adventure with my heart wide open and all parts of myself safely cared for.

I'm excited. I'm terrified. But, mostly, I'm all in. I'm willing to see this through no matter what because:

I matter.

{Want to take this trip with me? I'd love the support! I will be posting pictures on Instagram and sharing my experience along the way. Let's connect: Instagram.com/Cassandra.Rae.Pdx. I also post pictures of the food I eat, the people I connect with, and the dogs I kiss!}