The 28th marks both my golden birthday and my 10th escape-versary. I’ve felt the amount of introspection and existential questioning I feel like most people reserve for their 30th, but this year feels more significant somehow.
Ten years feels both like an eternity and also yesterday. I’ve spent a lot of time talking about where I came from and how I escaped. I haven’t really talked about what spurs me forward – all those things I told myself I’d never forget as a child.
The other day I was taking stock of where I am now, the choices I made to get here, and how they line up with the promises I made to myself when I was young and powerless:
When I was about 12, burnt out by losing myself to yet another pregnancy and overwhelmed by everything it meant to be the oldest daughter in a large family, I promised myself I wouldn’t forget what that felt like.
I promised myself that I would never inflict that feeling on other children and I’d stop it from happening if I could.
In 2013 I helped found the Coalition for Responsible Home Education to raise awareness about educational neglect and abuse in homeschooling environments and create protections for homeschooled students. We’re making progress.
When I was 17 I promised myself I would never birth kids, and that I would somehow become sterile before age 30. Last July, almost exactly a decade later I did that.
After I worked through the trauma of being told as a toddler, adolescent, and teenager that expressing anything but joy was wrong, I promised myself that I would stop hiding from my feelings and accept all of myself.
In 2013, I came out (publicly) as bi, nonbinary, and agnostic which was only the start of this journey. In 2016 I started seeing an actual therapist and started HRT. I’ve written and continue to write extensively (mostly on social media) about the battles in my brain because of this promise.
I don’t remember when, but I remember getting fed up with people I was surrounded by being resistant to personal change and growth. I promised myself I would always evolve and not become stagnant as I age.
I’ve torn my world down and rebuilt it from the ground up more times than I can count. I’ve gone from sheltered homeschooled girl who got married immediately after leaving home, to….a divorced, polyamorous, transmasc enby with…actual confidence. In 10 years.
When I was 17 and my parents pulled my college application out from under me, I promised myself I would at least try school someday.
In 2015 I stuck my toes in the water with Seattle’s ABE program, and in 2017 I enrolled full-time at Laney College. Now I’m just-shy-of-full-time in the Labor Studies program, creating institutional queer-supportive infrastructure, running for student senate, and working as a (paid) Student Organizer.
I don’t believe there’s a point at which I will be completely and fully healed from my childhood trauma. But 10 years of distance has brought a lot of growth in more ways than I thought possible. Life is really hard sometimes, but right now I’m appreciating exactly how far I’ve come.
I take it for granted that I have done a 180 in every way imaginable from the world I come from. I forget that’s not an experience many people have the impetus to go through. I see how far I have yet still to go, I see how much more I have to learn, and how many ways I could be better, and I know I’m not there yet.
ETA: if you want to celebrate this milestone with me, you can help me meet my $1k/mo goal on patreon http://patreon.com/kiery, send a present http://a.co/7w9xQgD, or buy me a drink https://cash.me/$kieryn!