The Rockies have always had my heart...as a daddy's girl, it's the first "big thing" Dad and I shared. This year marks the second year without him, but the memories will last a life time. They are what I cling too now.
You see...I've spent 20 years running from my past...why you ask?!? That's a great question. I always wanted to show people (friends and mostly family) what I thought they would "like" or "approve"...but I never had anything in that category to offer, so I just hid all of it. I acted as if my childhood never happened. That my hurt wasn't real, and that everyone else deserved to go first, before me. I still do that, I love others so much that it hurts sometimes. I really wanted to protect the ones I love, the ones who never talked about the truth of what happened. Who never wanted to protect me. I've lived quite the lie actually.
My life isn't a pretty painting...truth is, I'm a mess, but it's my beautiful mess. I've moved more times than I can count, my Dad became an addict after being shot by my uncle and watching him struggle through life broke me, he maintained his free spirit and wasn't around much in my later years, my parents divorced when I was 11, and again at 22, I've been through several abusive relationships and a divorce myself, my family sweeps everything under the rug, and in my heart I've always felt inadequate, unlovable, and not good enough. My ONLY saving grace is the unconditional love of Jesus. Throughout the years I've stumbled, fallen, and failed BIG but I was never alone. I always had the forgiveness and true love of my God. He's the only one who knows the whole story...and loves me anyway.
I don't mean to get so deep here, but it's time. It's time I face the music. I'm not telling the whole story because it's not worth it. I'm simply sharing that we all struggle. Daily. Social media is a highlight reel y'all. Don't get caught up in that trap. It's taken 31 years, but I'm not hiding anymore. Hiding now means I lose my Dad for good, and I just won't do that. I'm proud of my messy past...every single bit of it.
Visiting CO always recharges my batteries and this time, I head back to Beantown better. I hold my head high. FoCo validates that everything wasn't always bad...that life has a funny way of working itself out. I have a chance to cover it all up and I choose to be brave instead. To let my light shine through the disaster.
My soul lives in the Mountains...it's where it all began. I find it to be no accident that the love of my life takes me back there several times a year.
Fort Collins, this is where all my dreams come from. Mine and my Dads. This is the house that built me and tore me to pieces. It's when I learned to be independent, to love hard, and to never let anyone disrespect me or my family. Those lessons came in unconventional ways at times, but I carry them with me always. My Dad lost his legs during the years we lived here. Yep. He never walked again. My uncle (mom's brother) shot him during a quick visit to TN and my life was never the same. In fact I was robbed of my childhood...for those of you who know the story, I was never ok...we never recovered. BUT I'm thankful again to God who has a much bigger plan. However, no one ever talks about it, but it happened. We lost him after that, not on earth, but he was gone. He was never the same, actually none of us were. We all tried to move on, but there's a part of us that still lives in that house. It actually took 26 years after the shooting before his body left the Earth, but the journey that we took felt like a billion years. I miss him everyday and I will always regret not giving him more grace. I commit to living out his dreams of travel and loving others. I have his heart, his charm, and his smile. I will never take that for granted or act as if I'm anything but my fathers daughter.
I am no longer a victim. I refuse to go down like that. In fact, I'm moving forward as an advocate to children who are where I've been. I want to help open the hearts and minds of kids that need to know how special they are. I'm a believer that we are given tools in life, sometimes those tools are old and tattered and anything but new, but we are meant to use them. So go do that. Ok.
My point of writing this is to remember the good times but reflect on the truth. Visiting that house reminded me of catching crayfish at the reservoir, learning to ride a bike, snow angels and shoveling the drive, protecting my brother, first friends, skates in the basement, Elway, Estes Park, and beyond. My childhood was taken early. At 5yo my life was turned upside down, fair...nope, but absolute truth. I became a survivor. Every move I make was shaped back then. My heart had a choice and I chose love.
Listen, I know people are sorry and wish things would be different, but I don't. I wouldn't be me without all of it. I forgive. Even the broken pieces. The ones I hid really deep. I am who I am because of each moment. Y'all, I love hard, in spite of our struggles, my heart is a gift from God and I do my best to just share it...I smile often, hug big, and live each day as if it's my last. I know what grief looks like on a personal level...I believe it's why I was so good at Nursing. It's because I listen and I feel with others. I hurt with them and believe in them. It's a very vulnerable thing to do, but it's who I am. I'm proud to be me. There's only one me.
My incredible husband encourages me to embrace who I am, it's what he loves about me. If it weren't for every moment in my past, I may never have met him...and that would be pure tragedy. So, believe in the journey, it's made special just for you.
I had many choices in this journey...I could have went dark many times, but I didn't. Sure I mess up, but I cling tight to the promises of Jesus and I move forward. My purpose is clear. I love others, like really love them. Enough to stop and hug a stranger, feed the hungry, listen to a homeless person tell me their hopes and dreams, give abundantly when I don't have it; to fly across the world to love on orphan babies, and to be an advocate for peace. That's me. And although I struggle...I trust in the journey. It's mine.
You have an important gift. So...Don't be selfish. We've all been through hell, so my challenge for you is to improve your surroundings. Your family. Your world. We can't change the world with one, but together we can change the perspective which will lead to the change we are yearning for. Be kind, love more, and know that I'm your biggest fan. Seriously.
**To my baby brother...you are the light that's shined brightly in the darkest times, you are my blood, and my heart. My first friend and my Mookie. Thank you for always sticking by me, even when I wasn't so lovable. I am so very proud to be your big sister. We share an unbreakable bond. I'm forever grateful for that.