By Karen C.L. Anderson
I am from books, Barbie dolls, and obscurity.
I am from rocks and driftwood, and exploring suburban woods as if I were there first; from raised ranches and colonials.
I am from cinnamon-toast-and-hot-cocoa-for-Sunday-supper-while-watching-The-Wonderful-World-Of-Disney and I am from resistance.
I am also from square dances and playing 20 Questions on long car trips, from The Great Turkey Hunt and Boys?! It looks like the Old Pup has been here!
In my blood I am from Coxe and Griffin, from Bornschein and Valentine. I am from divorce and remarriage a more than a few times, from steps and halves, and so I am from Lindsay and Elder and several others as well.
I am from humble and proud, from self-loathing and bravado. I am from conflict and confrontation and contradiction.
I am from repressed sexuality run amok. From toxic patriarchy, fear, and jealousy. I am from solitude and addiction and anxiety, from infidelity and shame. I am from hypocrisy and do as I say not as I do and from what you see on the outside is not what’s happening on the inside.
I am from life is hard and everything works out the way it is supposed to. I am from don’t rock the boat and do something constructive.
I am from white-Anglo-Saxon-protestant faded to nothing. From born again to atheism to sitting in the palm of god’s hand and resting in the womb of mother earth.
I am a Yankee Doodle Dandy from the gentle western hills of the fifth state, the Constitution State of Connecticut, and more distantly from England, Scotland, Germany, Wales, France.
I am from meatloaf, tuna noodle casserole, and Jell-O parfaits; from formal six-course gourmet extravaganzas, with pomp and circumstance and forks, knives and spoons in the proper order because Someday you might have dinner at the White House and you’ll need to know your manners!
I am from David Bowie and Let’s Dance and Put On Your Red Shoes And Dance The Blues. I am from Little Women and The Hotel New Hampshire; from love bomb beauty tornado and truth fire.
I am from writing, and self-expression, and late-blooming feminism. I am from too much chardonnay and from furtively binge eating Goldfish crackers to succulent blackberries on my tongue.
I am from vulnerability and acceptance, from shadow and light, from whole not perfect. I am from choosing no children to embracing mother energy; from bucking tradition and betraying my maternal lineage; from clear blue-eyed dark-haired curly-wild-maned beauty, and from giddy equanimity.
I am from the alpha mare and taking a stand even when I am shaking inside. I am from glorious selfishness and reveling in my neediness; from padded voluptuousness that gives and gives and receives and receives.
I am from sorry to not sorry to grateful. I am from surrender and soliloquy. And finally, I from fire and earth and that is where I shall return.
As someone who in the past has struggled with understanding (and accepting!) her lineage, I found this exercise to be quite healing and empowering. Understanding where (and who) you are from helps you to know your place in the world and can be a guide to where you want to go.
A poem by George Ella Lyon called “Where I’m From” lends itself to imitation and makes a wonderful exercise of exploration in belonging.
The prompts draw out sensory memories, some forgotten, some still in the forefront. They will help you say things about the sources of your unique you-ness that you’d never considered before. You will have also created something of yourself to share.
Here’s a template you can use, created by George Ella Lyon:
I am from _______ (specific ordinary item), from _______ (product name) and _______.
I am from the _______ (home description… adjective, adjective, sensory detail).
I am from the _______ (plant, flower, natural item), the _______ (plant, flower, natural detail)
I am from _______ (family tradition) and _______ (family trait), from _______ (name of family member) and _______ (another family name) and _______ (family name).
I am from the _______ (description of family tendency) and _______ (another one).
From _______ (something you were told as a child) and _______ (another).
I am from (representation of religion, or lack of it). Further description.
I’m from _______ (place of birth and family ancestry), _______ (two food items representing your family).
From the _______ (specific family story about a specific person and detail), the _______ (another detail, and the _______ (another detail about another family member).
I am from _______ (location of family pictures, mementos, archives and several more lines indicating their worth).
Karen C.L. Anderson is a storyteller who believes that the truth never creates suffering and that all stories can be told through the lens of truth. She is also a champion for any woman who has struggled in her relationship with her mother. As a writer, speaker, workshop presenter, and blogger, she consciously chooses to live her life as an experiment and to view the world through the lens of curiosity and fascination. She is the author of the upcoming book Difficult Mothers, Adult Daughters: A Guide For Separation, Liberation & Inspiration. Her previous book, The Peaceful Daughter’s Guide to Separating From A Difficult Mother, is an international best-seller, having sold well over 100,000 copies. In another life, Anderson spent 20 years trying to fit her right-brained self into a left-brained career as a trade magazine journalist in the field of plastics (and if she had a dime for every time someone mentioned that line from The Graduate…). She is married to a left-brained engineer and they live in Southeastern Connecticut.
Check out Karen’s website here!