I’m not the little matchstick girl anymore


Christmas is hard when you don’t feel loved by the people who should love and accept you. Many of us ex-cult and isolated homeschool escapees feel this.

We were taught to be focused on our family and only our family and when we figure out our family is broken, sometimes really broken, well. Some of us don’t have anyone to spend Christmas with.

Two years ago, I wrote this in a notepad during a shift at the call center where I worked:


I’m on a quest again. It’s the one I dreamed of last year. Maybe it’s a quest to find Christmas. I just want to go home, to where I began, to my own church, to my pastor.

I want to have Christmas with them. Even if I have to sleep in my car to do it. But I’ll be at [a friend’s] the first night at least. I feel like some kind of hobo again. But maybe that’s the point. Going out on a quest, it’s not meant to be an easy, simple journey.

Why does my whole life feel like going through a dark tunnel right now? I know the light will come, it has before. But it’s like riding a train through the dark. Just like all night drives on roadtrips through New Mexico.

And you know what? I drove to Texas for Christmas.

Now I live in Texas. And I am learning how to live in a community. How to know other humans. How to be vulnerable with the right people.

My church is very, very different from other churches and I want to write more about my healing and why I was able to come back to any church at all, but this Christmas was good.

This awesome hippie family from my church with two neurodivergent kids adopted me for Thanksgiving and for Christmas. They’re about my age and nerdy and awesome. We drank wine like heathens and ate all the foods and suddenly I realized I wasn’t alone anymore.

The realization of what a chosen family does for you when your blood family can’t or won’t resonated with me again.

Healing is a process.

It’s this slowly, daily thing that creeps along until one day you look back and go, holy crap, I’m way different than I was a year ago. Hell, I’m not the same person that I was six weeks ago.

I’m healing in therapy when I finally find words for things I’ve never said out loud before.  I’m healing when I watch my friends explain and teach their children instead of screaming at them and shutting them down. I’m healing when I watch Netflix shows in the evenings when I get home from work and go, oh, oh, oh, that’s me.

Two years ago, I felt like the little matchstick girl in the story, you know, the one who freezes to death after Christmas. My family had made excuses not to spend Christmas with me for years and I decided that I’d have to make my own. But I felt like I’d been locked out in the cold.

I can’t forget where I came from. Or how I used to feel. And I don’t want to.

But I don’t feel orphaned anymore. I’m home.

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