Ashes to Freedom

One year ago, I unpacked the final box of secrets hidden deep in my mind. They were secrets, that weren’t necessarily repressed, they just were going to sit in storage, never to see the light of day. I had a choice to make; call the work of processing memories done, or tell my therapist and unpack the final details of my past.  I worked hard to get to where I was, and I felt I owed it to myself to go all the way. So I revealed the last puzzle piece. It had no real impact on my therapist because he had figured it out a long time ago, but for me, it put together the big picture. The who, why, and the extent to which people went to control those first 20 years of my life, topping it off with an additional 17 years of threats to stay silent. This last secret was by far one of the hardest things to reveal, and then begin to process what it all meant.

Once it began to metabolize a little bit, I noticed I began to think differently. I believe it made room for my mind to discern the bigger picture. It was frightening to realize the extent, the sinister intentionality of what went on with my life. The more I began to think about it logically, I understood the even bigger picture of my past. Even with the intense disbelief, belief, grief, fear, and deep sadness,  my mind was starting to knit together and solidify the truth. 

One day, I was telling my therapist a story of the time I bought a blue bottle, and the reason I bought it.  I thought it was still in my save-box. I had no recollection that I had given the bottle to my therapist for safe keeping. Throughout these eight years, I had given him many, many things that I had saved from my childhood. I thought they were my smoking guns, he always told me they were my breadcrumbs. The breadcrumbs that helped lead me back to a repressed past, that I knew someday I would be able to untangle. When I would bring my “breadcrumbs” to my therapist we never talked in detail about them at the time. I just needed them out of my house, and I was too triggered with recalling and processing memories for us to talk about where, and why I had these many objects. I just knew he would keep them safe for me. 

I forgot I gave him this bottle, which was great because I began to tell him the backstory of it.  How at 13 yrs old, I thought I was being so brave by buying it, bringing it home and waving it front of the face of a very dangerous person. Telling my therapist this part, lead me to tell him about the shirt I was wearing at the time. I knew I had saved that shirt and asked him if I had given that to him too. He told me he didn’t have it and I knew it was on the top shelf of my closet.  I knew I would look for it first thing the next morning. 

And, there it was…not the shirt, but a picture of me wearing that shirt the day before I moved to a new state. The day before I turned 17. Wearing a cute little peach shirt, earrings, long painted nails; all a veneer covering what lay right beneath the surface. The abused, neglected, abandoned, dehumanized object of many people who had already experienced a trail of unimaginable circumstances.  Along with that picture, were pictures of  my last four perpetrators. I had no memory of keeping these pictures, together, tucked in the back corner of my closet. I thought I would never see these faces again.

Looking at those pictures, feeling shocked, I felt a palpable fear coursing through my body and the look of uncomfortable fear (something I have never seen) on my husbands’ face. In the far distant part of my mind, I heard the inkling of a voice, my voice telling me, this is it. It’s done. I have completed my story; I have the people to prove it. I also, let myself feel proud of the smart girl who squirreled away those pictures. I felt proud of my other objects, my breadcrumbs, but this was the coup d’état. When I brought them to my therapist to dispose of I said to him, “I know, I know, more breadcrumbs.” But he said the words, I longed to hear. He said, “these, are your smoking guns.” It felt great to dispose of those pictures. All traces of them are gone. 

But still, I wasn’t quite ready to turn away from that Himalayan-esque mountain range my therapist helped me traverse the last eight years.  I had to stay and look at that range for as long as it took. I had to! I had to honor my truth. To honor the mountains, the terrible explosive volcanic mountains that are the truth of my life.  Then I was ready, and a year ago,  I turned away and began hiking away from the mountain range, towards the next path of health.

I’m slow, I’m tired, I’m just really spent! The feelings and emotions that are most prevalent right now are the fear of the people who planned it all and the memory of my perpetrators. Sometimes, I feel victimized, hurt, scared, unsteady, disturbed, very disturbed, but I also feel a profound sense of peace.

My therapist sent me a text, to save and read when I  needed some words of encouragement. It says,  “You are safe. You may not feel safe, and that is to be expected. Eventually, you will. Until that time, trust me that you are.”  I read that text a lot the past year as I ventured away from processing memories of the past and learned to cope with the effects of all the trauma and my PTSD. When I read it, it lands deeper and deeper. Eventually, I won’t have to read it any longer. 

Last week, I wrote a  goodbye letter to a group of people who were greatly responsible for putting me in harm’s way. I woke up, with the first snow, which had broken the cycle of the Fall triggers ready to say goodbye to them. I’m ready to let them go, so I can heal without them constantly in the forefront of my mind.

With leaden feeling legs, a weary mind, a sense of accomplishment and a heart full of hope, this afternoon I burnt the letter and let the ashes fly into the universe, a symbol of freedom from my perpetrators. A walk towards the warmth, an incredible freeing release from my past. The breadcrumbs are swept away, the “smoking guns” revealed and let go of, the ashes have dispersed in the wind and today the sun is shining on my face!





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Thank you for reading my memoir, Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph


43 thoughts on “Ashes to Freedom

  1. Alexis Rose January 19, 2017 / 4:50 pm

    Thank You very, very much! I appreciate your support. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. thecolourcreators January 19, 2017 / 4:46 pm

    What a beautiful post and it must’ve taken so much strength for you to share with the world! So inspiring!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Anna Waldherr December 16, 2016 / 4:58 am

    Thank you for your follow. I wish you much success w/ your book. More than that, I wish you happiness. It is astounding what dark places children must see. When we write about the journey, we speak for those who have no words…and all those lost along the way. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  4. spaceforagarden December 7, 2016 / 1:31 am

    It is so incredibly sad that people have the power to keep others hostage by their words and deeds. “Long Walk to Freedom” is certainly an inspiration. You go girl!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Alexis Rose December 7, 2016 / 12:59 am

    Thank You for the reblog, Jason. I really appreciate it! 🙂 Alexis

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Opinionated Man December 7, 2016 / 12:43 am

    Reblogged this on HarsH ReaLiTy and commented:
    I think the title really says it all and definitely sets you up for this great post! -OM
    Note: Comments disabled here. Please visit their blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Alexis Rose December 5, 2016 / 12:18 am

    Thank You so much for your kind words. I really needed them right niw. ❤️


  8. jazzyjenness December 4, 2016 / 10:09 pm

    You are brave, strong, and courageous! Thank you for sharing this post, your life and encouragement with us.
    God bless you!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Wendy November 24, 2016 / 12:06 am

    It’s funny how often that seems to happen – we read or hear something that just ‘fits the moment’.. I’m very pleased my words did for you tonight! Thanks Alexis and you have a lovely evening too xx

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Alexis Rose November 23, 2016 / 11:35 pm

    Thank You Wendy. Your words are coming this evening at exactly the right time. Im going to take them to heart this evening. Have a good evening. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Wendy November 23, 2016 / 11:34 pm

    I see it in you – the phoenix being your spirit and rising to bring hope for yourself and inspiration for others! What an amazing journey you are now on… x

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Wendy November 23, 2016 / 8:57 pm

    Angel Blessings my friend and I’m so glad you have come to a place of ‘hope’… I see you rising like a phoenix from those flames! x

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Soul Gifts November 22, 2016 / 10:17 am

    That is a major step forward Alexis. Congratulations and every blessing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Alexis Rose November 22, 2016 / 7:40 am

    Oh thank you! Im soaking up that wonderful support. And you, my friend deserve the exact same love. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  15. emergingfromthedarknight November 22, 2016 / 7:23 am

    This is so deeply moving. You are amazing, the courage, the strength, the resilience it must have taken to come this far is enormous. You deserve now to live in love and never, never again to be put in harm’s way.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Alexis Rose November 22, 2016 / 3:21 am

    Thank You so much for your wonderful support. I feel peaceful this evening. I think there is a level of catharsis when I write from a place of truth. Have a good night. 🙂 Alexis

    Liked by 1 person

  17. flashlight batteries November 22, 2016 / 3:17 am

    I am cheering for you. It takes great courage and strength to unpack your past, process it and step forward. You shared this beautifully. I am sorry for your pain and hope you continue to find peace on this next step of your journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Alexis Rose November 22, 2016 / 2:45 am

    Thank You so much!! Im on my way to visit your blog now.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. poweredbymangos November 22, 2016 / 2:26 am

    You are such an inspiration. Thank you for sharing your story. I’m so glad I found your blog on the Dream Big, Dream Often blog post where you were featured. I was featured there last week. If you’re interested please take a look at my site:

    Liked by 1 person

  20. albatrosswingxoxo November 22, 2016 / 12:50 am

    *hugs* My sister is the best. I love her to pieces. She is my support team. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  21. piratepatty November 21, 2016 / 9:51 pm

    Knowing we aren’t alone has made all the difference to me. I am so grateful for this community that puts us in touch with other survivors.😌

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Alexis Rose November 21, 2016 / 9:46 pm

    That’s awesome. I’m so glad you have your sister. It makes a huge difference when we have support in our lives. Lots of hugs this evening. 🙂


  23. Alexis Rose November 21, 2016 / 9:45 pm

    Thank You! I’m at a loss for words. This particular post was one of the hardest I have written. After reading the letter out loud and burning it, and then rubbing the ashes into the soil is still an experience I can’t put into words. But I think ultimately, for me, this act was a way to let them go. Although I’m not going to lie, I am a bit nervous as the sun sets and I think about it tonight. PiratePatty, you are a huge inspiration. I’m so grateful for the wordpress blogging community. Together lots of healing takes place. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  24. albatrosswingxoxo November 21, 2016 / 6:54 pm

    Alexis, water under the bridge hon. I have PSTD as well… when I can’t take it anymore I open up to my sister. :-/

    Liked by 1 person

  25. piratepatty November 21, 2016 / 6:12 pm

    I’m at a loss for words. Your bravery is inspiring. You are a hero to a lot of people!

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Alexis Rose November 21, 2016 / 5:54 pm

    Its that catch 22 of knowing/dont want to know. Oh, crap now I know so I have to deal with it. Oy! 🙂 I love you my friend!

    Liked by 2 people

  27. summerstartstoshine November 21, 2016 / 5:52 pm

    Yes. I love the breadcrumb concept and the text from your therapist. I have had to piece together horrifying memories myself, and when you’re confronted with the full picture, nothing can psychologically prepare you for that. I remember it well. It’s a relief to find someone who understands. You’re a special lady and I’m proud to call you my friend 💛💪🙋🙆💖

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Alexis Rose November 21, 2016 / 5:48 pm

    Summer, cant even begin to tell you how much this means to me. You and Me, sister…we’re both doing it. Together across the continents.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Alexis Rose November 21, 2016 / 5:45 pm

    Thank You Jackie! ❤️


  30. summerstartstoshine November 21, 2016 / 5:43 pm

    This post is probably one of my favourites ever. I love it, and your bravery and strength and beauty inspires me 😘😘😘

    Liked by 2 people

  31. Jacqueline Zeigler November 21, 2016 / 5:36 pm

    Beautiful, as always. So happy for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. PatchworkKat November 21, 2016 / 5:23 pm

    I love this. Absolutely love this. Wishing you all the best on the new leg of your journey!

    Liked by 1 person

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