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Howdy, friend. Mind if I hang my hat here for a minute?

My name is Leigh Larson, nice to meet you.

The one-year anniversary of my independent woman return to Montana is around the corner and it's triggered my insomnia. And sense of existential dread. And sense of pride.

I stand here, looking back on an incredibly difficult year (which also followed a difficult year, which also followed a difficult year, which also followed a difficult year, and I will digress before it's clear that every year since 2016 has just been a difficult year), proud of how far I have come, everything I did to save myself, how this time last year I knew 2 people in my sweet little town in Montana.

I look at my social calendar, my work calendar, my volunteer calendar and see that I have far more purpose and community now than I did back then. I want to feel proud. I want to share with you that I'm on a mountaintop.

I did it, Ma!

I did the whole woman-gets-divorced-and-starts-a-business-and-travels-and-gets-a-dog-and-starts-a-blog-and-gets-in-high-school-shape rite of passage!! I got divorced before 30, and in the city, that's chic!

How I coped was cannon. It was Eat Pray Love for the 29-year old millennial in 2023.

It was White Woman Manifesto in the form of bffs at The Eras Tour and floor tickets to Beck and Texas beach trips with childhood girlies and road-trippin' the PNW in my Volvo with my yellow lab, Huck, makin' cute li'l reelz and visitin' friends and workin' my remote tech job and smokin' my cute little CBD hash pens and reading 30 books on women's history in America, on the Frontier, and in Christianity. It was rewatching Princess Bride and eating Golden Grahams from the box and therapy and women's groups and mushroom chocolate bars. It was daily walks on the river and YouTube home workouts and attending free events around town and inviting women over for tea.

Here's my social media post highlighting my triumph over divorce, go validate it with likes!!!!!

I am a modern-day woman on her spiritual healing journey, got-dammit.

I survived an abusive marriage, alone, in a new place almost 2200 miles from my home state of Texas. We were together for 5 years, but the real nastiness didn't rear its head until the last 12-18 months leading up to filing. We bought a home in March of 2022, and left Colorado/Disneyworld for Montana/The Last Best Place.

I'm thankful I bought and remodeled a house to save the marriage instead of having kids.

When the renovation dust settled, the fighting took off exponentially, dangerously, and I left Montana and went home to Texas/Oklahoma from December 2022 to March 2023.

From afar, I could be around loved ones, be safely away from him, and wait out whether or not he wanted the house and where I would land. He chose Colorado, and I chose to not forego the opportunity to be a woman who owned real estate (thank you, Mck). I bought him out, and moved back the first week of March.

I also bought my own car for the first time. I wanted a Subaru SUV, but my dream car came into the dealership that day and we made a deal that was under my budget. It felt spiritual.

My first Monday morning, I woke up to the sunrise and felt the quiet reality of my new aloneness set in. I made some green tea, cried, and resolved to make this day the best I could under the circumstances. That resolve lasted 5 minutes, when I received word that a man I would consider a father-figure, mentor, and soul-friend was in his final hours, a shocking revelation given he was in his 40s. Freak cancer, quiet and rapid, and then he developed a rare blood infection in the hospital. I had a 12-hour heads up between learning he was sick, and when he died. And this, not 6 months after my beloved 66-year-old uncle left us by a widow maker heart attack.

In one year, I moved to a new state, stopped contact with my father, buried two great men, divorced my husband, and lost my tech job. Oh! And then this coward in my new town disrespected me and then also lost my most favorite and sentimental book. That's a different story, and I'm catastrophizing at this point for dramatic effect, but fuck man why did men fail me so painfully this year?

Leigh, someone dying is not 'failing' you.

Well, you know what? It sure as hell feels like it.

It feels like my dad and husband failed me, and when I finally got the courage to stop those two sources of pain, God turned around and also took the two good men that I loved. Like my decision to end two negative relationships had to be balanced on some cosmic scale. I didn't plan to grieve 4 relationships in one year.

You see, I needed Uncle and Pastor to be alive for a very long time, and they failed me and and and it's ridiculous you don't have to tell me, I know they didn't



but they did.



My grief is all over the place because how can I grieve so many different pains. I'm in different places with all of it. I'm processing none of it and all of it.

And none of this even mentions The Bearded Man, the Seminary, the Lawsuit, the Septic, or goes into detail about any of the things I mentioned. Which I want to! I want to talk about things in my life. I want to know my words matter. This is a lot in one post and I'm sure each sentence could be followed up with a question, which I may or may not answer in time. We'll see. I'm just excited to start this relationship with you, whoever you are.

Anyway, it's been roughly one year since returning to Montana to make it my own, and I'm proud of what I accomplished. I'm also still deeply in pain, and I know writing and connecting with others will provide some remedy.

Go big or go home, but if you do go home, you damn well better have a story to tell.

Here's to tellin' mine.


1 Comment

What a witness to resolve, determination and authenticity your story is, Leigh, as well as God's eternal grace and protection. I'm so grateful to know this woman and have no doubt she is making the world a better place in all that she does.

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