Episode #64: Being Born Into Trauma, Surviving Abusive Adoptive Parents & The Need To Connect With Biological Parents With Cheyenne Mihko Kihêw

INTRODUCTION:

 

Cheyenne Mihko Kihêw (they/them) is a Two-Spirit Indigi-queer, born and raised in amiskwacîwâskahikan (Edmonton). Inspired by their own lived experiences with meth addiction and street involvement in their teen years, Cheyenne has dedicated their life to community-based work. They were the first in their family to attend university, holding a BA in Sociology from MacEwan. Currently, they are the Community Liaison for Edmonton 2 Spirit Society, a role that affords them the privilege of incorporating many of their passions into their work and is supporting their own journey of cultural reclamation. Cheyenne is the current Two Spirit Warrior regional titleholder 2021/2022, alongside Rob Gurney. They are also the current Chair of the Board of Directors for Boyle Street Education Centre, their former high school to which they accredit much of their achievements. Cheyenne is unapologetic in their identity as a nêhiyaw, fat, and queer femme and lives loud and proud.

 

***PHOTO CREDIT***

 

All My Relations Photography: 

 

https://www.facebook.com/allmyrelationsphoto

 

 

INCLUDED IN THIS EPISODE (But not limited to):

  

·      Cheyenne’s Story

·      Being Born Into Trauma

·      Using Crystal Meth As A Teenager

·      Are Your Drugs For Pleasure Or Pain?

·      Surviving Abusive Adoptive Parents

·      The Benefits Of Forgiveness 

·      The Benefits Of Chosen Family

·      The Toils Of Being A Homeless Youth

·      The Triflingness Of The Department Of Veteran’s Affairs

·      Freedom In Becoming An Emancipated Teen 

 

 

CONNECT WITH CHEYENNE:

 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tugs.cuchina/

 

 

CONNECT WITH DE’VANNON:

 

Website: https://www.SexDrugsAndJesus.com

Website: https://www.DownUnderApparel.com

YouTube: https://bit.ly/3daTqCM

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SexDrugsAndJesus/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sexdrugsandjesuspodcast/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TabooTopix

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/devannon

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.es/SexDrugsAndJesus/_saved/

Email: DeVannon@SexDrugsAndJesus.com

 

 

DE’VANNON’S RECOMMENDATIONS:

 

·      Pray Away Documentary (NETFLIX)

https://www.netflix.com/title/81040370

TRAILER: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tk_CqGVfxEs

 

·      OverviewBible (Jeffrey Kranz)

https://overviewbible.com

https://www.youtube.com/c/OverviewBible

 

·      Hillsong: A Megachurch Exposed (Documentary)

https://press.discoveryplus.com/lifestyle/discovery-announces-key-participants-featured-in-upcoming-expose-of-the-hillsong-church-controversy-hillsong-a-megachurch-exposed/

 

·      Leaving Hillsong Podcast With Tanya Levin

https://leavinghillsong.podbean.com

 

 

·      Upwork: https://www.upwork.com

·      FreeUp: https://freeup.net

 

VETERAN’S SERVICE ORGANIZATIONS

 

·      Disabled American Veterans (DAV): https://www.dav.org

·      American Legion: https://www.legion.org

 

·      What The World Needs Now (Dionne Warwick): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FfHAs9cdTqg

 

 

INTERESTED IN PODCASTING OR BEING A GUEST?:

 

·      PodMatch is awesome! This application streamlines the process of finding guests for your show and also helps you find shows to be a guest on. The PodMatch Community is a part of this and that is where you can ask questions and get help from an entire network of people so that you save both money and time on your podcasting journey.

https://podmatch.com/signup/devannon

 

 

TRANSCRIPT:

 

[00:00:00]

You’re listening to the sex drugs and Jesus podcast, where we discuss whatever the fuck we want to! And yes, we can put sex and drugs and Jesus all in the same bed and still be all right at the end of the day. My name is De’Vannon and I’ll be interviewing guests from every corner of this world as we dig into topics that are too risqué for the morning show, as we strive to help you understand what’s really going on in your life.

There is nothing off the table and we’ve got a lot to talk about. So let’s dive right into this episode.

De’Vannon: Hello? Hello. Hello. Are you beautiful souls out there? I love you so much. Thanks for joining me another week. For another episode, I’m super excited to have back with me again, the wonderful Cheyenne Miho. And today we’re gonna be talking about their personal life story. Their history entails a lot of early life trauma and extreme abuse. They’ve been through everything from early life, meth addiction to abuse of adoptive parents who would do things like with whole food and lock them in their bedroom. [00:01:00] Cheyenne’s situation was so terrible that the legal system allowed them. To emancipate themselves at the age of 16. Look, y’all healing can be a super long journey and Shahan is definitely on their way.

Please listen to their share. Hello? Hello. Hello. All my lovely little fuckers out there and welcome back to the sex drugs in Jesus podcast. To see how I did that. I said, fuck in Jesus in the same sentence. And I know he is most pleased with me standing up on his throne at the right hand of God, applauding me as I give a fuck about Jesus on today.

Cheyenne, do darling, how are you doing today? 

Cheyenne: hello? I’m great. How 

video1970169709: are 

De’Vannon: you? I’m fan fucking, you know, I love the cuss. Cussing is very cathartic and healing. Even people out there have not seen the history of swear words on Netflix [00:02:00] narrated by Nicholas cage. I need you to check it out that way you can understand why the fuck I cus so fucking much.

So I have back with me today. Cheyenne, be Hoku. And he’s coming to us from up there in Canada, Edmonton two spirit society. We did a show with her before and she really gave us a good breakdown on the indigenous history, you know, of Canada. And she gave us some good definitions and everything like that told us what two spirit meant and all these different things.

She ed us. And so today we have her back on to talk more about her, her personal struggles and everything like that. And I’m so proud of her for being so transparent to go over the topics that we are going to talk about today. Cheyenne, is there anything you’d like to say right now? 

Cheyenne: It’s just great to be back.

Just a gentle reminder that my pronouns are they them that I don’t usually her pronouns. 

De’Vannon: Okay. Sorry if I [00:03:00] messed that up or 

Cheyenne: something, but no, that’s okay. Yeah. It’s just it’s yeah, it’s kind of important. Also. You might hear my cat, he’s still adjusting to our move. We just moved into a new place last week.

And so he is a little anxious. He’s an anxious baby. So he might hear him meowing or he might jump up at some point. 

De’Vannon: I love cats. I wish I could own every cat in the world. I have two, they go out into their special Playhouse whenever I do meetings because my cats are hell needy. And there’s no way they let me get through a one hour conversation without causing a scene.

so 

Cheyenne: I just have a door that I could close but I don’t have that anymore in my new office space. So we’re just rolling with it. . 

De’Vannon: Give us a little brief, very quick rundown on the, the society that you work for and kind of what y’all do. 

Cheyenne: Yeah. So I work for the Edmonton two-spirit society. I’m the community liaison, and we’re a really small nonprofit organization in Edmonton, Alberta.

We’re traditionally known as a [00:04:00] Misu west Gein. And we primarily serve any indigenous person who identifies as two-spirit or queer trans gender diverse, sexually diverse as well as their kinship circles. So supporting family members, their networks and understanding their loved one, a little better.

So we provide access to like things like ceremonies, culture and other social events. And as well as a wide range of like mental health and social support. So we’re still a bit of a baby organization, but we have a lot of big plans for the next few years. 

De’Vannon: See there, they do all the things. And so.

And again, the first episode I shot with her, we have a lot more info on all of that and a lot of information in the showy notes. So today we’re, we’re gonna talk about your history, very chaotic history. And but you know, we plant seeds and dirt and mud and all this crazy shit, you know, and out of that dirt and feel comes up [00:05:00] the most beautiful things that we all use to sustain ourselves off of.

And so there’s nothing wrong with having issues because, you know, they make us who we are. So when we wrapped up our last conversation several weeks ago, we. You know, got onto the, the happy trail about you and stuff like that. And I learned some things about you that I didn’t know. So you have a history of meth addiction as do I, I don’t know what they call her in your neck of the woods, but down here they call her Tina, you know, miss tea T 

Cheyenne: I mean, it’s been a while since I was in that circle back in my day, we used to call it jib or pin are kind of like two of the, the common terms here, but I’ve also heard like ice or, you know, the usual ones, but yeah.

Jib or pin are like the ones that I 

De’Vannon: always used. Mm-hmm are these, they call her that [00:06:00] fucking bitch, you know? Cause she, she ruins things. And so so what would age range was, was the meth addiction? What age range was this? Yeah. 

Cheyenne: So like you said, my, my background is messy and complicated, but I started using math at age 14.

And it took me about three years. So I was into my 17th year when I finally was able to stop using. 

De’Vannon: Okay. Do you remember who got you into it for the first time or how that oh yeah, 

Cheyenne: I remember the exact moment. Oh yeah. 100%. I, so I grew up in a really violent household, just a trigger warning for anyone listening that my story does come with, like child abuse and trauma and all those hard things.

As well as like indigenous trauma and [00:07:00] residential schools, all of that’s a part of my story. So I left home at 14. I was adopted by my aunt and uncle and we can talk a little bit more about that. But I was adopted by my biological aunt and her husband and brought into their family. And after like a sustained well of like physical abuse in the home, I decided to leave at age 14.

And so I was kind of living on the streets for a little while there prior to getting placed into a group home. And it was during that initial time that I had on the streets. And so I had met some person like on, I think like Nextopia, which was like a popular social media. It was like Facebook, but way before Facebook.

And it was like made here in Edmonton. So it was like our own little social media that we had. And so I had met this guy and we like started dating or whatever. I was 14, he was like 16. But we were both unhoused at the time. And so we were like hanging out on the streets and he had this gay man that he was friends with.

And in Edmonton, I don’t know where you live, but in Edmonton, it’s common. And particularly in the inner [00:08:00] city for there to be what we call rooming hoses. So it’s just like a building full of like isolated suites that have enough room for like a bed. It’s a small little kitchenette and usually the bathroom is down the hall.

And so they’re quite small. You can’t really fit a lot of people in there, but my boyfriend at the time, and I moved in with this gay guy and he had about like four other queer men living there with him. And my boyfriend would like go and try and find work during the day. And so I was often like hanging out with these queer guys and one of them one day was like, Hey, you wanna come for a hoot?

And I was like, I smoked cannabis at the time and was like, and I thought I knew about drugs. Like I had heard a lot about the acids and the, the ketamines, but I hadn’t really tried anything to that point, other than weed, I smoked a lot of weed and he is like, Hey, you wanna come for a hoot? And then like, he’s like taking me to the bathroom.

And I was like, yeah, I figured it was just gonna be cannabis. And he pulled out a light bulb and like had like his whole little setup and started pouring the crystals in. And I was like the. Fuck is that and I was just fascinated by the [00:09:00] whole process and it was just like extra sketchy, cuz we were in this bathhouse like bathroom in this rooming house.

Not a bathhouse. We were not in a bathhouse. I, I was underage at this time. So that was my first time using it. I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. And it was like harmless enough, but I can trace the following three years back to that moment and not really understanding what it was.

And like I said, just being so fascinated by the whole process and being like instantly brought into it.

De’Vannon: I dunno how it was for you, but it wasn’t until after, you know, I went through traumatic experiences that I became open, you know, to drugs and stuff like that. Cuz people had been offering them to me all my life and I always said no. Do you feel like had you. You know, you’re basically homeless at the time.

Do you think that if you were at home in a more [00:10:00] supportive situation that you would’ve accepted that, or, you know, from him. Yeah, 

Cheyenne: I think about that a lot, because I was born into trauma. Right. I was born into grief and that’s not even just an indigenous thing. It’s just like, my family is so broken. And like, we’re doing a lot better now.

I just wanna preface that I have a fairly decent relationship with my aunt and uncle now. We haven’t quite worked through a lot of this stuff yet. I’m hoping that will come. And if they listen to this, I love you. But you know, growing up in a home where the people that were supposed to care for me, because they had adopted me, they instead of like providing a safe space for me, they further traumatized me.

Right. And so I also have ADHD. And I think it’s really important to note that I was already on Ritalin at a really young age. I, I think they had me on Ritalin at. Grade one. So I was already on subs like stimulants. I had already been using stimulants for a number of years prior to actually having that first encounter with [00:11:00] meth.

So like, I think my likelihood of getting into it probably would’ve been a lot more dis decreased, but just by understanding my family’s history with addiction, my own history with substances that were prescribed to me, I likely probably still would’ve engaged in that, but maybe not as early or not as aggressively than I had, but I mean, it’s all speculation, right?

De’Vannon: I’m here from some, I’m here for some speculation this morning. I’m here from some specul. I am, I really am this ING. Cuz what I’m thinking is like, you know, drugs, you know, release so much dopamine in different chemicals. Yes. Chemicals in us that make us feel all yummy. You know, when we’re walking around feeling bad and miserable, it creates like an emotional deficit and drugs feel that void it’s, you know, it’s a complete opposite direction.

And, you know, and there seems to me to be like a [00:12:00] pattern and a trend to people who are generally unhappy or who wrestle a lot in life and struggle who like tend to find drugs and cl to them. Now, when I was going through it, I didn’t realize that that’s what I was getting out of the drugs. I thought that I was just partying and having to get time.

I didn’t realize that I was actually trying to make myself feel better and numb pain. And so I wanna point that out. Cause I’d like people to be aware, you know, sometimes you’re just partying for the sake of part and there’s nothing more than a fucking party, but sometimes you’re actually trying to to patch over trauma, but you’re not really addressing the issue.

And then as soon as you sober up, you’re gonna want more because then the pain comes back. 

Cheyenne: Yeah. Yeah. It’s like such a temporary fix to that heavier stuff that we carry around, you know, and I think for a long time, that’s actually what it was for me, you know? And when I was unhoused and using meth, a lot of times it was also to stay awake, cuz I was walking around all night and didn’t have anywhere to sleep.

And so [00:13:00] you’re trying to wait it out until like the, the local drop in opens, you know, so you need to be up and alert all night. And so it was helpful for that. But you know, when I did quit smoking meth, I didn’t stop using drugs. Like I wanna be super clear about that. Like I stopped using meth at 17, but I still used other substances for a number of years.

And even to this day, I’m not totally sober and very open that I, I use cocaine a couple times a year. I use mushrooms a couple times a year, but it’s not at all where I’d start on a Friday and finish on a Monday, you know in my twenties, like when I was raving a lot and really partying hard. And I think at that time I was masking the trauma and I was masking that pain and not really conscious of it and aware of it.

So as much as I’m like, oh yeah, I’m just partying. No, I’m actually just needing to start dealing with my stuff and I’m not quite there yet, you know? I’m there now, but it’s, it’s taken me a little while to get there. 

De’Vannon: so then it require, I’m thankful that you’re there. It requires like, you know, a gut check moment or several of them, [00:14:00] because, you know, as a drug dealer, when I was a drug dealer, I I’d say probably 95% of my clientele, you know, was probably going way too hard on the meth and all the other drugs that I was selling them.

And I only had very few who were like, they only did meth or G or whatever I was selling on their birthdays or when they travel, you know, most people didn’t have that sort of discipline, but that discipline does exist. But the thing is, if you’re already doing drugs and you’re actually doing it in a balanced, fun way, if a traumatic experience happens, you could slip into this.

Into this, what we’re talking about, where you’re now, what was once just fun. You’re actually now using it to deal with the trauma and you may not be consciously aware of it. And so if something really bad happens, I would say probably stop the drugs for a moment until you get your shit sorted out so [00:15:00] that you don’t overlap that pleasure of the drugs and get it mixed in with whatever bad thing has befallen you.

Yeah. 

Cheyenne: If I find that I’m having a tough time in life, or if I’m struggling, stressed out, mental health is bad. I know that that’s not a time to reach for substances or alcohol. Right. It’s really in a moment of recreation, I’m at a music festival. It’s like a celebrate. I don’t even really wanna say celebratory, but it’s, you know, a more intentional kind of move as opposed to, I’m just trying to like deal with my stress in a, in a, in a trauma response kind of way that I’m used to.

So I’m pretty good now at, at understanding the difference there. And like I say, I don’t I try to avoid substances if I’m not doing well in my head. cause I know it’s a slippery slope. 

De’Vannon: And so I wanna walk down the path that you’re talking about. You know, it sounds like you basically harm reduced yourself to a point where you can manage the different narcotics and substances.

I don’t think drugs are bad. [00:16:00] I think they can become bad for certain people. And it’s for us to understand when the shit’s gone too far, when you need, you need to dial it back or stop. Now, what you’ve done goes against a lot of conventional. I won’t call it wisdom because I don’t find it to be very wise, a lot of conventional advice, like the anonymous movements and shit like that.

Try to give out and where, and they say once an addict, always an addict you know, and I just don’t believe in that. And so. So I, I love that you’re being transparent and telling the world that yeah, I used to be strung out on meth and you know what, now I’m able to just do me a couple of bumps of cocaine a year and be good with that or whatever may come along.

But what do you think about how, you know, oh, here’s the kitty let’s 

Cheyenne: Steve don’t show 

De’Vannon: them your bubble please. Hey Steve. Yeah, it’s happy Friday. He’s like, look at his ass[00:17:00]

Cheyenne: ass, a small, he in a house. So he is really curious about everything right now. 

De’Vannon: Yeah. So what are your thoughts about he has stripes like my, like my eldest cat, Felix. What are your thoughts about how the anonymous movement like crystal meth anonymous? Alcoholics anonymous tries to keep people under that thumb of always being an addict forever and saying, if you ever use anything ever again, and RA a rock will happen in your life.

Cheyenne: Yeah. I mean, I have, I have friends and family that are in the program. And it, it, if it works for them, it works for them. But in my personal experience, in trying to use those programs, it was very shameful. I was like taught to feel shameful of my decisions, taught to feel shameful of my trauma responses.

And I just, I, I also don’t resonate with religion as we spoke about before. And so a lot of those programs are centered around go. And even though it’s like good orderly direction, it still has like a religious undertone to me. Which [00:18:00] makes me feel uncomfortable just in general. But the whole idea of like, you know, a relapse is like the end of the world, or, you know, you have to like repent, anytime you’d make a mistake.

There’s just like a lack of humanity there, or like an imposition of shame that we don’t need to hold. Right. Like I Tru I do believe in harm reduction because I’ve seen the benefits in my own life and how it’s. Like been a benefit to the community that I serve. And I don’t feel that those programs honor that space of harm reduction or that space of like meeting people where they’re at and, and, and understanding their traumas.

You’re standing up in these rooms and you’re talking about your pain, but. It’s not therapy. Do you know what I mean? Like it’s not a substitute for actually sitting down and working through your traumas because the people in that room are not equipped to support you through that process because they also need someone else supporting them.

So peer based education, peer based support is definitely beneficial, but at some point we also need to realize that like those rooms, you know, there’s not a lot of success rate that [00:19:00] come out of them. You need to actually be like attending them. And there’s like a lot of research around the productivity of these, of these spaces.

And they’re not super. Great. Like they, they tend to lead to relapse a lot more actually. And I think that’s really worth noting. Like you’re going into these rooms thinking that you’re gonna get better. And at some point you might just be retraumatizing yourself by listening to these stories and putting yourself back on that path, which then is then shamed if you use again.

So I don’t really resonate with those rooms, but again, I, I honor and respect that it does work for some people. Some people really need that rigidity in the routine to be able to say on their path. I’m not one of those people. So it didn’t really work for me. I found that what got me to where I’m at today was.

My, my mom, like my biological mom, she was an addict for many years. Had a pretty severe addiction to alcohol and you know, injection drug use contracted Hep C at one point during the poor, the process of her drug use. And that’s why she didn’t raise me. Right. But so [00:20:00] she tried the rooms when she was getting sober, but it was really having support from her family that got her there.

And that’s what got me to where I’m at. So if I’m having a rough time or if I need support, I call my biological mom and we talk about it. And it’s just a really open Frank conversation. And I really appreciate that she can hold that space for me because, you know, she had to take accountability to the harms that she also caused me that got me to the point where I need to talk about this stuff.

Right. So she’s able to like actually come to terms with what she’s done, her choices, how it’s impacted me, and then now my choices, if all of that makes sense. Welcome to my long winded responses. Again. 

De’Vannon: Hey, use all the fucking winds you want. 

Cheyenne: Blow through mm-hmm 

De’Vannon: so let me, let me, let me think, let me think.

Let me think. So I’m gonna throw a little bit of shade at the anonymous movements. You know, I found them to be very negative and I’m saying this because there’s probably somebody out there listening. [00:21:00] Who’s new with this whole fighting addiction and everything. And the anonymous movements might be one of the first things that someone throws at them or something like that.

And it just reminded me so much of being in church, you know, where they think that their way is better than any other way. And they’re not willing to be open minded and take a second look at things. And it’s just so Just so bad, you know, and like you said, when I would, I would go to the meetings feeling happy by the time the shit was over, I would feel heavy and depressed.

Like I wanted to go get high, you know, from listening to the, a bunch of grown ass men, bitch and moan, you know, and everything like that. And it just, it never worked for me. I did not like re you know, calling yourself an addict every time. The whole point is to get over being an addict where they don’t believe you can ever be healed, but at the same time, what sentences are gonna say, what sense is gonna do for me to sit here and say, I’m an addict every damn day.

You know? Cause sometimes they want you go to meetings three times a [00:22:00] day. It’s like you’re reaffirming the negatives thing that you’re trying to get away from. But if it, if, if it’s a program trying to keep you under their foot and under their thumb, then it works great for their agenda, which is the same thing.

The church does a lot of times as they have the, the members in a certain way, that you can never really be free of them. It’s like, you always are gonna need them for some reason. And I also found them to be hypocritical because all the, all the shit they talk about drugs, the pots of coffee that they would go through, you know, at every meeting and how they chain smoke cigarettes and shit outside.

I said, okay, let me get this straight. I’m not supposed to do cocaine or meth or anything, never again for the rest of my life, but you can smoke five packs of cigarettes and drink 10 gallons of coffee a day. Okay.

Cheyenne: yeah, it is. It is quite hypocritical. Yeah. And, and like, [00:23:00] even to the, the amount of like donuts or sugar that they provide, you know, and I’m not saying don’t feed people, like, obviously we should feed people in these faces, but like, it is ironic that they then, you know, encourage other basically you’re just substituting your one addiction for something else.

Right. And I think that’s too, is the rooms also become an addiction of it’s. So I think that’s kind of my other issue with them is that because we’re not really teaching people how to build their toolkits up, to respond to traumatic moments or stressful moments, we’re actually just creating further dependency onto the rooms.

And so then you’re not actually helping them be able to maintain it when there’s no access to a room or when that’s not a, an option, because then, then what’s the next option to them. It’s the room, drugs, the room or alcohol. Right. And it doesn’t have to be like that. There’s a whole other spectrum of supports that exist between the room and the drugs.

De’Vannon: Mm. And so help me understand, how was it like [00:24:00] growing up, like in an adopted home? Did you know that your mother was out there somewhere? Did she reappear randomly out of nowhere? One day? 

Cheyenne: Yeah, she was in and outta my life. So I can like start from the beginning. So yeah, like my grandparents were both on my mother’s side, I don’t know my biological father, so I’ve never met him.

I don’t know anything about his family. When him and my mother were together they, she, he was quite abusive to her. And so he was actually it got to the point where she was too scared to tell him that she was pregnant with me because she thought that he would basically just. Forced her to abort or beat her up to miss Carrie.

And so he actually went to jail and so she fled Vancouver and came back to Edmonton and had me here without the knowledge of my father. So whether or not my father knows I’m alive, I have, I have no idea. But so my mother on my mother’s side is all indigenous say for like one or two family [00:25:00] members through the line that were, were settler.

And so we come from drift Powell, CRE nation in Northern Alberta. I was not born and raised there because my grandmother’s only experiences with the residential schools and abuse. From her partner, my grandfather she left the reserve at a young age when my mom was really young and raised all her children in Edmonton.

And it was very like an intentional thing where she didn’t want us to grow up on the reserve. She wanted us to have better access, to supports and grow up in a healthier way without the violence, which didn’t necessarily work cuz some of that trauma. So deep-rooted right. We just carry it between family members, between generations.

And so my mother struggled with substances, as I mentioned and tried really hard to take care of me for the first couple of years, brought me back to British Columbia and there’s like this weird timeline in my story where I actually. Don’t know what happened to me. So there was some sort of incident in Parksville where my mother was living at the time and social services got involved and, and I don’t know the true story, but I’ve heard that [00:26:00] I was found like in a pile of pills in a hotel room, I’ve heard that my mother was like passed out on a couch in an apartment and social workers found me.

So I don’t really know the actual story. No, one’s really kind of given me clarity, but my grandmother came to BC and brought me back to Edmonton. And then I was raised by my aunt and uncle. And so I knew that I was adopted. Like they didn’t try to hide that from me. And my mom was really struggling with alcohol at the time, particularly.

And so my household that I was growing up in was alcohol free. So that was one good thing about my home. There was a lot of cannabis in my house, but I had three siblings that were my biological aunts children. And they had it slightly better than I did, I would say. But my mom would like come in and out.

So she took me back again in grade three. I can’t remember how old I was in grade three. Like, I don’t know, eight maybe. And she took me back and brought me back into her care. And then one day she just never picked me up from [00:27:00] school. And I was waiting and waiting and waiting and she had relapsed and was back out on the streets partying.

And so I ended up back in social services and I was actually at a foster home for a few months before my aunt and uncle took me back in. So my mom was, was in and out of the picture. She would come to like the odd family events and stuff, but it was mainly my aunt and uncle that were, were raising me and, and doing so in violence at that 

De’Vannon: time.

Okay. I’m on that violence from the aunt in just a second. So having never met your father. How, how do you feel about that? Do you have peace about that? I ask because so many times I come across people who really, really, really have a big problem with not knowing one or both of their parents. Where are you on that?

Cheyenne: Yeah, it does bother me. Not so much because I wanna know him, like if he was treating my mom poorly and was like, my mom was [00:28:00] terrified of him. I don’t necessarily wanna know that person. But he has a family. I have grandparents on that side. I know I have two half brothers I don’t know their names, so my dad’s name was Walter Adams and he was born in Scarborough, Ontario, and that’s like the only information that I have about him.

And then he had two sons. I haven’t been able to find any other information out. And I refuse to do like one of those DNA things, cuz I don’t want them having my DNA on the that’s like a colonizer tactic, not giving them my DNA. But it’s been a thing of like what medical. Things are in my, in my family’s history that I should know about what culture am I from?

Right. There could be a whole beautiful thing that I could be immersing myself in. Maybe my family’s Scottish or Irish, or I have no idea. So it would be lovely to be able to connect with what other parts of my heritage exist. And also too, like who do I look like? Like I know, I look like my mom, I can see my mom and myself, but I’d love to know what my dad looked like, because it would just give clarity about who am I as a [00:29:00] person.

And like, how did I get this beautiful brain of mine? And where does my personality come from? Cuz it doesn’t always match my mom and right. So like there’s stuff like that where I’m like, I would love to know who is Cheyenne, but there’s a half of me that I’ll never know. So there’s a half of me that I’ll never understand where it came from and it doesn’t work quite like that genetics and stuff.

It’s not half and half, but you know, I’m, I’m just always curious about how I got to be the person I am and I can see a lot of my mom and myself, but I also see a lot of what’s probably my dad. 

De’Vannon: I heard you say you felt like the the DNA test was, is a colonizer tactic. Tell me about that. Well, it’s just, they keep 

Cheyenne: your day in DNA on file.

And they’re using it. I mean, it is pretty cool that they’re using DNA now to like solve cold cases and like that kind of thing, but like, they keep your DNA on file and they can use that for however they wish. Like that just makes me feel UN uneasy. I just, yeah, I don’t know. like, like, it feels like a colonizer, like just like gaining in control by containing [00:30:00] DNA.

Like it’s like my ultimate that’s as intimate a part of me as you can get. 

De’Vannon: I can understand that. And you, you know what, there’s no reason why you’re not right. Cuz what you’re saying is once it’s out there, it’s out there and you really don’t know who the fuck has it. 

Cheyenne: yeah. That’s my issue with it is where does it go?

And like I say, like I don’t have issues with law enforcement using it to, to solve murders and get justice for people. But at the same time I feel like if my consent should be given for that and I guess when they take your DNA, they probably have some sort of consent form and that’s on the release form.

I’m guessing. I’m not sure I’ve never tried. Cause I’m just, it, it makes me nervous. 

De’Vannon: so when you say like, so your aunt and uncle were the people who adopted you, who were abusive to you, you know, I’m getting like you know, do you mind telling us like how was, were they like withholding food from you, locking you in a closet or hit, you know, hitting you.[00:31:00]

Yeah, 

Cheyenne: it was never like, I wanted to be super clear. Like I love my aunt and uncle, and I wanna acknowledge that my aunt came from the same like violent background that my mother did. Right. So she carried a lot of that stuff forward. My uncle has some stuff that was never really revealed to me, but he was going through some stuff out of him.

I’m not trying to excuse their behavior. It’s just a way of me trying to understand and process what happened to me. And I still hold a lot of love for them. And again, if they’re listening, I love you. But I, I, I talk openly about what happened to me because that’s who Cheyenne is. And if you didn’t want me to talk about it, then you shouldn’t have done it.

Okay. And that’s my that’s my bottom line is like, if you didn’t want me to talk about my hurt, then why did you hurt me? Because I was a child. And so yeah, it, it, it, I, because I have ADHD, I have a lot of behavioral problems and no one really sat down with us and explained what ADHD meant. Right. And they never really [00:32:00] explained rejection, sensitivity, dysphoria, or explained executive dysfunction or all like the complexities of ADHD.

Usually people think like, oh, they can’t sit still. And like, you see me, I’m fidgeting with something all the time. I’m never really sitting still, but ADHD is actually really. Impactful on so many parts of my life. And now as an adult, I understand that. But as a kid, my behavioral issues that came from ADHD, but also from a place of trauma and me trying to like fit into this world that I didn’t, as I mentioned last time, I feel like I’m the in between person, right.

I’m always in between kind of everything. And that was even in my childhood. And so whenever I would do something or if I, I, and I’m trying to, like, when I look back at my childhood, I’m, I’m trying to pinpoint exact moments of things that I did. And I can never remember what I did. I just remember the abuse after.

And that’s like really telling, because it was probably something super mild that I did. So some of the punishments that I would receive were yep. Having fooled food with help from me. So a big tactic was taking away my [00:33:00] mattress and just leaving me on a two, like a plank, like a plywood, my bed frame and locking me in my room and I wasn’t allowed to play with anything or talk to anybody or, or anything.

So it was isolation by myself in my room, like like you’re in the hole or something in jail, you know? And they wouldn’t feed me. They wouldn’t nothing. And one time I remember I was playing with a pencil crayon and my uncle came in to check on me and saw me with a pencil crayon and beat me with a pencil crayon.

And so I had like bruises and, and everything. And I had to go to camp that, that week. And so I went to camp with all these bruises and had to lie and say that I like fell off my bike and it was like a whole thing. But, so that was a big one was lots of like physical violence. Lots of like manipulation of like, you know, calling me a slot or like using really like, like aggressive language or towards me, weird like psychological stuff where they would one time they pretend to abandon me.

We were going on a camping trip and they drove away without me and left me [00:34:00] standing in the yard. And I was abandoned as a child by my mother. Right. So not growing up with my mom, I have abandoned in trauma. And so when they left me, it’s like something that I’m processing in therapy right now.

Going back to that, that moment of like, they was a joke to them. But to me it was traumatizing because I still carry that now, like 30 years later, you know, of like, they just drove away, but they came back like 10 minutes later, you know? Yeah, lots of like, or if I didn’t wanna eat something, we weren’t allowed to leave the table until we ate it.

So I fucking hate zucchini. I will not eat zucchini. I hate fish because it’s a trauma around that. Right. Like being forced to sit there and. You’re not allowed to eat anything else. And if you didn’t finish eating it, then you’d go to bed without any other food. You’d come back in the morning and you’d go back to the table and have to finish eating that.

And so step zucchini is my fucking nemesis. I hate it. Just because of that. So yeah, lots of like physical violence, lots of like mental, emotional stuff. Like psychological stuff. [00:35:00] Yeah. And from a young age, like it started as, as early as I can remember. I don’t even remember when it started, but yeah, young and it carried right through until I would say I was in grade six.

And that’s because my, my sister, my cousin, she got social services involved. She had run away to my grandmother’s house and social services were contact and they did an investigation. And so the physical violence stopped at that point, but the, the emotional violence was still continuing. And so I was 14.

I was in grade seven or grade nine. Sorry. When I, when I made the decision to leave the house. So the physical violence had stopped at like 12. But yeah, the mental, emotional stuff carried through throughout junior high. 

De’Vannon: I, so, you know, I, I, I have so much respect for you. You’re able to have such a positive attitude and everything like that about, you know, towards these people, kudos to you.

So what was it like having a mother who was on and off of [00:36:00] drugs like that? Do you remember how that affected you or I just 

Cheyenne: remember being like, why doesn’t she want me. Like, why doesn’t she love me? Right? Like that’s, that’s I think the biggest thing that I took away of like, nobody wants me, my mom doesn’t want me, my dad doesn’t want me.

And then now these people who are supposed to care for me, who made the choice, they chose to bring me into their house instead of loving me and protecting me, they further traumatized me. And so I think that was the thing that I struggled with the most as a kid of like, not understanding why everything was happening to me and not understanding why choices were being made for me.

And where was my mom? Like, and then when she did come in, she would be drunk or she’d have a new boyfriend and like, it would just be uncomfortable, you know? So like, yeah. I just remember just always wondering, like, what’s next like, why, why is this happening? Like, and I just block out a lot of my childhood.

There’s a lot of like memories that I just don’t have. And a part of that is an ADHD thing. Just cuz I have a terrible time forming [00:37:00] memories. But I think I’ve just shut down a lot of my childhood. And I remember some of the heavier traumatic moments, but some of the good times are gone too.

You know, like I try. I’m figuring it out. But yeah, it’s just, you know, it was a lot of confusion for my childhood of like, why doesn’t she wanna get better? Why doesn’t she want me, why doesn’t anybody want me, you know?

And that’s like a hard thing to carry as an adult. Like even still being chronically single for three years. You’re like even still, nobody wants me, you know, but I know that’s not at the end of the day, that’s not true. It’s just, you know, things you carry forward from your 

De’Vannon: past. I have every belief that you are going gain the strength you need to totally overcome at all.

And so I’m curious. So we have all of this fuckery that, that didn’t happen. Would you have the experience once you broke away [00:38:00] from your aunt, uncle and you were now homeless, you know, a homeless youth, did you find like a community in a sense of family out there in the streets that you felt like you had found for the first time?

Yeah. 

Cheyenne: I would say in particular, like we had our straight family, you know, we would like, like ride around on our BMXs and hang out in the square and play ack and smoke meth and stairwells, you know, I had that crew, but it was when I started raving that I really found myself and I really felt like I found a community.

So I started going to the after hours when I was like 14, but I would like always get kicked out. Cause I was, they had passed a bylaw that it was 16 plus. So I had a couple years to wait, so I would go in, they’d kick me out. And so everybody knew me in the parking lot to hang out in the parking lot a lot.

But that was where I really started to find a community for the first time where I felt like I was like loved and welcomed. And for all of my. Weirdness all my flaws, all my eccentric nest that I bring to the table that was like [00:39:00] welcomed in the rave community, because a lot of the people that we shared space with were also coming from background similar to mine, or coming from spaces where they were the, the black sheep, the ostracized one, the, you know, and so I think that was the space where I was like, oh, I, I actually belong in this world.

And, and then that’s okay that I exist.

De’Vannon: Honey, the, the tears you’re shedding right now are not in vain. You know, I feel like, I feel like they’re healing you, you know, I see those tears and I appreciate appreciate them because I believe they’re healing you. And also, I believe you’re shedding tears for other people too. Who’ve gone through the similar things.

And so, and I love how you’re just letting ’em flow. You’re like, you know what? This is me. They call me cry 

Cheyenne: in for a reason. always crying. 

De’Vannon: let it go, honey, let it go. Let it go. Let it go. 

Cheyenne: Well, and I think it’s important [00:40:00] that people hear my story because, and that’s why I don’t shy away from talking about the harder stuff.

Even though I know it’s like other people’s story too. It’s, it’s very much my story. And I think that if someone can hear my story and know that like you’re gonna be okay, like it’s gonna be okay, you don’t have to be what other people tell you that you are or who you’ve been made out to think that you are like, you’re just so beautiful and perfect the way you are.

And like, no matter how much other people beat you, like that’s never, they’re never gonna beat that out of you. Like that’s yours to own. And I think I’ve had to really accept that. None of those things were my fault, everything that happened to me, some of the decisions I made when I started using meth and like living on the streets and being more violent, those were my choices that I have to own, but I didn’t ask my aunt and uncle to beat me.

I didn’t ask to be adopted. I didn’t ask to be born. Right. And so a lot of that staff I had to really just separate mm-hmm my. My choices from their choices. And so that’s why I say, if you don’t want me to talk about my story, then don’t hurt me. [00:41:00] Like, if, if you don’t want that to be part of my story, then don’t make it part of my story.

And I think that goes like with any person that comes into my life now, it’s not just about my aunt and uncle it’s about anybody, you know, like, and I’ve had really good conversations with my biological mom. Like I said about everything that she’s done about the abandonment and about how it’s impacted me now as adult.

But I haven’t quite had that conversation with my aunt and uncle yet. And so I know it’s coming. And I don’t know if it’s gonna go in a positive direction or Renee. I don’t know if it’s like gonna be a make or break for our relationship, but I’m ready to have the conversation. I still have a few more therapy sessions before I, I get to that point, but I’m, I’m almost there to have the conversation of like, this is what you did and this is how it’s affected me.

And I just need to hear you be accountable for it. Right. And like, I love you. I forgive you, but I, I need you to hold space for my pain.

De’Vannon: I commend you on your bravery. You you gotta. You you gotta walk ahead of you, but [00:42:00] but you know, but you’re doing everything that you can do because you can’t really control it, what anyone else does, but at least, you know, you have a strong sense of peace knowing you exhausted every possible means to sort it all out.

And then you haven’t acccess to anger. You haven’t become bitter, you know, or anything like that. And that’s something that I’m noticing, and that can happen to people by it’ll just get angry and stuff like that, and not really do anything except for stay angry. But what, one thing, one good thing I did learn from my sponsor and crystal meth anonymous is that bitterness and resentment it’s like me drinking poison and expecting someone else to die.

so, so, so however it is that you do it. Y’all let that bitterness go. Let it go. Let it go. Let it go. Let it go. I like stay on this, the, the, the, the, the homeless, like, youth experience, because I’m, I’m thinking about like, say [00:43:00] chosen family and things like that. So like, so like when the biological family doesn’t quite work out in.

Sometimes I see people who just cannot get over their biological family. Be it sisters, brothers, cousins, moms, dads, whatever. I dare say. I think some people have an addiction to family. Okay. I, I, I do believe that. What do you think about chosen family? Because there’s a lot of people. There’s a lot of us, black sheepy ones.

Okay. It’s never gonna work out with us in our biological family. And I just think it’s time we come to terms with that. 

Cheyenne: yeah. It’s, it’s the dependency thing. We’re like we’re indoctrinated to believe that our family is like, we need to be right or die with our family. No matter how much they hurt us. And I just can’t get on board with that.

Like it’s like being in a toxic relationship, being with an abusive partner, we wouldn’t say, oh no, you need to stay with them because you love them. Right. We would say, no, that person is hurting. You, you need to separate yourself [00:44:00] from them. That person does not bring you joy, separate yourself from them.

And I think that’s the same with the family. You know, like I say, it it’ll be a make or break conversation with my family because like, it’s, it, it, it, it just has gotta happen. But I think that’s why I love my chosen family so much, you know like particularly the rave community helped me for so many years, and now I have a drag family and like The drag community has been so much just so loving and caring and comforting for me.

And I’ve only been doing drag since August. And so I found a chosen family, even within that small group of people and it was instant. It was like, they were just like, yeah, I see you. And I love you for who, who you are. And so I’m, I’m a firm believer in chosen family as well. I think we need to make spaces for ourselves that bring us joy, Marie condo, that shit.

If, if, if your family does not spark joy, fucking, just move on and, and find someone who does carry you. Someone who is willing to love you in your messy times, someone who is willing to say, Hey, you’re fucking up. How do we fix that? [00:45:00] Someone who can call you in and, and, and cry with you and love with you and celebrate with you.

And if your family’s not willing to do that and accept you for who you are, then it’s okay to step away. Like, and I, and I firmly believe that. 

De’Vannon: And we’re not saying it won’t take some counseling and some talking through because it, oh, no 

Cheyenne: therapy, like, please get, get a therapist, please. 

De’Vannon: Cause it’s like, when you leave biological family, it’s almost like they’ve died in a way.

And, and I, and I found, I had to like mourn the loss, you know, of a certain sibling of mine when, when there was just no path forward for us because of bitterness that they hold towards me and they refused to talk through it. You know, it felt like it was like, it was like attending a funeral for them.

And it was, and I had to, you know, you know, I talked to my counselor and everything about that and, you know, we were able to find peace and resolution. I was curious like your aunt and uncle are they like, [00:46:00] do they say they’re like religious people. Not at all. 

Cheyenne: No, no, no, no, no, not at all. No, we, we did not grow up with religion.

My grandmother was the religious one. And so I spent much of my youth, like I said, in going to church and choir and like doing all the things. But my family was never really there at church. They would go like once a year, but in the last couple of years, a lot of my family has been really embracing our indigenous side, which has been beautiful to see.

So not quite going to ceremonies and stuff yet, but you know, rejecting Canada day, rejecting religion you know, even starting to reject the religious holidays, which has been really great for me because I’m like, I feel bad that I’m not coming to Christmas dinner, but like I’m not celebrating Christmas anymore.

It’s just not my thing. It’s not for me. I don’t believe in it. But yes, it’s been really great to see them embrace the indigenous kind of side of things. And, and thankfully religion. Wasn’t a big part of my story outside of like the earlier part of my years.[00:47:00]

De’Vannon: So, so then you get into a group home, so you’re no longer homeless. So when you were homeless, like you said that you were like smoking meth to walk, you know, to stay up all night. It reminded me when I was, when I was homeless in Houston, I would constantly have meth in my system. And so I would just walk and walk and walk and walk and walk, you know, that’s when I walked myself down to 127 pounds, you know, everything like that.

And it was whew. I was barely here. This, this, this girl was barely here. And so

how often did you eat? Because for me it was about like maybe every five, seven days or so. I might come across food. Do you remember. 

Cheyenne: Well, see, I had a unique experience because I was in high school at the time. So I was still attending classes and I, I love my high school there. It was the boil street education center.

And they have a meal program, [00:48:00] so they feed their students breakfast and lunch, and that was a big way of getting me into school. So I was like living in like the river valley. I would hike up the stairs in the morning, come out of the, come out of the ravine and go to class and, and be able to get a hot breakfast and a hot lunch.

And so school, as much as I wasn’t so engaged in the material. It could keep me there because they would feed me. And they’re smart. It was a very intentional thing for them. And even to this day, the school still feeds their students. Two meals a day. They have hamper programs, they have supports for their students.

And so when I was, when I was homeless, it was like a really big thing for me, was to be able to go and eat Monday to Friday. And then Saturdays, it would depend if I would make it to the soup kitchen or not. There would be days when I wouldn’t make it to school or wouldn’t make it to soup kitchen and I’d go without food.

Or when school was off during the summer, so they have more of a year round program. So they’re really only off for part of July and August. And so there would be that short brief of time where I wouldn’t have two [00:49:00] meals a day. And. From 14 to 16. So when I was 16, even though I was still using meth, my biological mom was sober by that point.

And so she got a new home. She got like an apartment and I moved in with her for a while. So I lived with her for a year while I was still using meth. And I was still very street involved. I had a space to go home and sleep in, but I was still like very much out and about on the street all hours of the night and day.

But I was getting food at that point. So, 

De’Vannon: and you said in the was it a hamburger program you said? I couldn’t quite hear. Yeah. They call it a ham, a hamper program. 

Cheyenne: Yeah. We have hamper programs yeah. At the school as well. I’m actually the board of directors for the high school. I’m still involved with the school.

I just really believe in the work that they’re doing because they saved my life. Like it was boil street being like, yeah, you’re tweaked out. You’re, you’re a sketchy wild child, but we’re gonna just love you and accept you as you are. And again, that’s where my earliest [00:50:00] introductions to harm reduction came from, was through the school of like, yeah, you’re clearly sketching, but you’re still allowed to be here.

It wasn’t like, oh, you’re high on meth. You need to leave. It was like, oh, you’re high on meth. Let’s sit you down here and support you and give you extra attention so that, you know, you are going to be okay. Like, we make sure that you’re okay. And I just really appreciated that approach. So they, I would say they saved my life and they fed me, which I really appreciated.

De’Vannon: yeah, my God. I had too many doors closed in my face when I. High on meth and everything like that. I’m so glad you had a different experience and I didn’t have enough sense to go and find, like, I didn’t know that there was one stops and places you can go and shower and stuff like that. I tried to eat at the shower was 

Cheyenne: harder 

De’Vannon: for me.

Yeah. I tried to eat at the veteran’s affair. It’s like a soup kitchen that my cousin had told me about. I eat there like once and the next time I went back, they told me I was dressed too good. And so they turned me away. So they, so they [00:51:00] wouldn’t let me eat because I looked too good at the, at the veteran’s affairs.

And so. They were I 

Cheyenne: didn’t forbid I, how people look 

De’Vannon: nice. yeah. Like, and I think what it was is from where the drug rate had happened. I think, you know, when you’re homeless, you show from house to house, sometimes you might pick up a shirt here, pair of jeans there, that sort of thing. And I think some of my clothes may have been recycled back to me from when the drug rate happened.

My shit got scattered all over Houston. And so I was able to piecemeal a decent outfit together. I just, you know, and I just felt really good about myself for that one day at that one time. And you know, so I’m thinking I’m looking good. I’m gonna get me something to eat. You know, I haven’t shot up meth yet.

Otherwise I wouldn’t have an appetite and they’re like, Leave. And so I had to sit there and watch everybody eat, not once, but twice. And then I was denied food. And so I was like, you know what? Back to the streets I go then . And so 

Cheyenne: And I’m guessing that was run by some sort of, you said ministry. Oh, no veterans.

[00:52:00] So not religion based? No. Okay. A lot of RSU kitchens here are religion based. Two in part, part, two of the main ones are run by like churches. 

De’Vannon: You have them, they might be like under like a Catholic archdiocese or something like that. But the ones that are like that here are not very religious. Like they might say a prayer when all the homeless people get in there, otherwise disadvantaged people get there to eat, but nobody’s like coming around, handing you out little Bibles or anything like that.

No, this was a government facility. I’m a veteran of the United States air force at a veteran’s affairs. Kitchen. And I was denied food there even as a veteran. Yeah. That’s all that was, there was veterans. It was a place just for veterans. And so, but they told me that’s so frustrating. I wasn’t looking trashy enough for their, for their liking and 

Cheyenne: so gross.[00:53:00]

De’Vannon: Okay. So then. So then you got emancipated at the age of 17. Talk to me about that process. I think it’s abundantly clear why you probably wanted to be emancipated, but there’s something you’d like to say about the why I’d also like to know the, how. 

Cheyenne: Yeah. So when I left home at 14 and by the time I then began living with my mom at 16.

So in those years I was like in and out of group homes. I had some charges that I received as well for some stuff. So I was like in and out of the young offender center as well, never more than like a couple days or a week. I had 2, 2, 2 instances where I was in jail. But it was like going through group homes and going through like just constantly in and outta group homes.

And like, I always just felt like I’d just rather be on the streets. I would much rather be like, and I, I think part of that was like I had what’s that disorder. Oh, I can’t remember what it’s called anywheres, like pressed. What is I [00:54:00] can’t remember the name anyways. I just didn’t take to authority very well.

And I think it’s because when you grow up in violence and you grow up, like constantly being told how to think or act, or, you know, being punished for trying to be yourself you know, authority just is there’s conflicting there. Right. And so I just didn’t really like being in group homes. And so I was talking to my social worker at the time.

And I had a lot of bad social workers over the time as well. Like they just didn’t really want to actually like sit with me or support me. They would just throw a food voucher my way, or throw a clothing voucher my way and then, or throw me in a group home. And that would be it, there was not really a lot of like dignity coming from conversations with social workers.

And so when I talked to my social worker about it and I said, I think I’m ready to like, not be a part of the system anymore because I had been my whole life. Right. My mom. Adopted me out to my aunt and uncle. So I already had child welfare involvement from like a young age. And so for me, it just [00:55:00] made more sense to separate myself from the state, so to speak.

So I did have to go through a court process. I remember it being fairly easy. Because at that point I was living with my biological mom. And I was, I think I was actually 16 when I emancipated cuz I was still using at that time. But I just remember the court process being really easy. And I remember just being really like, that’s it like, there’s like, okay.

You’re and, but I mean, it, it cost me some support, so I didn’t get like any sort of food or clothing vouchers anymore. I didn’t have any financial assistance from, from child welfare or anything like that. So there was like a whole side of supports that I, I could have probably accessed. I think now it’s up until 23 is when you can access those supports.

At that time it was probably like 18 or 19. So I still had a few more years of support, but for me it just made more sense to be independent. And I was so fiercely independent because my whole [00:56:00]life, everybody that was supposed to care for me, let me down. And so at that point I also felt like the system had also let me down.

And so I just rather do the things on my own. And I’ve been doing things on my own ever since I’ve been, I left home at 14 and I’m still living alone and I’m, I’m very independent. I don’t ask for a lot of help. It’s hard for me to ask for help. So that’s a, a thing I’m, I’m learning to work through now of like being comfortable asking for help.

But for many years it was like, I just wanted do my own thing and getting out of the system was the best way to do that. So I’m glad I emancipated, but it’s not the great move for everybody. Right? Like some people might need additional supports moving forward. And I don’t know what it’s like in the states.

And I, and again, this was a number of years goes, I don’t even know what the emancipation process would be like now, if it would still be as easy for somebody, but I think they just saw a traumatized child who was willing to do it on their own. And it was easier to wipe themselves clean of it, not having to deal with it anymore.

Right. 

De’Vannon: Well, [00:57:00] you know what, here’s the freedom. I am so glad that you feel free. And so it’s so quintessential to our mental health and our emotional wellbeing. And I think I’m like you in terms of bucking against authority, you know, because I grew up in an abusive home too, that I went to the military, not to mention all the influence of the church and this every day I’m, I’m particular about whose authority I come under.

Like, and I, it is a miracle. I even made it out of the military. It was an honorable discharge because it’s not that I don’t like being told what to do, but I’m very particular because a lot of people wanna control others and they’re not really qualified or all that competent. And so that I agree like for, but you know, for a long time, I.

Well shit. That’s why I’m in business for myself because I really, I really don’t like being told what to do, just fuck it. I don’t. What, so you, you, you did say that you lived in group homes. What, what would you say to anybody currently? Who’s like a youth living in a group home because I know that came with this own set of [00:58:00] struggles and everything like that.

Just what advice would you give. 

Cheyenne: I think looking back there were some group homes that I probably could’ve actually thrived in if I would’ve just given it a little bit of more of a chance. And so I think it like really comes down to your own intuition. If a space doesn’t feel safe, like talk to your workers, talk to your support systems about that.

And I, I, I just like the streets seem like a better option, but it might not be right. Like a lot of stuff happened to me on the streets as well. That was violent and abusive. And I did a lot of violent and abusive things when I lived on the street as well. Like you’re in survival mode all the time.

Right. So I don’t know if I have like, necessarily like advice. I would just say like, Just do what feels what’s going to keep you safe. And just like, remember that you’re loved, like somebody out there loves you who like, and it may not seem that way when you’re in a group home, everything feels really isolating and scary.

And like I have social anxiety. And so it was already [00:59:00] awkward enough to be in these spaces with new people every few weeks. And like other youth who are just as angry as you are, you know? Yeah. I just like, it’s just about finding ways to keep yourself safe and recognizing that it’s okay to sometimes ask for that help.

And that not all authority or not all group homes are out to get. Yeah. Even though it fucking seems that way when you’re a kid I really wish I would’ve had more of an understanding of the disabilities I have and how I respond to authority. You know, and even my attachments, my attachment disorders and stuff like, yeah.

I, I, I think it’s really important that we start to understand who we are. And I think if you’re in a group home that can feel really overwhelming. And so I don’t know if I, yeah, I don’t know if I have the best advice other than I love you and you’re gonna get through it. 

De’Vannon: okay. Enough for me. So, so you emancipated at 17 and as we go, you know, we’re pretty much wrap this thing up.

We’ve covered a lot. So just [01:00:00] speak to speak to the peoples about how, how did you become successful? Guess whatever you wanna say about your role to stability and success. I know it looks different for everybody. And I also know the definition of success and stability is mutable and subject to change throughout our lives.

So how. Would you say the emancipation was a turning point where you knew you were on the up and up and the right. You know, you know, things were gonna get better, you know, what was the turning point for you and then how have you come to where you are today? 

Cheyenne: I don’t know if the emancipation was that moment, like looking back.

I think it was, but at the time I don’t really think I saw it as that much of. Deal like again now as an adult, I’m like, oh wow. That’s pretty RA that I was able to do that at a young age. A lot of people don’t have that opportunity, but for me, the turning point was when I was just like done with meth.

And so when I made the decision to actively quit smoking [01:01:00] meth, so I. My mom moved to a new apartment. And so I needed to find a new place to live. And I found myself living in a meth house like drug dealer, like my damage deposit went straight to the dealer’s hand kind of situation. It was a really unhealthy, unsafe space.

And one day I came home and a plane closed police officer answered my door and told me everything about. I had been under surveillance for several months and wasn’t aware. And because of the people that I was living with in the home, and that was like the wake up moment for me, where I was like, I can’t keep doing this.

Like I wanna travel the world. I wanna see things. I wanna be somebody I don’t wanna be in fucking jail with these losers who are like living with a 17 year old. They’re all adults. Like, again, looking back on it as an adult now I’m like, those people were fucked and how I got into that situation and how they, they allowed me to be in that situation with them was also fucked.

So That was the turning point for me, where I was like, I can’t keep doing this anymore. I want, I wanna make something [01:02:00] of Cheyenne. I want, I want, I want someone to remember me for the things I do, not for the sketchy things that I was. And so I really hunkered down on school. I like finished my degree.

I got that, I got that high school diploma. And I was so proud to get it. It took me six years to get through high school, but Boyle street got me there. I was valedictorian in my class. And I’m proud of that. Like, I I’m, I’m emotional thinking about it because that’s what, that’s what got me to where I am today was being able to say, I want to see the world and I wanna give back to the world.

I’m done like, and so I just dedicated myself to wanting to always be in community. So the first couple of years after I graduated high school, I was in my, or like grave days. So I was still partying, pretty hard, still like doing lots of drugs and stuff. And then I had a couple opportunities to travel and that’s where I really saw myself start to grow into the person that I am today.

So I lived in Peru for six weeks. And then I [01:03:00] moved to Nicaragua. I lived there for four months. Did some volunteer projects, went back to Peru for another six week project. And it was those three trips that really like changed the focus of my. My life. I knew that I wanted to continue working in community.

I knew I wanted to be connected to my own culture. And how could I start that process? So I really think that my success comes from helping supportive people around me having a good network of humans who were willing to hold space for me and call me in when I needed to be called in. And just like, let me be Cheyenne, because Cheyenne is messy.

Cheyenne is emotional. Cheyenne is fun and vibrant and loud and obnoxious and kind and generous and loyal. I’m all of these things. And I need people to hold space for all of those things. And so that’s like, I think my success comes from having people supporting me through that and letting me make mistakes and giving me amazing opportunities, like being able to travel to those places and being my first person in my family to go to many of those places, [01:04:00] being the first person in my family and my entire family to get a university degree is like, That was massive for me.

So I’ve just been really blessed that folks see the good in me. They see they see stuff in me that I don’t always see in myself and they give me opportunities to continue to thrive as Cheyenne. And so that’s what I owe my success to. And, and what is success really? Right. Like, I don’t own a home.

I don’t own a car. I don’t have a credit card, you know, I’ve got decent credit. But like success to me is that I’m happy. For the most part, most days I’m happy. I have a family that loves me. I have a community that supports me. I have access to my culture and that’s success for me. I’m learning my language.

I’m learning to be I’m, I’m learning to find creativity in myself that I never thought I had before. And I’m learning to understand my disabilities and my trauma. And all of that to me is success. So [01:05:00] I’m still learning and I’m still growing and I’m still achieving. But I’m just grateful for where I’ve gone to in my life, because we didn’t even talk about all of the, like, you know, you, you, you have 34 years of crap to talk about it’s a lot.

But I’m, I’m just so I’m, I’m not, I’m not ashamed of my history. I’m not ashamed of Cheyenne’s past. I honor it, and I welcome talking about it because as much as it brings me pain to know that that little child was put into so many situations that wasn’t their fault. Look at them now, and they’re here and they’re thriving and they’re beautiful and they’re living and loving and I’m just grateful for that.

So yeah. 

De’Vannon: When you say you learn how to be, are you talking about like a drum type of thing? Bead bead work. Oh, bead. 

Cheyenne: Okay. Bead, bead. Yeah. Yeah. Bead. I don’t have any bead work beside me that I could show you, but yeah, bead, 

De’Vannon: beautiful. So Always crying. That’s okay. Let it out, babe. and, and like you were saying, you know, it’s not, it’s not your fault.

I was, [01:06:00] I was speaking with someone by the name of Naomi Reba for a show the other day, who I met on the, who I discovered on the discovery plus channel documentary called leaving hill song. And, you know, she was saying the same thing, you know, like the abuse that happens to us, isn’t our fault. And this is the, the advice that I’m going to give to people before I turn it over to you for a final word.

Just remember that is not your fault because sometimes I acquis in my mind. And I think about. The abuse, you know, the church has put up on me and I look back on it now, examining them through this set of eyes. And I’m like, how could I, sometimes I think, how could I have been such a fool? How could I have been such a sucker?

How could I, but you know, the, the, the council is that it wasn’t me. It’s shame on them for taking advantage of me, you know, shame on them for what they did. So I just want, wanna remind people, it’s so easy to beat ourselves up for what other people did to [01:07:00] us, but it’s, it’s not our fault. They should not have done it, you know, abuse, their power, taken advantage of people who were clearly weaker than them or naive, or just didn’t know, you know, bullying, hustling, whatever you want to call it.

So I speak opportunities to people. I speak positive changes. I speak new lives for all of you who want them. And I just declare that everything is going to be all right. So whatever it is you wanna say, take us home. 

Cheyenne: Yeah. And I would say just like continue making steps to heal what people have done to you.

Right. So it’s not our, our past, isn’t like we don’t have to internalize other people’s choices and decisions, but we also need to make steps to actually start healing from that step that happen to us. So sit with your elders, sit with your peers, support, sit with your therapist, your counselor, your psychologist and just like take time to find out what loving yourself means.

Because I think that’s where I’m at in my life is like, what does [01:08:00] Cheyenne need to feel? Happy and to feel like they’re safe. And so I’m still going through that process. I’m not I’m not coming to you today that I’m like, oh, perfect. And healed healing is long and it’s a process and it’s messy and I’m like still crying and from it, you know?

So just be patient with yourself, continue loving yourself. And. Yeah. Just like, remember that you’re a fucking badass, like you’re a badass and I’m a badass and Devon is a badass. Like we don’t need to take all that negative stuff that people tell us about ourselves. Like you’re not that shameful person.

You’re not any of that stuff that someone tells you, you are, you are what you wanna be. And I see the badassery in you. So and I’m just really grateful that you took time to like, listen to my story. I know it’s like hard to hear people talk about abuse or talk about drugs. But I’m just really proud of who I am today.

And I’m just grateful that people wanna hear that story, you know, 

De’Vannon: as you should be. I’m proud of, [01:09:00] I’m proud of you. I appreciate you. Thank you so much for your transparency. Know that this has healed people. Hi. Hi. 

Cheyenne: Thank you. .

De’Vannon: Thank you all so much for taking time to listen to the sex drugs in Jesus podcast. It really means everything to me. Look, if you love the show, you can find more information and resources at SexDrugsAndJesus.com or wherever you listen to your podcast. Feel free to reach out to me directly at DeVannon@SexDrugsAndJesus.com and on Twitter and Facebook as well.

My name is De’Vannon and it’s been wonderful being your host today and just remember that everything is gonna be right.

 

 

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