Welcome to Little Red Survivor

The beauty of story is that it goes beyond
what you see and I see
and teaches us about dignity
About who we are
Where we have come from
And where we are going.

Who doesn’t have baggage to unpack? Whether it is from our family of origin, toxic religion, or someone we partnered with only to discover they were not who we thought they were. Life has plenty of ups and downs.

Welcome to Little Red Survivor

I am still every age that I have been. -Madeleine L'Engle

We talk about life here. No cover-ups—just our messy life stories, and they are all worth discussing. So grab your favorite drink, sit down, and swap stories with me.

I’ll go first.

Where I’m From

I’m from a little cabin on Whidbey Island, in Washington State, that my family called home despite no indoor plumbing. I’m from the scent of campfire smoke mingled with seaweed and salty air while I watched ferries and fed the gulls. I’m also from wondering what the world was like beyond the sound.

I’m from being belted for talking in church at age seven. I forgave my Daddy because he also did kind things for me, but this created fear of a bullying Father in heaven. It would take me years to trust God, and even today, I’m not sure I can trust the God that most Christians claim to believe in.

I’m from being homeschooled after sixth grade without any books. I am from never going to high school or having any teenage friends because of my parents’ choices to move and keep me out of school. I’m from learning to hide so people wouldn’t take my parents to jail for having four kids who were supposed to be in school. I’m from learning to lie to keep my parents safe.

I’m from being beaten for listening to the radio. I’m from sneak listening to the radio. I’m from memorizing every word of every song. I’m from trying to be a good girl who couldn’t stop dancing and rocking to music no matter how much she was beaten. I’m from driving fast and rocking out to music on the radio.

I’m from being the oldest sister trying to protect and herd my siblings into a better life. I’m from lonely college days when I didn’t know what to say on dates or how to pass math and science classes with my limited grade school education. I’m from dropping out of college and going Down Under to see the koalas.

I’m from never cracking an egg until I was thirty-five to making thousands of decorated cookies with royal icing. I’m from telling stories and baking cookies to bring smiles to children.

I’m from traveling through ten Canadian provinces and forty-eight, not very United States. I’m from getting locked out of the truck in the rain. I’m from making love in a thunderstorm. I’m from knowing the maker of the thunder and trusting that She can protect me.

Yes, I’m from calling God “She.” I’m from feeling the Spirit blow through my hair and soul — and knowing that She is not safe, but good.

I’m from going to church for fellowship, but I won’t hang around where there happens to be abuse or inequality.

I’m from discovering what narcissistic traits are to refusing to give my abusers any power over my life. I’m from writing dozens of articles to help others through narcissistic abuse at my website, Little Red Survivor.

Little Red symbolizes all who have been abused in the name of love.

I’m from being raised with purity culture and fundamentalist religion. I’m from marrying a gay man who loved me better than many straight men treat their wives.

I’m from deconstructing my religion and breaking up after 30 years of marriage to set my husband free to be himself (while continuing our friendship) because he is my best family.

When we know better, we do better. -Maya Angelou

I’m from realizing that we do not need the approval of others.

I am from owning my mistakes and finding my voice to discovering I like myself.

I’m from making art that has meaning for me.

I’m from having family members lie about me to finding true kindred spirits.

I’m from forgiving everyone who has ever harmed me — especially my parents. I’m from throwing my grief into the fire while I collect the ashes to rise.

I’m from listening to a friend who is hurting for hours until I know they are safe. I’m from celebrating differences of opinions and styles of living.

I’m from standing in solidarity with women, LGBTQ+ friends, people of color, refugees, immigrants, and outliers because I know the pain of not fitting in.

I'm from making the table bigger, so everybody has a place.

I’m from shouting “love wins” from the mountaintop and telling the world that we no longer have to be intimidated by the patriarchy's rules or the narcissist's bullying to belong.

I’m from telling my stories and ignoring the critics because the critics don’t count.

I’m from breaking the family rules to write my childhood memoir. I'm from preserving all the beautiful, messy stories and honoring the angels in my life.

I’m also from reading and writing historical fiction—because the truth lies not only in facts but also in the wonder of a well-told story.

I’m from snuggling with my cat on my bed under the fairy lights. I’m from listening to the rain on the roof until I fall asleep. I’m from enjoying mochas and stars and music even when I’m by myself—especially when I alone.

After thirty years of marriage, I’m from finding peace with being single. I’m from feeling good enough to be myself — wholly myself with no qualifiers because life is good — even in solitude—especially when you have a cat.

I’m from making my home in many places, from Washington to Michigan, to Connecticut, to Louisiana. I’m from carrying home within my heart.

I’m from currently living weird in Portland, Oregon.

I’m from drinking in the sunrise because the dawn brings us hope for each new day, reminding us that we can always start again and shine as bright or better than yesterday.

About My Publications—

Little Red Survivor Tips

Little Red Survivor Tips is FREE and will land in your inbox whenever I see related news stories about narcissistic or religious abuse. It’s an opportunity to unpack the damage and discuss how to survive and thrive. I often post blurbs on Friday to fortify our boundaries and remind us to celebrate our freedom as we go into the weekend.

(Just make sure you add this email address to your "trusted" list—otherwise, this email might end up in your spam folder.)

Little Red Memoir

Meet me at the place of honor
Where the past is not a dirty word
And memories–good and bad,
Can both be heard
Where the truth we welcome and lies we shun
With nothing between us, we can be one.

The sequel to Chasing Eden is finally coming, but I’m not ready to share it with just anyone yet. This is where you can get a sneak peek and share your thoughts with me.

Little Red Memoir is a PAID Subscription about writing memoirs, reading memoirs, and all that it involves, including how to handle difficult family members, how to make sense of the past, and the impact of sharing our stories. It will also include and discuss chapters from my memoir, including my current WIP.

As a subscriber to Little Red Survivor Memoir Edition, you’ll enjoy—

  • Access to a community with the ability to ask questions and discuss memoir writing and all it entails

  • Discussions about topics raised in memoir writing

  • Reviews of interesting memoirs

  • A more private setting where we can discuss survival techniques for writing and/or dealing with difficult people

  • Occasional previews and discussions about my current WIP

The Little Red Survivor Memoir subscription is $50.00 a year or $5 a month.

This is not meant to be a barrier—it’s simply the way authors get paid. If you’re in a tight place, but would love to join the discussion, please send me an email at LittleRedSurvivor@substack.com

You own everything that happened to you.
Tell your stories.
If people wanted you to write warmly about them,
they should have behaved better.
-Anne Lamott

I hope you enjoy my stories and find the inspiration to share your own messy stories.

Peace and freedom,

Cherilyn Christen Clough

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P.S. If you’d like to read the story of my childhood, you can find it here.

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Little Red symbolizes all who've been abused in the name of love


Author of Chasing Eden Memoir, writes Little Red Survivor about narcissistic and religious abuse. Still holding out for a hero… Oh oops, guess that’s me. Wah!