Cindy Miles and Roger Moon

Recorded March 25, 2021 Archived March 23, 2021 50:10 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: ddv000585


One Small Step conversation partners Roger Moon [no age given] and Cindy Miles (58) discuss growth, perspective and self-acceptance.

Subject Log / Time Code

CM discusses her upbringing, getting married at 16 and the abuse she endured.
RM recalls his childhood growing up with various illnesses and ailments and how it impacted his self-worth.
CM discusses the kindness she found in her second marriage.
“I decided a couple of years ago that it was important to be vulnerable.”- RM
RM discusses how a friend’s death and a trip to China changed his perspective.
“Do you feel yourself judged more by men or women?”- RM to CM


  • Cindy Miles
  • Roger Moon

Recording Location

Virtual Recording

Partnership Type




StoryCorps uses Google Cloud Speech-to-Text and Natural Language API to provide machine-generated transcripts. Transcripts have not been checked for accuracy and may contain errors. Learn more about our FAQs through our Help Center or do not hesitate to get in touch with us if you have any questions.

00:03 So, my name is Cindy miles and I am 58. Today's date is Thursday, March 25th, 2021. I am in Wichita Kansas and I am having a conversation with Rodger and he is my LS recording partner.

00:27 I am Rodger. The date is March 25th, 1921. I am in Winfield, Kansas.

00:39 My partner is Cindy and I buy OSS departure Sunday.

00:50 2021.

00:58 What century?

01:04 Yes.

01:08 I am a 58 year-old woman that grew up in poverty and experienced a lot of trauma challenges and barriers as a youth. I came from parents who were married and divorced numerous times. I've been married twice, and have four grown children and two grown stepchildren.

01:24 I committed to escaping my childhood and achieving the goals for a better life for me. And my children. I am passionate about serving the community and inspiring others to pursue their goals and dreams believing, they can do anything.

01:49 Free hard-working, Kansas farm, boys. I knew early that. I was different Love by my parents. Sunday school teachers, and other family, and Community adults. I was told we're different and God loves us all. However, I heard Hellfire, and Damnation in our rule, conservative church, and community. And knew that I had to grow out of being a sissy bullied. And teased. I try not to be queer. Do I was certainly gender-fluid from the time. I was a toddler frightened and alone. I the bio Pierce just cut off.

02:59 So I don't have to tell my story in 5 minutes, but I was born in Norman, Oklahoma and I spent

03:12 My life until I was in Middle School early, middle school, 6th grade in Norman move to more. And when I was in seventh grade moved to Tulsa, where I spent many years growing up. I've been in Wichita about 20 years, but I am married. A gentleman when I was sixteen and he was 21 and we had four kids together. He was very abusive man, had alcohol and drug issues, and I managed to escape that relationship when I was 26, after being with him for ten years. And when I left him, I had a, a small baby two-year-old, a four year old and a six-year-old. And I

03:57 Clean hotel rooms because I was going to college and I can no longer go to college, cuz I had to take care of my kids. And I, it's been many years of my life being evicted. Addicted, abuse. Sorry. I'm kind of nervous. And

04:17 Be either by step father's, or had been abducted and raped. And I had been involved in child, pronography and I had been just abused in a number of different ways. And so I grew up watching some of the other things that happened. My both, my parents were divorced, in my mother had been remarried five different times. And so she was in and out of relationships, and I decided at the age of 26, when I decided I was worth more than the way that I was being treated to walk away from that abusive relationship to escape, which is one of the scariest ports of my life because I didn't know if this man would kill me in the process of escape and I didn't know how I would survive. But fortunately I was able to meet a wonderful man that we just celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary and he took on me and my four children and he had twin boys of his own that way.

05:17 4 8 at the time and

05:21 We were able to build a good life together. I was able to with his support Lauren that I was valuable and some way and because I didn't have much support growing up. I was

05:37 Pretty committed to making a difference for other people to, for trying to show them. That there was hope I managed to finish college, not only a associate's degree, but a bachelor's degree, and a master's degree. And I ran as far as I could from all the abuse and, you know, being a victim that I had been for so many years of my life. And so, I stay very involved in the community. I serve on a lot of nonprofit boards. My work is the CEO of the Kansas nonprofit chamber. Helping nonprofit organizations and just work to try to make the world a better place. That's what I, that's what I'm passionate about, what I thrive to do. And, despite all that.

06:22 Almost 10 year about 10 years ago. My one of my kids actually, several of my kids got involved with drugs and my youngest daughter. Baby 15 month old baby died of a head injury that was a result of child abuse. And I, as much as I had run away from all the life that I had left behind. I felt myself starting all over again to try to survive by and found myself in a victim role again, and I threw myself into in working to combat child abuse and neglect and

06:59 Today, like I said, I just commit myself everyday to try to make a different life or other people try to inspire them to do what they can do and be who they want to be and and not allow themselves to spend their entire lives in poverty or as victims or or anything like that. It's like 5 minutes up.

07:23 I got about 30 seconds.

07:27 But I guess that's in 5 minutes by my life story.

07:42 I just said I was really blessed in growing up. My parents had not married till they were 40 and 32 head. Head careers. Take care of their parents kind of escaped. Their parents were very dominating and finally were able to focus on family. So we were raised with great love and care and blessings. I was born with some great, just listen to all difficulties. And so my mother and I almost died in childbirth and then he'll of Digestive and, and different kinds of physical problems. Disability, disability spy with my parents were always, just like Rodger everybody. It's okay. Everybody special and I always have since there is a

08:40 I had an older brother who is mr. Perfect and healthy and big, and you don't have to be your older brother. You're okay. Where he's born special and it's all right, and I and I and I heard that and I believe that at the same time there's a sense of of argument in that and I would have to say that I re-up without a sense of self-worth. Except for, for what I did my mother, wait we lived on a farm. I never knew what it was like to to be hungry or are really in poverty. I didn't know how truly blessed I was even though. It was a real blessing. But which High School field and a very, very early

09:40 Respect me. If I fear, I was exposed to the Arts by my mother and, and we're in the midst of the farm family and farm life and Rural Community. Christian Church. What was the center of the communities where theater came into a nobody ever figured out? And I was really a real duck circle, e, and end, and then really being non-binary, just as a small child. And I feel like I've been more successful if I were a girl, but I really want to be a boy. I wish I was a queer, duck and Sissy, and had to really hide that and deal with that. I understand that I was bisexual that certainly, 60 years ago was also accepted at all.

10:40 I went to college State Theater speech English to be a teacher. I really want to be an actor, but there was no Avenue. I love, I love teaching teacher. My my first year. I had a student who was a junior who was a wonderful young woman that I asked her. She graduated from high school, my second year and went to Community College nearby. We started dating and got married. And so we've been married for forty almost 48 years now.

11:17 After our first child was born, and I realized that I was not changing in my being attracted to men any more than a straight man stops being attracted to women just because they're married or Wilmington,, man. I'm sure other men. I just had to confront that it was very difficult anxiety. A lot of depression on my way out of that became suicidal.

11:50 With my wife and family, we had four children. Professionally, we both work for flashlight for a few years and our marriage almost was dissolving. So a method of teaching, begin to teach on the Collegiate level and I did that for 30 over 30 years and retired years ago.

12:16 And really came out in the last few years to say, this is who I am and to find where is beyond my work.

12:46 My first primary politics would be going to movies and seeing the old movie tone news with President Eisenhower and the car seat and a Korean War. As a small child. My parents were Republicans, but my mother was a passionate follower of Eleanor Roosevelt and was very strong, liberated woman who got my parents, and they're building and they didn't talk about

13:33 General laborer, I think voted Republican Shirley were conservative in their worldviews as far as believing that they needed to take responsibility for themselves and that we had a community need to be responsible for each other. But my father, never talked about what he thought or felt very much. They just acted. So there should be my first memories.

14:11 So, I guess what? Early ass memory of politics. And I can, I can remember.

14:20 The talk about John F, Kennedy and, and some of the, the great stuff that he was doing, you know, other than understanding that he was, he was a president, probably didn't understand much. And, you know, memories after that really were around. Remembering my grandfather. My mother's father, going around all the time saying to have Reagan in my pocket. I'm Reagan in my pocket and I didn't really understand like what that meant, but

14:54 Politics wasn't discussed a lot in any is environments. I guess that that I grew up in so

15:06 I wandered around. Probably pretty confused for a number of years, not really caring too much one way or the other about politics.

15:37 So, probably the kindest person in my life has been my second husband, because after I went through what I went through, I always struggle. I was an oldest child of two younger siblings. So I was always expected to take on a lot of responsibility. And I always felt like I couldn't depend on really anybody because my parents were divorced. My dad wasn't in my life, a lot. My both, my parents were married and divorced number of times. And so I met this this man, that that I've been married to, and

16:23 He was willing to take care of me, and he was willing to try to train me to.

16:30 Put some trust in him and to let him do things for me and he's just been willing to support whatever dreams. I had whatever things I wanted to pursue and so he's most definitely I think the kindest person that that I've had in my life.

17:05 I think as far as emotional support.

17:11 Just kindness emotional support. It would be my mother. Who was

17:19 Always there for me. She died when I was 24, but she was just everything I could possibly imagine wanting a mama and her kindness that that's that's difficult to balance with Allison. Who is who has, we've been together 48 years and she is as unbelievably kind to everyone as objectively as she was as a sixteen-year-old junior in high school. When I watched her with all of her friends and wouldn't take sides, but taking care of everyone in her, and her are passable and unending kindness. So of those 24 years and next to the 48 years, Alison, twin.

18:19 It's at the same time. She is a strong woman. She's not emotionally very open. It's just it's action.

19:08 Catholic.

19:13 So I guess I have a Natural Curiosity about people. I've I love people and I love to meet new people, which is kind of surprising for myself because of what I went through when I was young. I really was a real introvert and still am very much, an introvert, you know, kind of afraid of people, but curious about people. And so anytime I have an opportunity to meet somebody and or have a an in-depth conversation, an intellectual conversation and learn about other people and what drives them and you know, what it what their stories are. I take advantage of that. So I thought that this interview today would give me that opportunity.

20:09 I have loved storycorps and listening to what I listen to NPR much time on radio pain and I just love the sense of connection between people that I hear a lot of people and being around people and sharing and I just decided years ago, that it was so important to be vulnerable and that I couldn't share the highs and less able to share the load after this last year of a seen. So few people and then beating people with masks on

20:56 And having so little ability to read connect with people up when I heard. This is my gosh. Just sit and get to really know somebody else to share.

21:27 I have a question Cindy. Yes. How after that experience growing up in those ten years. Did you find the day of the competition yourself your own Worth to be able to to to make those to make that change?

21:51 So, I think much of that Rodger.

21:56 Comes back to my children, and because of the experiences that I had growing up, you do being involved in child, pronography, you're being abducted and raped or being molested are just being abused. When I had my kids. I felt like my kids deserve better than that. And that I was committed to making sure that my children didn't have to grow up the way that I grew up and that initially drove me to not only Escape an abusive relationship, and it was very tough to escape.

22:34 And I escaped a couple of times in the first time. I had this, I spent months packing up, my stuff. I was in a small town. I didn't have a car and I spent months packing up my stuff. I was pregnant and I had it. And I had a small child and planning my Escape. So this guy wouldn't kill me. And then I eventually the end of a year. So got back together with him and we had two more kids. And, and I found myself trying to figure out how I can escape that second time. And, you know, I found that pfas protection-from-abuse orders are worthless cuz at the time, the police get there, you know, and he's got a gun to your head or or to my head or he's choking me, or he's doing whatever that he's gone. By the time that the police can get there. And I, you know, I could be dead, but just my kids seeing that stuff.

23:35 It really drove me to build a better life for them. So I am was very involved in their lives and like my own parents. You know, what? I we were, I was a scout mother and I help with cheerleading and I coach soccer. And and I was at every school activity and end was engaged and the kids school and really, I don't know that.

24:02 I could have done that without my kids. I don't know what that point time. I was so beat down by the time. I was 26 years old. I don't know that I could have done it without my kids and I had tried to commit suicide, a couple of times over the years. I got involved in drugs to, for a for a. Of time just to try to deal with all the depression and all the the trauma and that didn't take me anywhere.

24:28 Be I'm grateful for my kids because they, They carried me through that that drive to make something different from for them.

24:38 I think I hear that it was because you deserve to feel like you deserve better. So, yes, your focus to them. That's all about them and helping others. Yes.

24:54 At and I understand how much helping others makes a person feel better. Yes, but that doesn't necessarily translate into finding once a worse, except for, in helping others to admit that. It's probably why I spent a lot of time helping others, and because that's where I find my own value is in helping others. If I'm not doing that work. I can't say that. I don't still struggle with

25:37 You know, where whether or not, I'm I'm a valuable person. I don't know that with some of the things that I've been through what I've been through, extensive therapy to try to recover from some of that stuff. I'm not sure that you ever truly recover, 100%, I don't know.

26:03 Maybe the scars we carry. Help us be stronger.

26:08 Possibly.

26:12 So I am, I guess I'm curious about how.

26:17 You talked about a point in time in your life, when you felt like that, you had to kind of, I guess admit to yourself, who you were and or admit to others.

26:33 I mean.

26:35 How did that you're still married? Yes. Yes, November. So what brought you really? What brought you to that point of having?

26:51 I feel like that, that's what you needed to do.

26:56 After a lifetime of finding my value by helping others, but a find my value by the students, I taught. And by trying to raise my children with Carol off and be a good father, and a good husband and all of those things.

27:21 It was really, I guess I would have to say the death of the suicide of a lifetime long friend since grade school credible musical director, and I was teaching theater and and we frequently collaborated, she retired and moved back to Winfield and cuz I was teaching to Southwestern College and is the favorite collaborator of my life.

27:51 Besides my wife and she was brilliant, genius, and I committed suicide just her.

28:03 She couldn't find her own worst Beyond her work had when she was not able to to do for work. That was it. And I really struggled a lot for a year and during that said, I've got to do something to save myself. And so I took a sabbatical and I went to China for 4 months and then hook up my television and didn't hook up my radio and just and I went by myself to a sister University, high up in the mountains in China and

28:43 And love the people in the food and experience that rubbish. And just kind of start a new life by myself reading. And I trying to learn to live with myself because I observed how much it was when she did not have the strength to not have the chance to go out and work with other people.

29:06 That there's no point to life.

29:09 And I've had so many older friends that I've seen them age. I realized that we die alone.

29:20 Death of comply, baby. I'm bedridden we become I waiting for a family. Come. See us. I don't learn to live for others live for

29:35 Well, I can do for others and find Value in life.

29:41 With myself. I'm going to be in deep trouble.

29:48 And went off and tell my love, the people of China and I'll learn to live with myself in North extent. I came back and I've been very involved in the church and had a brilliant and told her that it was crazy that in China that I found myself a witness.

30:20 I talked about going to be a Christian more frequently in China than I did that I ever had my life because you would ask what that meant and there's a misconception.

30:46 She came over and she was talking. She said, have you ever thought about him being a preacher? Yes. I thought about us a child. I want to be a preacher teacher or after my mother explained that they were really all three kind of like.

31:09 Because you had to as a teacher, you had to really care about help others and at the live life for others, and they had to act like you like all your students, just as much as everybody else. There is, no, there is no place for anyone who is not straight. I couldn't be honest. And I had to hide that within the church and cell.

31:48 And nothing I can do that, and

31:55 She said well, would you preach some Sunday?

31:59 And I just take a deep breath. My said I, yes, I will but I don't think I can do it without coming out.

32:08 And so, that's six minutes later. She asked me to preach. And I said yes, and then she gave me some options and the subject.

32:19 And I said, I actually in the sermon that I had the courage to be myself. I also read a lot of brene brown.

32:36 An ability in about being yourself.

32:42 Forget that I just have to be myself. So nothing like coming out in the pulpit, and my children were all there and they all new proprietary one of my children and I don't know how you eat. You don't understand. It's one thing. It's another thing to be ashamed because

33:14 I'm an alcoholic.

33:16 And that's who I am and not what I

33:19 What I do. And you do understand that maybe I do.

33:28 And that Shane and open up to my cat has become in fact, in the last 4 years to become.

33:46 Declare itself to be reconciling congregation. And

33:52 A lot of you have come out to me and your pastor and it's all it's all opened up in the community and I work with school kids and it was really coronavirus 68 years old. I am and

34:20 Alexander stopped growing process.

34:26 So, do you struggle with feeling like you fit in?

34:31 No.

34:36 Now, I just I I am who I am and there's four years. I've done a lot of research to come out to me like, it was like, should I be more open and the research 20 years ago that I read said.

34:59 I just want to know that they're heard, it doesn't matter who you are and that maybe make them feel uncomfortable or we changed.

35:11 So if I ever had assumed safe.

35:15 Moon, really, really, really really

35:20 Understanding is like, are you straight or just part of me is one part of me and it's irrelevant to my teaching and it's irrelevant to try to ignore the fact that I was fearful. But of course that was part of it, too.

35:51 So I do, I feel like I am who I am.

36:01 Be okay with being a never quite feeling. Like,

36:11 I'm like other people, like, like I fit in like I'm accepted, you know, imposter syndrome, you know, I don't know if I'll ever feel like that. I fit in. I spent years hiding, the things that I had gone through just because I was fearful of people judging me thinking that I'm less than because I've had these experiences. And, you know, what kind of person am I, and, and trying to be normal and never really being

36:54 Normal, whatever. Normal is a setting on the washing machine.

36:59 Yeah.

37:03 I don't know what normal is, but the world we live in. Feels like it's really changing. I hope so. It is such a way that people that being open vulnerable. I think it's specially for women. It's more and more accepted. You don't have that much from men still.

37:40 Yeah. Yeah, I spend a lot of my life trying to prove. Probably two others that I'm that I'm good enough and it and it does it.

37:51 It doesn't matter how hard I work it. I perceive that people just don't ever think that I'm quite good enough and it's a, it's an interesting place to be, I guess. And yet, I

38:09 Have done so much, but it's never, it's never.

38:16 Quite enough. And there's things that I eat. I just I ran for County Commission last year and I and I

38:26 Although people would agree that I was the most qualified candidate. I didn't win the position. In this year. I'm running for city council, which is the position that I initially was going to run for. I just don't there was somebody that needed to be out of office that had been serving here in Sedgwick County in the commission that I felt like I'd stand up and run against cuz I'm opposed to the dirty politics and then

38:53 Tied to that my city councilor, that represented my district was tied up in this.

39:01 This time big controversy and step down. So then they just went through an appointment process to appoint somebody and yeah, I'm a republican but my party doesn't really

39:16 Well, they claim I'm not conservative enough. I guess. I'm not really sure. It's cut. It's really kind of lies that are told but I should have. I felt like I should have received this appointment for city council last week. And instead somebody else received it that people are asking why because they this person has hardly any qualifications that I've worked really hard for a number of years to get the qualifications and experience for this position and

39:46 And it will hit me really hard because I thought cash, I worked really hard and and I preached other people that working really hard. You can achieve whatever you want and then and then I find myself feeling and

40:01 You feel more judged by men or women?

40:10 Are, you know?

40:12 I don't know. I don't have, it's hard for me to have close relationships with women. So.

40:21 That's a good question. I don't know.

40:27 My sister so much of a male-dominated world still in so many ways. I mean, the top down the 40 of violence and

40:37 Retaliation in victimhood.

40:41 Running away and having more blank than everybody else does. I mean, that's all of that so much tied to our. Yes, and the fact that you have broken through that story. You've Rewritten your story.

41:01 Is really beautiful Sunday.

41:04 Thank you.

41:09 I don't know. I just try to be a good person. I'm just trying to live my life as a good person.

41:15 And to be enough.

41:18 And to be enough, yes.

41:22 And that's, I think that's just

41:27 So important, as your face, been part of your one of your spiritual background in Assembly of God, a Pentecostal Church, which is a very conservative Church. It, which is

41:47 Ironic that I'm Accused by so many Republicans that don't know. Me is not being conservative enough because I've been so often involve.

42:02 In Assembly of God Church.

42:04 But there's things, for instance. I can't align with my, my face. My face is strong, but I can't align with my faith in regards to things. Like, I have, I have a lot of friends that aren't straight as wide a friend's, you know, and I love them. Accept them for who they are. And that's not generally accepted in the Republican party, but yet, you know, because I'm very conservative, and I'm, I'm Proline pro life and a new, my husband, my own guns and you know, we believe in small government has so many things that I can't seem to step away from the Republican party, because those are the things that I believe in. But yet, I'm so disappointed.

42:56 In the party because these are supposed to be conservative Christian people and yet, especially following up with all the issues. Because I'm not, I wasn't wasn't not a trump supporter, and I caught a lot of flak for that because I felt like that my face tells me that I should worship God. And that some people had started worshipping Trump in just reminded me of a false idol, you know, somebody that like our party is not about

43:31 Who is president, if this about conservative values and

43:38 So I that's been a real struggle with me as well because not that I don't think Trump did some good things, but he didn't. He's not a leader and he doesn't reflect a christ-like values that I was raised to believe him or off. And on, I guess I was raised for even or did I do believe in?

44:04 Not a Texas, Republican background us was mine and it's hard work and that's how you make a difference. And you don't us for somebody else to take care of you and and you take care of yourself and your neighbors. And I'm so much of my values for my workout.

44:22 I I believe I can't imagine abortion but I can't imagine making the choice for a woman for somebody else. I just I can't I can't make that choice for someone else and

44:40 Finally had to change my.

44:45 My posture be back. I did just this last year, because just re-register because I I narrowly that the mushrooms for May the Republican party and become really saying it was for Christian values and pro-life. I realize since they was really about white domination.

45:10 But that was really, the underlined unspoken that the fear of, of the

45:19 Ultra, white the white domination being lost two women, two color to was really the subtext of everything. And and so I just said hi.

45:40 I got it. I got to stand up against that.

45:45 But episode so for me it as a retired person is like, how can I do if my social skills, just blows me away?

46:12 I love doing that work. It's why I'm so passionate about and I helped I launched an organization in 2015, called the incubator for nonprofits of Kansas to help nonprofit startups because there was a gap there until I get to work often with people who want to start a nonprofit organization that they want to go out and do Grassroots work 2 to change the world. Then I get to help facilitate taking them through that process of how to create a successful nonprofit organization. And how do the legal paperwork and how to build a board and how to create the right by law. What a board meeting should look like that. Then I get to watch them go out and do the great work that they do. And it's it's fantastic to watch them go out and and make a difference in the world impact lives.

47:03 What better of a job could somebody hack?

47:07 In my opinion, a long time to get there to where I figure it out like this is what

47:15 God directed me to do. I felt like he just opened doors. I don't know how I landed here. My Master's is an inter international business. And yet, I'm the CEO of the nonprofit organization that helps other nonprofit organization. And what's the name of it again?

47:35 The ward organization that I work for now, as a Kansas nonprofit chamber.

47:42 I just said, I think it's incredibly beautiful. But I think the real Point here is that you are enough.

47:51 I try. Thank you. That's very fine for you. What you do, what you are, are connected. Of course, but whether you make the city commission Council, come to believe that deeply upset down. Yes. Yes.

48:32 I try to remind myself of that.

48:36 All right. Now, working for two nonprofits here in the size of church, and it's in town, and it's exhausting, but so incredibly beneficial. Yes, beautiful in our lives, to help others and

48:57 Yeah, and what are those nonprofits with the Legacy Foundation? A program to use theater in the public schools? Develop social emotional health, good restore the old have Fox Theater in Winfield as a Performing Arts Center downtown. We don't have a major venue in town and still working right now to put that on the national register of historic theaters. And then to add to raise the money to be able to restore it and make it a central, a cultural Hub of the community.

49:56 Thank you for the chance to meet you Sunday.

50:02 Station. Appreciate you sharing.