Freedom, Part 1

On April 26th, 2015, I knew I was going to run away from home.

That weekend, I sneaked off to a retreat for my online support group. I knew I was going to be in trouble once I got back home, but something in me told me I needed to take the risk and go anyway.

It was at that retreat that I met my (now) therapists. On the last day of the retreat, I received a card from them, which I still carry with me every day.

You are so brave and courageous to come to this year’s retreat. You are deserving of a healthy, safe life. We are here to support you and believe in you. You are stronger than you believe.

Those words stuck with me, not only on that day, but throughout the following two and half months. As soon as I came home from the retreat, I started planning. I had my money spread across several bank accounts so I could hoard it without my mother finding out. I started selling things I didn’t really need (electronics, sneakers, books) online to make extra money.

I checked Craigslist every day looking for apartments and rooms for rent. I knew I needed to go where those therapists were – they were willing to help me, I just needed to get out. Several times, I thought my plans were not going to work out. No one wanted to rent to a person with no job in the area and no references.

Despite all of the ‘no’s, I kept looking. I knew this was something I could not give up on. I knew that I could not make it living there much longer. I put in my two weeks notice at work before I even secured a place to live. I told my family I was on vacation so they didn’t know I quit. I set up a fake post of my Facebook page that said I was accepted into an internship for school and that I would have to travel for a few weeks. I knew my family stalked my Facebook, so I made it public so my mother would see it. All of my friends were in on it, and posted supportive comments to make it appear legitimate. I had everything set but a place to live.

At the last minute, I found someone who was still willing to rent to me despite my situation. I sent the first month’s rent and security through a wire transfer because I couldn’t risk leaving my house anymore. That is how desperate I was.

Over the next few days, I was full of anxiety and doubt. I didn’t think I could do it. I was so scared to leave, and so scared to be somewhere new. I was also scared of how I was actually going to be able to get out safely. Very few people knew of my plans. My best friend, who was essentially my getaway driver, was the only person that knew exactly where I was going. I couldn’t risk telling people and tipping off my family. I had my online friends supporting me through the entire process, keeping me focused and helping me stay calm until the morning I finally did it.

On July 10th, 2015, before dawn, I woke up, cleaned myself up, got dressed, swallowed a few Xanax, grabbed my two sport bags of clothes, shoes and other essentials, and my computer, and I ran out the door. My father was there, waiting, as he heard me wake up early and wondered what was going on. He tried to question me but I did not want to get tied into anything, so I quickly told him I had an internship and went out the door.

That was the last time I would ever see or speak to my father again.

My friend was parked around the corner, in order to maintain his own safety in this unpredictable situation. I threw my bags in the back seat of his car and we drove away. My heart was beating so fast, my mind was racing, and I was nauseated. To add to the chaos, my friend had a flat tire. Not even 15 minutes into the trip, and we had to stop and find a shop to get the tire fixed.

As if I wasn’t anxious enough, I had to sit and wait for over an hour as they replaced his tire, watching the news on TV, continuously checking my phone to make sure none of them were trying to reach me. It seemed like forever, but we finally got back on the road and on the way to my new home.

Once we got into town, we stopped at a store so I could buy a few large items I couldn’t bring from home (a hamper, storage containers, bedding, hangers). With the car now packed with my only possessions, we drove to my new home. We were a few hours later than scheduled, but unscathed nonetheless.

July 10th, 2015, turned out to be the longest morning I’ve ever had. But it’s also the day I found my freedom.

Now I’m like him

As I’m dealing with this throbbing headache (caused by my own doing), I keep wondering how my brother felt after his “incident”.

About 15 or so years ago, my brother had what I consider to be an emotional breakdown. He locked himself in the bathroom, crying uncontrollably and bashing his head against the wall for what seemed like hours.

I remember sitting in the living room, and for the first time, really seeing and understanding the pain my brother was in. The pain he could never verbalize, because he was never very good at verbalizing much anyway. The pain we were never allowed to show the world.

I was used to the pain. But up until that point, I assumed my brother just handled our torture in a different way. He never seemed bothered by it, at least not in very outward ways that I could recognize (keep in mind, I was just a young teenager at the time). But here he was, in very obvious pain.

Once he came out of the bathroom, bruised and bloody, life just continued as if the entire incident never happened. Move along now, nothing to see here. Looking back at it now, I see how fucking bizarre it was. Your son just locked himself up in the bathroom and gave himself significant head injuries and a concussion, and you go back to watching television and getting ready for dinner, like it was just a normal day.

I wish I knew how they explained the very obvious injuries to my brother’s face. I’m sure, whatever it was, it wasn’t the truth. That would tarnish my mother’s “mother-of-the-year” image. But how did no one wonder what the fuck was going on?

Of course now, I feel like I channeled that same pain when I continually banged my head yesterday. The only difference was that I chose the table instead of the wall, and I didn’t do it hard enough to bleed. The emotion behind it was surely the same. 

And now I’m telling myself that I’m just like him. Can’t say out loud what’s going on, so just bang the noise away. 

What a fucked up family.