I never seriously contemplated running away as a child. I occasionally thought through escape plans and how to care for my siblings in the wilds if one day CPS came to take us and split us up or if my dad ever killed my mom, but I never really thought of running away for my own sake.
I did a lot of running away though. I left friends who couldn't love me the way I loved them, I remained silent when I should have spoken up, I was the good little church girl when all I wanted to be was a rebel, I prayed instead of going to the doctor, and I hid under my blankets when the shouting began.
Sometimes, though, you have to run away. There are things I probably could have done, spoken up when I disagreed with someone, done what I wanted with my hair, told one of my friends how I really felt about her, try to explain to my mother that she was being abused. Maybe I should have maybe I shouldn't have but it doesn't matter now.
I'm still struggling with running away. When to run, when to stand. It's hard to tell sometimes. My family is a near constant source of anxiety to me, while I'm lucky in that they didn't kick me out or get me committed that doesn't make their disapproval any easier to deal with, especially for a child who was trained to accept approval as the ultimate source of affirmation, and disapproval as a punishment. I wonder how much I owe them, how much staying in contact is even worth, or if they'll every really truly accept me for who I am not who they want me to be.
Something is unraveling inside me, years of pent up emotion and scarred over memories. Since I've moved out my parent's house (and it's only been two weeks) I have less fear of repercussions for expressing my opinions or feelings. With the freedom comes a deluge of buried feelings, bitterness and hurt and confusion. I'm only now realizing the depth of the impact fundamentalist Christianity and homeschooling within an abusive framework had on me, not to mention my genetic disposition for mental illness. Some days I feel irrevocably broken, like I'm walking around with fissures running the length of my being. Some days I feel fine. Sometimes I can't tell if its depression or old trauma or some toxic combination of the two. Sometimes I have great days and I eat Chow Mein from the grocery store for dinner and get recognized for my knowledge of Platonic Philosophy in class. Mostly I just live, because I'm allowed to to that now, without the terror or ecstasy of an afterlife overshadowing my mortal existence.
And I'm thankful. Thankful for myself, and for my school, and for Plato even if he's sort of a jerk and doesn't really understand life, and I'm thankful for my community because without those connections and those precious people I'd be lost. And I'm thankful for you, whoever you are, because if you're reading this you're a part of my journey too (I hope you don't mind) and you've helped me far more than you know.