We had just boarded the airplane. My brother, sister and I were allowed to walk on the plane before everyone and we sat in the front row together. It was our first time flying and it was without our parents. I was a little nervous but grateful to be leaving everything behind. For the first time in my life the unknown was a welcomed gift. This was HUGE for me. Prior to this I was terrified of the unknown and avoided it at all cost.
I’m a person who lives in my head a lot – as I shared in an earlier post (spirit flower) I’m an over thinker. Due to the circumstances in my life – it was a necessity. So once we were buckled in our seats and the plane took off I sat alone with my thoughts for the next 3 hours. That wasn’t always a good thing but what else could I do? When things became unbearable at home I would sit on the floor of my bedroom and stare out the window. It was rectangular and it opened from right to left with cute pink gingham blinds covering it. I would dream about jumping out that window and hoped never to return. It wasn’t just dreaming – I would step-by-step think about where I would go and what I would do. I went so far as to practicing climbing and jumping out the window over and over.
I knew if I went to a friend’s house I would be sent home. My brain would spin as I tried to figure out how to leave without EVER having to go home. Every idea that popped in my brain always ended the same – all roads led back home. I contemplated calling the police and notifying them of the large amounts of drugs that always existed at my house. I was actually even open to the idea of living in a foster home – anywhere but my home. I wasn’t completely naïve – I knew things possibly could be the same or worse there too. Plus I didn’t know if I would be placed with my siblings. So between the consequences I’d face for running away and not being present to protect my brother and sister – I gave up on my dream. The fear of the unknown kept me from jumping out that window and firmly planted in my life of hell.
Now the 3 of us were headed to a faraway place where everything and everyone was unfamiliar . The idea of staying with family wasn’t appealing to me, but I had no say in the matter. It was the kind of situation that typically would stress me out because that meant I would be “on guard” the entire time. Constantly observing adults to figure out motives and creating new exit strategies in my mind. It was never ending. As I sat in my seat I replayed my last two weeks at home, which was how much time had passed since my junior high graduation. My thoughts led me back to the moment standing in the living room with my mom as we held each end of the belt.
As I looked into her stunned, confused eyes I could see something else I recognized – FEAR! I knew that feeling very well as I had been on the other side of our current situation many times. Did I have the courage to follow through on the threat I just made to her? If she hit me again – would I hit her back? To tell you the truth I had never thought about it before because I never knew it was an option. I was like a beaten animal – I always took my licks and then found a place to recover. That was my normal. Now I had just forced a situation that I hadn’t planned for and I was stuck. If I backed down now I knew it would be even worse for me – I thought oh my god what did I just do?
Luckily I didn’t have to find out.
She dropped the belt, took a step back and (what felt like forever) just looked at me. I was about to say something when she said “watch your brother and sister – I will be back later”. She left the house didn’t return until very late that night. If you are wondering where my dad was that’s a great question. He was working close to home that summer, but as (much as possible) stayed away. So for the next week my mom and I avoided each other and only spoke when necessary. It was clear she wasn’t over “beltgate” and held every bit of power she still had over me. I now had lengthy lists of chores to do everyday as well as care for my siblings. Additions would be made to the list all throughout the day too.
I did my best to act like having to do these chores didn’t bother me and tried to look cheerful doing it. It really pissed her off and she would find fault in my cleaning. Even that backfired on her as I happily re-cleaned everything she asked very quickly and thoroughly. After a week of this she snapped. One afternoon I was lying on my bed reading a book when she suddenly barged in. I was caught off guard and immediately panicked because I knew I was cornered in my room. What made it worse is that I could tell that she had been drinking, and by the looks of it a lot.
“You think you’re really smart don’t you?” “I know what you’re doing and it isn’t going to work”. I didn’t move. “You are stupid and that’s never going to change” “I’m so happy you are going to Texas so I don’t have to look at your ugly face everyday” “I wish you’d be gone longer but I’m going to enjoy not having you around”. I said “good, I’m glad I’m leaving too”. I could see anger increasing in her eyes and she took a step towards me and then stopped. She told me she wished she never would have had me as a daughter and few other cruel things and then left my room. I realized that this was all she had – this was the only thing she could do to me anymore (and she didn’t like it). I didn’t like what she had just done but was grateful she never touched me physically. In that moment I was happy to be leaving for Texas – no matter what waited for us there.
My final week at home we did not say one word to each other. My mom packed for my brother and sister, drove us to the airport, and checked us in at the counter. She said goodbye and gave tearful hugs to my brother and sister, but never said a word to me. We all sat at the gate waiting to board the plane and when our flight was called – she walked away…
The pilot suddenly announced we were getting ready to land and my heart skipped a beat. I looked at my brother and sister and saw nervous faces looking back at me. I decided I had to pretend I was confident and in control to help ease their fears. I told them everything would be okay and to smile because we were going on an adventure. I really don’t know what they were thinking in this moment, but I’m sure they were hoping I was right. As we exited the plane I tried to study my surroundings and memorize as much as I could – it was the first part of an escape plan that I hoped we would never need to use. Little did I know this really wouldn’t ever help us as we were an hour away from our destination.
We walked out of the gate past security and I looked for a family face that I had never seen before. As much as I was disappointed to be missing the summer with my friends – I realized I was relieved to be away from everything at home. I had prayed many times for things to change, and I didn’t know if it ever would happen. Nothing however could have prepared us for what was to come.