For the first week or so, I was hopeful, even cheerful. I felt secure in my family again. Then things started getting me down. Nobody had changed. If anything, they had gotten worse — I was allowed practically no contact with the outside world…no phone, someone next to me if I was online (which was only once, because I had some work to finish), and when we went to the store or library, I had to stay closer to mom than ever.
But time dragged slowly on, and I became disillusioned. I thought they would be happy I stayed. Instead, it was more like “finally you’re doing what you’re supposed to do”. Nothing changed.
I figured out how to switch the cords around to bypass the internet lock, so I could talk to Scottie at night. I physically hurt with how bad I missed him, and he was soooo afraid he’d never get to talk to me again, and that I would always believe my dad and that he had lost me forever. Talking to him at night again became once again the only way I stayed sane.
Waiting three years gave way to waiting as long as I could…to waiting until September. I could hardly stand the stress. There were days I would stand in front of the medicine cabinet and picture myself downing a bottle of ibuprofen or tylenol. The only thing that kept me from it was the thought of Scottie. I was beyond the point that I cared if suicide would send me to hell. I didn’t care much about anything, I basically existed. I did what I was supposed to, put on some kind of happy face (as much as I could…I think the days varied between grumpy and more grumpy), but I had given up trying to please my parents and almost given up on life itself.
Joe’s wedding rolled around. Relatives came to stay at our house, and of course they noticed the glaring absence of the groom. Dad had predetermined not to say anything unless someone asked, and when they did ask, he told them Joe had just decided to get a head start on life and had moved out or something. (I don’t remember exactly if that was what someone asked and dad confirmed, or if it’s what dad had said.) That really surprised me, because it was a bald-faced lie.
Life went on. I had decided to wait until September to leave. It was the light at the end of my tunnel. September was when Elle’s birthday was, and I had a birthday present for her that she had seen (accidentally), played with, and knew was hers. And wanted badly. I didn’t want to disappoint her. So I was going to wait until after her birthday to leave.
July 4th, we went to a real church for the first time in years. That night, dad called me into his office, and he and mom talked to me. (That is to say, mom was there, but dad talked to me.) He talked about why I should stay, all the “biblicalâ€ reasons, etc, then finally said it was my last chance: was I staying or leaving? (I didn’t know why he brought it up out of the blue because he made me promise to tell him if I was thinking of leaving again…then again, I didn’t tell him, either.)
I didn’t know which I should choose. (I didn’t even know why he was bringing it up again out of the blue.) “Last chanceâ€ sounded pretty ominous. But it still wasn’t past Elle’s birthday yet. I was silent. Running through my head were lines from a Cruxshadows song “Eye of the Stormâ€: “This is the moment of truth, at the point of no return…place faith in your convictions, as the boundaries start to blur.â€ I felt the words shape in my head, but I couldn’t say them. I was sitting on the floor, huddled up with my arms around my knees. I’m sure my silence was telling, but dad wanted to hear me condemn myself.
After about 20 minutes, I asked if I could use the bathroom. He let me, and mom also took a bathroom break, then we reconvened in his office. I was still silent. He said “Well?â€ I said “I’m afraid what you will do to me if I say.â€ I was, too. I was afraid he would bully me or something. He didn’t say anything to that though. Mom finally said something, I don’t remember what, and dad said with barely-controlled fury, “Well I feel like slapping her upside the head if she won’t answer.â€ That scared me even more. Somehow I forced out the words through numb lips: “I’m leaving.â€
It was silent a moment in the room. Then dad asked, “Just out of curiosity, why are you leaving?â€ I thought about it for a few minutes, trying to collect my thoughts enough to make a coherent reply, one they would understand. Finally I said, “I don’t know if you’ll believe me or not or if it makes sense or anything, but because if I love someone, I want to do things for them and show them love because *I* want to, not because you tell me to.â€ Mom said “Well, this shows you don’t have any love at all.â€
Things became a blur after that. Dad said something, I don’t remember what. I was supposed to go pack up my stuff, and be ready to leave in the morning when dad was supposed to leave for work. All the kids were already in bed. I went into my room, and Beth was on her bed. I sat next to her on the floor . “I can’t get to sleep,â€ she said. I awkwardly said “I don’t know how much sleep you will get tonight.â€ I hesitated, then said “I’m leaving.â€ I don’t know if I can ever forget the way she said “Why???â€ as she started to cry. I started to cry too and hugged her and she hugged me tight. I had no answer. I didn’t know what to say to her. What I said to dad wouldn’t be a good answer for her. I may have muttered “I have toâ€ or something, I don’t remember.
We were sitting there crying and hugging each other when dad came, I don’t remember if he knocked or anything but he came in and said Beth should leave the room.
I started packing. Dad came in at one point and gave me cash from my bank account, and had me sign a paper saying something to the effect that we didn’t owe each other any money. I don’t remember exactly what it said, but at the time it looked fine.
I asked him if they would give the blue kitty piggy bank to Elle on her birthday, and he was absolutely livid when he said to me “No, I won’t.” I don’t remember exactly what else he said…something to the effect that I didn’t deserve to give her anything, I was an awful person, etc. Eventually, though, he and mom went to bed.
Whenever I went out of my room, Ben or Eric followed me. I felt like a criminal. I thought to myself “the only real reason they would have to follow me around is to make sure I don’t kill myself tonightâ€. I think the reason they did was so I wouldn’t go try to talk to the other kids who were all in bed.
I copied a bunch of pictures off my computer for them to have, and packed. Ben and Eric loaded my stuff into the utility trailer as I finished each box. I think I was done packing around four am or something, but the pictures and stuff weren’t done until six. Eight was when dad was going to go. I sorta-slept on the floor of the computer room until the computer stuff was done, then on my bed. I got up when I was supposed to. Then dad hung around, and I don’t know what was the hang-up. I did gather some other stuff I had forgotten about, but finally Ben and I left around nine or so, and by then people were starting to get up, but dad told them all to stay in their rooms.
The last words from my dad were angry ones. He said “If you come back, you come back alone. Scottie has to be dead, and any kids you have have to be left somewhere else. You have to be repentant, and if you come back, things will be worse for you. But that’s the price you have to pay.” (I was thinking “Wow, worse…um yeah, I’m not coming back. I can’t imagine worse.”) I don’t remember anybody else who was in the room (mom, Eric, and Ben) saying goodbye. I don’t think Eric looked at me, and mom looked all solemn. Then Ben and I left.
It was a pretty quiet drive. At one point, Ben asked me, “So what made you decide going to hell was better than living with us?â€ I kind of shrugged and said “Nothingâ€. I was basically in lock-down mode…survive until it’s over. He said “I’m not going to give you up without a fight. I love you.â€ I didn’t understand the fighting part, since he had no choice whether I left or not, and I was already on my way out, but I said “I love you too,â€ and he said “No you don’t.â€
We got to the vet’s where I was going to board my cat. (Fortunately I had made a plan some weeks earlier, as to what I would do and where I would go and stuff.) I got that taken care of, then we stopped at a storage unit that was on the same road, and I got myself a unit. Ben unloaded my stuff into it. It was then that I realized I had left my diary. This was the diary that I had been keeping since May, after I told Scottie I was staying. That was kind of the straw that broke the camel’s back. I started kind of freaking out, asking Ben if he would bring it to me, or at least make sure it was burned or something. I was under no illusions that my parents wouldn’t read it given the chance.
Then we continued on to a motel that was on the same road, just a block or two down from the storage unit. They had a room that was just vacated that I could stay in, but we had to wait for them to change the sheets and stuff. It was awkward. He said “You’re more upset to lose your diary than you are your family?â€ I shook my head and said “No,â€ and that was it. I couldn’t explain to him about how I would feel completely stripped of privacy if our parents read my diary. He couldn’t understand that, because he had a better relationship with them than I did. He trusted them; I didn’t. (I didn’t trust him not to tell our parents something I said, but I knew he was at least honorable enough to destroy my diary.)
I got my stuff into the room after they finished, and said goodbye to Ben. I walked to Walmart, which was a block up the street, and bought a StraightTalk phone, some minutes, and activated it using a pay phone (boy am I ever glad they still keep those things around!!). I bought some food at McDonalds more because I thought I should eat than because I felt hungry, and wandered around Walmart semi-aimlessly, carrying a few things I needed. I called Scottie pretty much first thing after I got the phone working. Of course he was sooo happy to hear from me! I told him I had left. I don’t remember what he said or anything, only that I was sitting in Walmart (I found a bench), feeling small and alone, freaking out on the phone.
Eventually, I got back to my motel room, still on the phone. I didn’t want to hang up! I don’t remember what I did. I think I set up my computer and checked my email, only to find out my parents had sent out an email/facebook message to a bunch of my friends and family, telling them I had left, was on my way to Oklahoma with a bartender I didn’t know, I turned my back on God, etc. I was surprised and kind of angry; it felt like they were trying to get back at me. I’m pretty sure the reason they emailed everyone was so they could “take a stand” (as they had two years before when they cut off my friend and encouraged her parents to do the same, in hopes she would “come backâ€…they called it tough love), but it felt unnecessary to me.
Dad always went on about how if I left I could find support “out thereâ€ (hand-wave to the town out the window, meaning everyone else but us), so I had determined not to tell anyone, not to ask any favors, I was going to do this on my own. After the letter though, I thought “Well, all’s fair in love and war,â€ and figured anything was fair game.
Sometime later that day, Ben and Eric showed up with my diary and a couple other things I’d left. I thanked them, and they left.
I called my relatives to tell them I was OK, not on my way to Oklahoma, etc. I also posted it on facebook. My internet connection wasn’t very good in my motel room, so I pretty much spent the next few days watching movies. My friend found out I had moved out of my parents’, and reconnected with me (and loaned me movies). A few days later, I moved into my friend’s friend’s house.