Five years ago today, I declared my independence. I’d had enough of the sheltering and smothering and abuse from my folks. Leaving was the only way to keep my sanity.
“So what are you going to do? This is your last chance,” I was told. I was terrified. I was afraid that something very bad would happen if I said I was leaving (would he hit me?); I was afraid I would take my life if I stayed. After half an hour, my female begetter asked my male begetter in regards to me, “What are you going to do?”
“I’m gonna knock her block off if she doesn’t say anything soon,” was the response. There was the fear of the known, and the fear of the unknown, but in a small voice I said, “I’m going.” It was the last spark of independence left in me, after 23.5 years of trying to tamp it out. They had almost succeeded, but I was stronger: stronger than they knew; stronger than I knew.
I really thought there would be some blow up of violence or something, but they actually took it better than I thought they would. Calmly, I was asked, “Just curious…why do you want to go?”
I ran through the thousands of reasons in my head that I couldn’t say, and landed on one: “If I love someone, I want to do things for them because I want to, not because I’m told to.” I wanted my freedom.
They cleared my bank account and gave me the balance in cash (making me sign a piece of paper saying they didn’t owe me any more money), and the next morning my brother drove me away from that house. I started my new life in a cheap motel room with a couple hundred dollars in my pocket and all my things safely in a storage unit. I was in a daze. It was the first time in my life that I was in charge. I owned my life and myself for the first time ever. It was a heady feeling, but I was also in a daze: my freedom had cost me many things. It cost me
- my 11 younger siblings (half of whom I helped raise)
- my parents (not that they were that great)
- the only life I had ever known
But I gained so much more: the chance to find myself, to make my own decisions, and make my own path in the world.
Freedom is NOT free, but it sure as hell is worth fighting for.