Content Warning: Slight mention of alcoholism, abuse, OCD, and anxiety.
It has been four months since I ran away from home.
I think about that a lot, how the day I left I felt no remorse. I had run away before, off into the night hoping I’d go missing. But I’m older now, not as dramatic. This time I ran away by going to University. I did not tell my parents when I applied, I did not tell them when I was accepted, I didn’t let on that I was preparing to leave, I didn’t show them the loan paperwork. Their help would have been nice at any step of the way, but I knew they wouldn’t offer it. They wanted to keep me there, to lock me away in a ward, to prove that I could not make sound choices for myself and take my future away from me.
I told them as close to the day I was to leave as I could, and those few weeks nearly killed me. But I knew that if I could just get away from there, I’d survive. If I could just force myself to eat, try to keep it down, hide in my room, that I might get through it. I was so close to finally being free after years of failed attempts. My father tried to stop me, throwing a rock into the legal side of it all. He almost took it away from me, my only hope. And I am completely sure that had he succeeded, had he truly been that heartless, I would have died in that house. No matter how much time passes, I will never forgive him for what he did to me that day.
I got away, I was freed from those people and that house and all of the things that made waking up every day a nightmare. I’m a lot happier after I ran away, healthier than I have ever been. I’m working hard, seeing results, chasing my dreams. I’m doing all of the things they never thought I could.
So why, I wonder, why does it feel like I’m still running?
I’ve run away from a lot of things in life, and though I have run far away, I feel like they’re still chasing me. I ran away from delinquency, I ran away from high school, I ran away from someone I loved dearly, I ran away from the only place I had ever called home.
No matter how many footsteps I put behind me, I hear theirs approaching.
I didn’t realize how many things would chase me until they caught up.
My father was an alcoholic, so now when my roommate drinks responsibly, I fall into inner panic. The smell of it, the idea of it, terrifies me. Though he doesn’t abuse it, and he’s an adult he can do what he wishes, it still scares me.
My family was all short tempered, a bad mood meant a black eye. It meant hellfire, screaming, lashing out, holes in the wall. So when my roommate says he’s in a bad mood, I lock up. I know he won’t hurt me, I know he won’t lash out and scream, but I still fall into the fear.
My new dorm room reminds me of my old house. It’s worn, rusty, the carpet is frayed, sometimes things don’t work, it doesn’t get enough light, it’s musty, the windows are dirty in places I can’t clean, the walls are off white, the ceiling light is yellow. My old dorm room was industrial, concrete floors, titanium white walls, everything was something I could clean, something I had control of, something I could make nice. This room will never look nice no matter what I do. And though that may seem so silly to some, it is seriously a drain on me, being in a place that sits in similar hopeless disrepair as where I came from.
When my eyes snag on the frayed carpet, I am sent back for a moment to the frayed carpet in the kitchen of my old house, when I open the mirror in the bathroom and see the water damage, I remember the bathroom back there. The stove is unsightly in the same ways the old one was, the windows are dirty in the same way. I sit in here, feeling trapped. I used to be on the ninth floor, able to look out and see the world from my window. Now we face a brick wall, just like the bushes the window at my old house faced. The yellow ceiling light and off white walls give the room a sickly feel, just like the lighting in my old house.
I ran away from that house, but it has found me again.
My life here is wonderful, and I am thankful I am alive to be able to be here and live it. I just wish the ghosts of my past would stay back, haunting my memories and not my present. I wish I could be free of them, free of the anxieties the disrepair brings me, free of the fear of alcohol, free from fearing the moods of others that I can’t understand. I want to run away from it all again, but now I’m starting to see, that maybe running away isn’t the key.
I’ve been miserable since moving to this dorm two weeks ago. But I’m done with that. I’ve barely accomplished anything I needed to in that time, I’ve been stuck in such a slump. I finally couldn’t catch my breath anymore, lost the stamina I once held. I’ve done my running, all of it that I have the strength to. So now it’s time to try something else. I don’t have a choice. Because if I stay here panting, stagnate, all of that running will have been for nothing.
So instead of running, I’m going to walk. I’m going to glance to the side and look these things in the eyes that have worked so hard to chase me all the way here, and try to start a conversation. I need to understand these things, unpack them, so that maybe they’ll see that chasing isn’t such a good idea after all.
I have come to find that I am far too much of a demon myself to defeat my own, so for me, the way to truly be free, is to befriend and understand them. Because, as a demon, that’s the only thing I want, to be heard, understood, loved.
I ran away once, put my life in a matter of boxes and never looked back. Now I’m free of everything except me, so instead of running, I’m going to learn how to walk happily.
-Love Bulletproof –