“I’m running away” I announce to my mother who’s kneeling down on the bathroom floor washing my little brother’s hair. I had been given a time out and was marinating in the injustice of it all when I marched up to her, drew myself to my full 6 year-old height and told her of my intention to leave and never come back.
“Perfect,” she says, “which suitcase would like me to pack for you?”
Sheer terror and I haven’t felt the urge to leave since then.
Yet recently, I’ve been feeling this incredibly strong pull to be anywhere but here and, perhaps, anyone but me.
This year hasn’t exactly gone the way I planned. In fact, if I could go back in time and talk to the me who existed in the beginning of this year, the one standing on the doorstep of independence, I’d say “don’t get your hopes up kid, in fact, it’s better if you don’t even ring the doorbell.”
But how do you tell the hopeful, fresh out of high school little girl that she’s about the walk into a house of abuse and intense loneliness? That she’s going to lose so many friends and that just when she thinks she’s found where she’s meant to be and the people she’s meant to spend time with she’s going to have to leave them too? This girl has just had her heart broken, she’s just gone through hell to get to a point where she truly believes that everything will be better only to be told that nothing gets better, nothing gets fixed, nothing feels okay.
Nothing feels okay.
18 years old, standing in a crowd of people who feel and think less than me, with my heart and pride smashed like a beer bottle on the floor, only to have it taped back up and thrown against a wall, just so it can be stood on almost a year later. Lying under a tree, surrounded by people who think and feel less, cradling my shredded soul with what I have left. I wish someone had told beer bottle girl to watch out for the liars and the name-callers, the crazies and the manipulators, the friends who make her feel worthless and the boys who refuse to make eye contact even when she’s a kiss away. She could have been told that if she carries on believing too much in people she would eventually find herself alone with only a tree to cling to in the world, trees don’t hurt like people do.
Tree girl got on a bus yesterday. Unfortunately the furthest it would take her was Monte Casino and back but the thought of catching the next flight out of her circumstances and away from her problems was the most hopeful she felt in a while. But how do you tell the girl who’s about to step onto a plane away from all her problems that she’s about to go somewhere that’s exactly the same as the house she got away from? How do you tell the girl with the crooked soul, the crippled heart and the constantly blind optimism that wherever she goes she’s going to get hurt?
You can’t. She has to figure it out for herself.
“Which suitcase would you like me to pack for you?”
I don’t care. Just stop this feeling.
I wrote this a few hours ago. I was mad at my cousin for cancelling our plans for the umpteenth time and feeling deeply melodramatic about the entire 1AM tree debacle. My mom came in to ask about dinner, read my post over my shoulder, saw my puffy eyes and just held me. She stroked my hair, called me sweetheart and held me like I was, in fact, 6 years old and had just been called “ugly” on the playground.
Apparently when I actually got into the adult world I was under the impression that it was something I’d have to face by myself. I’m too independent and hard-headed for my own good. Sometimes I don’t realise how hard I’ve been fighting to keep my head above water until someone finally comes along and tosses a life jacket and I’m able to crumple and cry tears of relief.
She took me to Bubble tea, spoke to me about everything else but the fantasy of me disappearing into great oblivion and I suddenly felt okay.
Being okay- being happy- isn’t being kissed when you want to be kissed or having a perfect year with no disappointing people in it. Being happy is tea while it’s raining, having one’s hair stroked and, despite everything that’s happened in the past year, being able to make jokes and find things to laugh about.
Happiness is what you make of it, the girl under the tree has no clue how she’s going to feel about that moment next year, but hopefully she won’t still be damaged.
Plus she’s still got people to keep her at home.