Since I was 11, when I would look towards a future, i could see nothing but a nothingness before my 16th bday. As my 16th bday got closer....and closer...still there was nothing beyond it but that nothingness. As my father's abuse got more and more violent, I came to the realization that I wouldn't survive to my 16th bday. As the years turned into months, I began to panic. Something had to change if I wanted to make it past 16yo. So I changed. This was the point where I consciously split myself between how I was at home (the cringing mouse trying to evade detection) vs the manic behavior of a drowning person at school. It helped! I could finally see a future beyond 16yo.
Except I could not see anything past 18yo, not even graduation. Still the abuse was getting worse, teachers were told to restrain themselves and not interfere, church people were told to not interfere, and extended family wanted to keep everything hush hush...if you see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil...then you can pretend the evil doesn't exist. During this time I had a few very close encounters with death. But even as I was being choked until the ears hear nothing but the pounding rush of blood and the eyes see nothing, and below the neck is numbness and above the neck feels like an expanding balloon, there was still a part of me that was struggling to save myself, I WANTED to live. Somehow, in my frantic efforts to stay alive, I finally managed to reach beyond my reach, across the last inches of space and jiggle with my fingertips the bottom lock of the heavy metal barred screen door which separated rescue (someone was on the other side pounding on the door to get in) from death. I honestly don't know how I did it. I do know that finally the pressure in my head was suddenly released, I was on the ground, the sound of blood rushing begain to subside, and as if from across a great cavern I coukd hear two men yelling. One of them was saying "I wasn't doing anything." THAT was my father. Caught red handed, and still claiming he was doing nothing wrong, that he hadn't been choking me. (All this because I had not given a super cheerful "good morning" to my step mother. A sleep mumbling good morning wasnt enough.)
The man on the other side had been one of our church leaders. He was told NOT to interfere again. He was so outraged that he left the priesthood. His wife would not agree to him helping me, because the church leaders had given their orders. A few nights after this particular incident, I snuck out of the house to talk with my boyfriend, I wanted to run away. He convinced me to go back home and make a more thorough plan. But I couldn't get back in, because my absence had been discovered. Which resulted in yet another near death event in which my father tried to run us down in his truck. We survived...AND...I could finally see a future, I could finally imagine a life.
Until I went to Utah, where my mother and brothers were. I call it Hatu...the backwards state. Everything was so oppressing. So many masks, so many false images, so much passive-aggression to those who would not or could not conform, it sickened me. Once again, the emptiness lay ahead in my future...I had 6 months to go. Then 4. Then 3 months. Then 2, then 6 weeks, then 4 weeks, then 2 weeks. I finally escaped utah with a pack on my back and my dogs at my side, leaving three days before the emptiness seemed due to arrive.
After hitching a ride which would take us to california (anywhere but where we were), i knew the moment we had crossed the california border. I was sitting in the back, hiddling from the wind, dozing off and on, my dogs keeping me warm. Suddenly I had an image of a tree with branches suddenly spreading out. So many pathways opened up, so many possibilities. I suddenly felt light, like a massive weight had been lifted from me. I finally felt hope. I jerked awake and looked around. A large sign was receding in the distance. i asked where we were and was told we had just now entered california.