My Story …..
This is part of my story that I have never shared. Many of you know that I was adopted and have heard different parts of my adoption story, but I have never told the story of the night I ran away.
This picture was taken over 3 months ago, but I am choosing to finally share the story behind it. I don’t know why it took me so long. Maybe I wasn’t ready? Maybe I was trying to find the right words?
Exactly 22 years ago on December 7, 1996 I was sitting in my childhood bedroom in the house that sits at the top of the hill in the background, plotting my escape.
I was adopted in 1981, when I was only 9 1/2 months old. As far back as I can remember, the environment I was raised in didn’t feel right. As a logical adult, I can now rationalize that I’m sure my adopted parents did the best they could with what they had. But I don’t remember having a happy childhood. I never felt secure. I never felt loved. I was terrified of my father. I lived in fear. I felt smothered by my mother and had no respect for her, even though, now at almost 38, I can look back and see many good skills and characteristics I possess because of what she taught me by watching her… mostly because I spent my whole life doing the opposite of her.
I was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness, which was mortifying, on top of having old, poor and super strict parents and being one of only a handful of Asian kids in school.
I didn’t believe in what was taught at the “meetings” I was forced to attend 5 hours a week. I didn’t love going from door to door spreading “the truth” as they called it. I didn’t like not being able to LIVE because to live like a normal person was forbidden because it violated all my parents rules that they justified with their religion. I didn’t like living in fear because they tried to convince me that I’d never see age 3-0 because “Armageddon” was coming… ??
On the night of December 7, 1996 I was so excited. I was granted permission to stay the night at a fellow JW kids house. Her mom wasn’t strict like mine. She made her go to meetings, but let her date & even knew she drank and had sex …
That night was a school dance. She planned on picking me up from work and then we’d head to the dance. I borrowed my best friends sisters dress and had it with me. I told everyone at work because I was SO EXCITED that I was going to my first dance!
…. Everything was going according to plan… however, I didn’t realize one of my co-workers had called my parents home asking when I was going to be arriving at the dance…
As I was walking into the dance with my friend, happy as can be, I didn’t even notice my parents parked in front of the school. Right in front of all of my friends, I got called out by my father and had to leave right then and there.
My heart sank. Then began to race the whole drive home. I just knew that I was going to get my ass beat again by my dad, but when we got home he surprisingly didn’t lay a hand on me, instead he searched my bag, taking the $200 in cash that I had in there, sent me to my room and never said another word. The silence was deafening. Him nor my spineless mother said a word. She might have been scared for me, like I had suspected before, but she’d never say anything or speak up to defend me. Never did. Never would. Never has.
I was furious, but I mostly was scared, scared of the unknown. I didn’t know what was coming next, but I was already absolutely miserable and knew it most definitely would not get any better.
After stewing over it for a couple hours I made the decision to runaway. I snuck into the bathroom to grab a few items and packed my backpack with two pairs of clothes. And then I sat and waited. And waited. OMG! I was actually going to do this. At nearly 2 A.M. I did the scariest thing I had ever done up until that moment …. I quietly jumped out of my window. Without a flashlight. Without a plan. I was breathing so heavy & my heart was about to pound out of my chest. My heart was beating so loud that I couldn’t tell if I was being quiet or loud. I felt like every leaf I stepped on was loud AF. I was afraid of the dark (and still am), but getting caught and getting beaten by my 300 lb. father again was even scarier. Once my feet hit the asphalt on HWY 20… I stared down the dark highway. Was I really going to do this? There was no turning back now! I had never been brave. But I mustered up all the courage I could find and I ran. I ran as fast as I could, faster than I ever have. The air was cold and thin. All I could hear was my heartbeat & breath escaping my mouth as I ran down that dark road, absolutely terrified, with the wind piercing my cheeks and stealing my breath. The whole time I was hoping that no cars would drive by (because I was terrified of being abducted ?… still am ??♀️), but at the same time kinda hoped one would and provide some light, any light just so I could see. You have no idea what it’s like in the pitch black in NorCal in the woods. I ran. I kept running for what felt like forever.
My throat felt like it was closing. My lungs were on fire. My legs were burning. My feet hurt.
If I could just make it to the bottom of the hill to the RV park… to the payphone (that is still there to this day)… that’s all I was focused on. By the time I got there, I was cold AF, but dripping in sweat…. this was the first day of my freedom, the freedom that I’ve been fighting for ever since.
When I moved back to my hometown this June… it was scary. As soon as I topped that hill & passed their house, then drove that stretch of highway that I had run so many years ago and then looked over to see that very payphone still standing… it hit me … just how much I had healed & just how brave I still was, returning to the place that held so many painful memories. I came back here for a reason, for what, I am mot sure yet.
As I stood in the middle of the empty road and took this picture in August as I was leaving to fly back to Texas to see my girls, I couldn’t help but still feel a twinge of pain as that young scared girl that has healed, but still has much more healing left, but also damn proud of who I’ve become despite it all.
….. more of this story to come (to be continued) …..