Running Away From Home Saved My Life
It was Christmas break 1992. I was ten years old and it was a rare occasion for my sisters and I, we were at my father's and stepmother's place In Hillsboro, Oregon this holiday season. My mother had just recently remarried and she was living in California.
This one particular evening my mother called us up. She then systematically made all three of us cry over the phone. Now she had manipulated myself and my sisters to pull us away early from Christmas break with my father's to visit her during the holidays, despite already agreeing to this time to let him have us this year.
This would be the last time I would see my father for over three and a half years. When we arrived at my mother’s place we met her new husband. I don’t currently feel comfortable telling all the details about this man. But I'll say this he absolutely hated us and made special sport of torturing me and treating me like his personal punching bag. When you’re punched full fledge as a ten year old by a grown man on a daily basis it changes you in a very deep way.
Almost everyday I looked for an opportunity to escape. Yet I was still just a child. My greatest refuge was through my mind. My dreams kept me alive all those years. My mother and my stepfather would end up dragging us all around the US. We were homeless, living in shelters, tents, squatting or mooching off strangers and sometimes friends or relatives.
My mother would seek odd modeling and actress jobs, many times just odd jobs or waitressing while my stepfather refused to work while he got arrested time and time again for theft, fraud and a plethora of other felonies he committed.
The Sacramento, California legal system was a complete joke! Not once while they placed him under house arrest, at a home we were squatting in nonetheless, did they take notice of our black eyes, cuts, torn clothes, malnutrition or the fact that we weren't in school. They were just concerned that he had his ankle monitor on. Which never stopped him from traveling across the US. It also didn’t help that our mother was mentally ill and our stepfather hardly laid a finger on her either. Until I finally saw my moment of escape.
In the State of Oregon at the age of 14yrs old you can choose which parent you’d like to live with and while my mother continually tried to paint my father as a monster I figured even if that was true anything was better than this hell.
So at 13yrs old I took an opportunity and got on a train for Klamath Falls the week of my birthday. I was so nervous I kept feeling like I was going to get caught and have to return to my nightmare.
Here I was making my own personal heroic Oregon Trail to freedom. To this day I will always love trains. From my euphoric treks with my Grandfather to the train museum in Yreka, to the once a lullaby as I’d fall asleep in my partially roofed room in the attic of our shack up in Rocklin California to finally my freedom Amtrak train rescuing me from the jaws of my past.
Certainly this is all pretty heavy stuff to read but this is part of my history and nothing can change that. However, what I’ve learned is that when you see someone that’s hurting, nervous, or afraid please understand they're fighting a battle and they need allies.
So today I want to encourage you to think about the monsters or harsh events in your life. And remember as long as there's air in your lungs there is hope! We all need this hope even if it's to escape in the middle of the night and never look back.
Thank you all so much again for reading & thank you so much to all the friends & heroes in my life that have given me comfort & encouragement to share my story. 📖