I am nobody special. I am just a brown girl from the Bay Area who now lives in Missouri. You are probably wondering how does one go from living in sunny California to the unpredictable Missouri? Well, let’s just say I’m ready to share my story. I thought I wanted to share it two in a half years ago, but little did I know God had more things planned for me that had made me the strong woman I am today. Ever since I was five, I’ve endured many traumatic things. I have seen the evil and disgusting sides of people. I have heard words spoken that do nothing but break a person’s heart. I have gone through things that I still have scars from, but I am still here. I truly believe God gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers.
I was raised in a strict, conservative household and because of that, my childhood was a very confusing time. I was introduced into a world of bullying, colorism, racism, body fascism, sexual abuse, sexism, slut shaming, captivity, and mistreatment from my family. Many people think about running away from home, but very few do.
I knew at the age of five that my family was different when my brothers and I came home from the park one day. When I got home, I saw a side of my mother I’ve never seen before. She put her hands on me for the first time all the while wearing a scary facial expression. I remember falling backwards against a wall with my backpack still on. That was my first memory of being really scared. Why would mommy do that to me? What did I do? Because of that incident, I knew at a young age that I had to be careful.
I was a weird, spirited little girl who just wanted to have fun. All I cared about was wearing clothes that didn’t go together and painting my nails a hi-lighter yellow. I was different and because of that, I was bullied.
I was told I was ugly and got made fun of because of my brown skin. I was also put in harmful situations. For example, playing Marco Polo blindfolded in a pitch–dark garage and being led to hit the workout equipment. Or being told to cut my own bangs and get in trouble for it. Or having the garage close on me. I had no idea why I was picked on so much. I had no idea why not one adult told them to stop. It made me feel so bad, that I would cry all night, but then was told if I don’t stop, I’d have to sleep outside. Even though I was treated this way, I did not do anything back. I just continued playing by myself and with my imaginary friend Johnny even though everyone saw me as the weirdo.
I am a naturally tan-skinned girl and I didn’t care how I looked like until I was given whitening products. I had no idea that being brown was considered bad until I was told by many women in my family that being white was the color to be. My weight then got involved when I got a bit chubbier because food became my vice, my comfort due to the bullying. I was told I was fat many times; that I needed to lose weight. Looking back to old photos, I have no idea what they were talking about! I was a sensitive one, so all this bullying really got to me. It lowered my self-esteem and made me think I was ugly. Even though I didn’t retaliate, I was still hurt.
When I was 10, I lived with a family member who was really close to my mother. I had no idea why I was being sent away, but I was not mad about it because home was just a bad environment for me. She was my favorite family member, so I was excited to live with her. But I was being taken advantage of by grown men. I was told to go into a room and touch someone who was loved by everybody. I eventually became his friends’ prey and was also told to do things to him. Two married men with kids would force me to kiss their disgusting tasting mouths. But this was not new to me. I lived with them for two years and eventually, I was sent back home to my mother.
Once I was back with my family, I became this attention-seeking, boy-obsessed, people-pleasing, preteen and teenager. I hated coming back home because I did not feel wanted or loved. So in order to feel loved, I turned to boys. I was so desperate for a boyfriend that I instant messaged three boys at the same time asking them if they wanted to date me in middle school. The sad part is that they didn’t even know I existed. When I entered high school, it got even worse. When a boy showed interest in me, I became obsessed with them even though I wasn’t really into him. I just wanted to have somebody because I felt so alone. It got to the point where I stole an iPod from a family friend just to be able to talk to my boyfriend. It caused my mother and I to not talk to each other for four months. Many restrictions were put upon me. I couldn’t go out with my friends. I couldn’t do any extracurricular activities. I couldn’t even use my cellphone. I did join choir in high school though, but I didn’t get much support. Even when I got myself a solo for a concert. Whatever I wanted to do, I was told “no!”. I was not trusted. All I really wanted was to hang out with my friends and get some boba. But because I was restricted, I resorted to social media and was glued to my laptop. That was my connection to the outside world.
Tumblr was my obsession during this time because it gave me a platform to express my true feelings. But I also used it as a platform to meet men. The guys I flirted with gave me the attention I wanted. I was not given the attention and emotional support from my family, so I went and looked for it; but went to extreme measures to get it. I had a long-distance relationships with men from different states (even countries). I messed around with them via Skype. Since I couldn’t use my phone, I texted them using my Kindle. But when I wasn’t in a relationship and lonely, I’d go on kik messenger and start sexting with men. I didn’t know why I wanted so much male attention. I didn’t have a desire to make any female friends, but when I did, I was happy. I just wanted love, even though it wasn’t. I eventually grew tired of just skyping with my significant other, so I decided to talk to someone I could actually see.
But the person I chose was not respected at all, due to the fact that he was black. Growing up, I heard many racist and ignorant remarks from my family about African Americans and it really made me think about what kind of people my blood was. Since my family moved a lot, I grew up with many different cultures. I was seen as a slut because I was attracted to men that weren’t white. Though I heard it a lot, I couldn’t agree with their opinions because I love everyone. I was so done with my parents that some nights, I would sneak my boyfriend into my room, which was upstairs.
That was when I decided to write my mother a letter. I wrote many apology letters to her because I never had the courage to actually say, “I’m sorry”. In the letter, I asked if she could compromise her rules. I wrote this letter when I was 20 years old. During that time, I saw a lot of people I graduated with going to college and being successful. I was attending a proprietary school for a for-profit private college that had class only once a week. The only job experience I had was from Baskin Robbins, an ice cream shop. I wasn’t taught how to drive. I just now am learning how to, which is embarrassing. I was so sheltered and it made me suicidal. I’ve tried to kill myself many times on the floor of my room. I felt like a brown skinned turned light skinned slave because of whitening products and lack of Vitamin D. I was emotionally and mentally drained from my captive lifestyle. For a year, and I’m not exaggerating, all I did was wake up at 8:00 am, eat breakfast, clean the kitchen, watched my shows on the DVR, go on the computer/read a book, eat dinner, clean the kitchen, then stay in my room for the rest of the night. I would be up until 2:00 am doing God knows what. I just wanted things to be different. But unfortunately, my mother did not feel the same way. So that’s when I started planning to runaway.
During that time, I met this woman through a Facebook group. Since I did not have any one to talk to, I resorted to talking to people on the internet. I posted my feelings about not knowing if I believed in God or not. Her comment stood out because she went through the same thing. We eventually became FB friends and started getting to know each other. When she asked me if I was willing to fly to Missouri, I did not hesitate to say yes. I just wanted to get out of that house!
A part of me always knew I was going to run away. When you experience heartache from your family over and over again, you begin to gravitate towards people that are not family. You begin to hate your own and want a new one. All I ever wanted was to have a family that love and supported me. All I ever wanted was to hear “I love you” and “I’m proud of you”. But I never did. This woman was the opposite of my mother. She understood me and comforted me when I needed it. The little girl in me was just running to a mom that she always wanted.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of Runaway Love.