For most of my young life I was told how my adult life was going to unfold. My father told me that I would be a lawyer. That I would at first work for a Law Firm and then open my own. My grand mother told me that I would be the best housewife in the world. I was taught to cook and clean, to paint, and chop wood for good measure. I even went as far as teaching myself to fix things that typically a man would do. My mother told me that one day I would marry a man she and my father would pick for me and with him I would remain, even if I wasn't happy. I was told that I would learn to love him and that I would dutifully have children with him. My father told me that if I had marital troubles I would not be allowed to seek their help. Eventually, my mother was replaced (rather quickly), she had gone mad with years of living in fear for both me and her; we were beaten to a pulp on a monthly basis by my father.
One day, the step mother (way too young) told me I would be married off as soon as possible, without being allowed to complete my studies. This was the first time I really feared for my future. In the past I had accepted it but now I was going to be forced into something I was not ready to do. I feared for myself.
At 18, my life dramatically changed, where upon all that I had been sure of was not only uncertain but also very unlikely of taking place. I had run away from home a week after my step mother had told me she was going to have me married off. I was taken out of college, labelled as a failure who had no future as a lawyer; good for nothing.
I left home, rather quietly, all packed and ready to be picked up by a friend and taken to rather kind and generous family. But life is such that I had to leave them, for their safety and mine. My father had found out my whereabouts (thanks to my sister's email hacking skills). there was some confusion to my exact whereabouts as there were two families with the same named child. Thankfully, or not really, he went to the other family's abode bearing a rifle. Bad news travels like a wild fire. I was taken to a safe house. From there I ended up at my father's brother's house 90 miles away. My grand mother came to see me. She told me that I had brought shame to the family, she told me that when she died it would be from that shame. Still, I did not go back. When I found out that my uncle was planning to return me to my rather angry and violent father, I ran away again. That time I ran away to a friend's house which was 81 miles away. I sofa surfed for six months with nightmares of my father every single night. I shut myself away from all my family and tried to think of my next move to no avail.
This was the first time in my life when there was no certainty to my future. For the first time in my life I felt free but that sense of freedom was always shrouded by an overwhelming amount of guilt. In fact, for years it would feel like I was being choked.. At the time, I had symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In fact, since I left home, I have had physical and mental disorders due to that event. For years, if I saw my fathers lookalike car, I would start hyperventilating. I became severely depressed and still suffer suffer from anxiety.
I ended up in a youth hostel. I had to learn to cope with things. Then one day my back started hurting. I found out that trauma can have a physically affect you too. Since then back pain has been my closest companion. But even that enabled me to explore the world. I didn't go travelling but I met people, I did lots of different things. I worked for all kinds of people and creatures who have suffered. For once in my life I started to get to know who I really was. Of course going through something like that left a lot of scars. I couldn't trust people. I became angry too. It was a slow process, with a lot of sessions in CBT and counselling but eventually I started living.
I have never wished to go back in time and change things. I have never wished that I had stayed at home. I have never looked back. My biggest regret is not taking my siblings with me.
This whole experience has taught me so many things. I am able to appreciate and recognise the good times. I am stronger now, much more than I every thought I could be, but most importantly, it has taught me to be compassionate, something I would have never learnt had I stayed with my father.
I hadn't left home because I hate the culture I come from. It's our way of doing things. Arranged marriages happen all the time. Forced marriage is not part of our culture, it's in the darker corners, not in the prominence. Thinking about it today, I feel like another part of me had taken the reigns of control over me, a stronger me who had woken up when threatened with an injustice I did not deserve. That part of me is still ignited to a certain extent to this day. I suppose the innocence I held died the day I left home and with it died a part of me that can never be replaced.
Uncertainty is a horrible feeling to endure. The only walls holding you back are those made by you. Always try to break them on your own pace. It has taken me 7 years to get to where I wanted to get to.
The world can be your oyster.