She is stuck up in a world on her own
Forced to think that Hell is a place called home
Nothin’ else to do but get some clothes and pack
She says she’s ’bout to run away and never come back
–Runaway Love by Ludacris and Mary J. Blige
I eventually checked my email and saw my plane ticket was sent for May 9th, 2014. When I arrived at the airport and checked-in my bags, I realized my new life was about to change. It was my first time flying on my own. I am sure security thought it was my first time flying ever because my voice shook when I spoke. When it was boarding time and I took my seat, I instantly started crying because even though my family did me wrong, California never did. I have been living in California since I was 3 years old. The west coast was all I knew. I had no idea what Missouri was like! I was going to miss EVERYTHING, especially my cousins and nieces. My extended family made life a little easier. When will I see them again…when will I come here again? This was a one-way ticket. There was no going back. Once we were in the air, I looked out the window from my aisle seat and said goodbye to Rose.
Looking back on it, I knew it was a crazy move! I knew nothing about the world and here I was jumping into the unknown. But I was done being treated like dirt. I need to get out for the sake of my sanity. I was just not happy and I knew if I stayed, I would have ended up dead on my bedroom floor. This was for my survival!
After a 6-hour delay layover in Dallas, I landed in Missouri as Rae. I have always loved the name. New life, new name. When I saw the woman and man who were now my host parents, I did not know how to feel.
Let’s call her Martha.
Let’s call him Clark.
I just couldn’t believe I was here and free! They both gave me a hug and I did feel a bit awkward. I didn’t even know they existed and now I was living with them. Once we got my bags, we went to Sonic. They both ordered grilled cheese sandwiches since they were vegetarians and I got chicken tenders with ranch and a shake. We ate on the way home and it took us about 20 minutes. They had the cutest baby blue house. When I entered their house, I was welcomed by puppies! I have always wanted a dog, so having two was even better. Their home looked very authentic and different. I was used to Ikea catalogue-looking rooms. It felt very home-y. We had a nightcap and drank some tea with Rumchata. I thought it was cool that I was allowed to drink around them even though I wasn’t 21 yet. The night ended with them giving me a case for my phone and colored hair protectant because I got my tips colored blonde. I thought that was really nice.
I remember laying in bed that night thinking how amazing Martha and Clark were. I was not used to being treated like a human being. I was just so grateful because they got me out. They were my heroes! I felt safe for once.
When I woke up the next day, I woke up to birds chirping instead of the loud voice in my head telling me to get up at 8 am. It took me a while to remember where I was. I was the first one up. I remember Martha telling me that they were not the type to wake up early in the morning, opposite of what I was used to. When Martha woke up, she was in her robe and decided to take one of the birds out. This was such a different environment, I remember thinking as I watched Martha give the bird kisses.
When Clark woke up, we decided to go out for breakfast. We went to a breakfast cafe and I ordered French toast, eggs with ham, and sweet browns. It was delicious! After that, Martha toured me around town. I saw the tallest building in the city and it was nothing compared to San Francisco or Los Angeles. I saw the college I would be attending and went downtown. We got snow cones and Martha got me a tropical flavored one. It was nice to be out and about in the sun, but I hated the humidity! I had a nice time though. Later that night, we went to a birthday party that consisted mainly of 20-30 year olds, “F*ck, Marry, Kill” and Beyonce. Martha and Clark were twice as old as I was, so it was surprising they enjoyed these kinds of parties. It was so much fun! I met some awesome people. I was not used to the good vibes, but I loved it!
The first two days were a great introduction to my new home. It was not as fast paced like in California. The energy here was a lot more relaxed and toned down. I did not see as much minorities, which was disappointing because I was so used to seeing colored people. In the beginning, I did feel awkward going out in public with Martha because of my skin. I felt like I was the only brown person because this place was predominantly white. But I eventually got over that and started getting used to living life with my new Caucasian family.
Not only was I going out and experiencing life, I was experiencing what it was like to be in a healthy family. I got closer to both Martha and Clark and eventually started calling them “mom and dad.” I got to meet Martha’s daughter and adopted son.
Lets call her Lou
Lets call him Manny.
They threw me a welcome party and I was introduced to many of their awesome friends. I met a girl who watched Glee like me and a girl who had purple hair. I got drunk and kept saying, “I love you guys!” I was living in an entirely different world.
Martha definitely helped me get on my feet. She got me a job working for the city as an intern. I did clerical work and helped people with resumes. It was a good 9-5 that gave me experience. I was enrolled into a community college and got to experience how college life really was. I even made friends with a yoga lovin’ vegan. We went to hookah bars, walked on trails, went out to eat. I was having the time of my life!
I was playing badminton and going on bike rides. I was going geocaching, playing spoons, and rope swinging into the river. Martha decorated my room the way I wanted to. She painted the walls and made my room so chic.
I was kayaking and floating during the summer and sun-kissed by the sun. No one told me my dark skin was ugly. In fact, people saw me as exotic looking. No one looked like me. I was taking classes I wanted and learning American Sign Language. Though I was admitted into a psychiatric ward, I was provided therapy from a college counselor which really helped. I was going to events at a gay bar and even went to a gay wedding. I even got to go to Skepticon and met Hemant Mehta, the Friendly Atheist. I came out as a Secular Humanist the day before.
I got to go to Arkansas and experience being flower bathed in a trauma ceremony by a healer. I went to Eureka Springs and rocked flower crowns. I was doing things I’ve always wanted to do and then some. I was seeing the world in a different light and it was all thanks to Martha.
She even made my 21st birthday a great one! She made me a heart-shaped coconut cake with slivered almonds on top. I told her I didn’t have a debut or cotillion when I turned 18. A,debut is a Filipino girl’s 18th birthday where she finally becomes a woman — similar to a Sweet 16 or Quinceañera. When she gave me a crown, I thought it was so thoughtful of her. Lou, Manny, and my vegan friend came and they got me shirts, alcohol, and shot glasses. I never really had a birthday party before so I really appreciated the things they did. I was a happy camper and was so grateful to be part of an awesome family!
Not only did they do so much for me, they also treated me like a daughter. Martha comforted me when I needed her the most. When I had my first breakdown, she left work to be with me. When I didn’t feel good enough, she made me feel like I was by telling me I was amazing, smart, beautiful, etc. I bonded with her when we went out to eat on our lunch hour. We sang in the same chorus together. She bought me a journal and other self-help books. I remember us binge watching Orange Is The New Black in her bedroom. I just loved her so much! It took me a little longer to get comfortable with Clark because of my past experiences with men, but when I did, he became my best friend. He taught me how to jump start a car and put air in a tire. I remember us going on a lot of Taco Bell runs. He got me a laptop, which was unexpected. Whenever I needed a hug, he was there to give it. He was protective over me and I felt loved for once. I put Martha and Clark on a pedestal and thought they were the perfect parents! I felt so lucky! I loved them so much, I even got a tattoo that represents them.
However, in one of my therapy sessions, my therapist mentioned Borderline Personality Disorder or BPD. When I was in California, I did a lot of research on it. I pretty much self-diagnosed myself but at the time, I thought it was gone because I was so happy with my new life and family. But as time went on, I realized I was wrong. I did have Borderline Personality Disorder. In the beginning, I was recovering. I was taking Prozac and going to counselling every week, but there were certain moments where I felt like I was back home at my mother’s house. That caused me to spiral out of control.
There were certain times where Martha made me feel ashamed of myself. I became a vegetarian for two months because I got tired of Martha making me feel uncomfortable about eating meat even though I said it was for ethical reasons. She made me feel ashamed for being “mainstream”, whatever the hell that means. So I decided to change some more so I would look more “interesting.” I colored my hair purple and got an eyebrow piercing. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to get them done. I just thought this would help them accept me more.
I started to feel abandoned by them by the seventh month due to my spending problem. My college had a Starbucks and drinks have always been my vice. So everyday, I bought chai or green tea lattes with hazelnut. When they found out how much money I spent this time, they told me I damaged their trust. This wasn’t the first time this happened. After they talked to me and forgave me the first time, the next day, I bought a drink. I should have been saving my money, but instead I just wanted instant satisfaction with sugar and caffeine.
I wanted to see if they really loved me, so I tested them to see if they would leave. But I did it in the most bizarre ways. Near Halloween, I pretended that I was having a nightmare from a nap. I decided to be extra and started yelling and screaming. I did this before about three times and Clark would always walk in, soothe me with his words, and comfort me. But this time, he did not. That made me feel some type of way, so I decided to take it up a notch and also pretend that I did not know where I was. I acted like I did not know who they were. I told Clark the last memory I had was from two years ago. I couldn’t stop myself. I just kept going even when he knew what I was doing. I started shaking and eventually just let out a big scream. It was probably loud enough that the neighbors heard. I woke up not knowing what to do with myself and it caused me to break down. Martha laid next to me until I fell asleep after the incident. I was so ashamed of myself. They did not deserve this stress. I knew things were going to be different from here on out.
I was not diagnosed with BPD then, but when I was, I eventually became worse. Martha and Clark met up with my counselor one day and talked about it. They were exhausted and tired of my acting and lying. Martha was losing weight and needing anti-depressants while Clark was tired of being in the middle of Martha and my arguments. They wanted me out so I said I would just go back to California. They did not hesitate to say okay and that hurt so much. I did not mean to cause any harm to them. I felt so heartbroken that I began acting out and being reckless.
I started smoking cigarettes and marijuana. I even bought a pipe and named it Lana. I started partying and coming home in the late hours of the night. Martha and Clark were furious, but once again, I put it up a notch. I made friends with a girl.
Lets call her Bonnie.
She was in one of my classes and eventually, we became friends. I went out with her and her friends one day to grab some drinks and had my first one night stand ever with a guy that wasn’t really into me. He just wanted my body for the night. When I came home that morning, I told Clark and he sounded understanding, but he really wasn’t.
They stopped believing my explanations. Clark told me I was doing all those things for pure enjoyment of being borderline. The reason I was doing all those things was because I was lost and didn’t know what to do. I felt like I ran away for nothing and my perfect family was gone.
I eventually met a married couple from my work study job and started hanging out with them and their kids since Martha and Clark started doing their own thing. I remember celebrating Easter with them and playing Skyrim. I started going from person to person for validation because my host parents stopped giving it to me. It was all because I had BPD.
When Bonnie told me I could move in with her, I tried to move in as fast as I can. I eventually did with the married couple’s help, but it was not easy. They confronted Clark, saying how they did not like the way they were treating me; that is was a form of abuse. Clark called for back up and had his three buddies help him. Martha did not come out of her room, even when I was packing up my stuff. I left certain things behind on purpose like the Dialectical Behavioral Therapy workbook she got me. I was so angry, but also very sad. I lost another family. Why was it so hard for me to keep one? I was going through this a second time, but it did not hurt as much.
Once I left their house, I did not look out the window like I did in California on the plane. I just said goodbye with my head down and began another chapter in my life but this time, alone. I was terrified.