Pseudonym note: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Sarah Morgan” is a pseudonym.
I wish I had known they did not have to stay in my world.
I wish I had known that answers can be found for the very real problems I was begging god to fix.
I wish I had known that the threat of hell is illegitimate.
I wish I had known that, if I wanted, I could succeed at getting away: because, no, god was not on their side. I didn’t learn to drive because it was hell to try, with one of my parents in the passenger seat telling me my every wrong move. If I had known that driving is a ticket out, I could have pushed through that or gotten driver’s ed. I wish I had known that out is doable.
I wish I had known that it is okay to both earn and spend money on the things important to me, and that loving things simply because I love them is okay.
I wish I had known it is okay to be beautiful on purpose, and that putting effort into looking pretty does not make me stupid.
I wish I had known that strangers are some times much, much kinder than my family. (Strangers often don’t know differently than to threat you like a person. They also can have the capacity to act more objectively towards you, unlike the family friend whose vested interests include staying in your dad’s good graces by disbelieving you. It was another six years before I started to realize how it felt for someone who didn’t know my parents to hear my story.)
I wish I had known that sex has the potential of being good and non-painful, and can be had without jailing yourself in a submissive relationship for life or trampling on the Only One who truly defines true love. I wish I had some inkling that said One was made up by people to control me, and that this was unhealthy.
I wish I had known that it was okay for me to exist, and that being me was an appropriate goal to strive for, rather than a bad thing to extinguish.
I wish I had known that it was okay to find a boyfriend. I wish I had known to calculate my risks based on the things I could see and perceive, rather than factoring in the supernatural things I had been taught to fear. I wish I had known that my body was my own, and understood my options when it came to birth control and hair styles. I wish I had known I didn’t have to let my parents control me, that the terrible darkness I fought was not my fault, and that it was possible to find something different.
I wish I had known that college can be a ticket out. I wish I had known it was okay to plan a career based on a practical job combined with my passion, and the sooner the better.
I wish I had known that it was okay to love what I love, and hate what I hate, and that I don’t have to announce it to anyone or trust this information to anyone I don’t feel safe around. I wish I had known that I knew both far more and far less than I thought, and I could be wrong about significant things without my value as a human decreasing. I wish I had known that, as a girl, I could have as many options and was at least as smart as my brothers.
I wish I had known it was okay for me to have friends, and to pursue hobbies and interests and adventures; that time has the value we humans give it, and none of my activities were inherently a “waste of time” — except perhaps exerting effort whose sole return is the pleasure of people who didn’t even like or want to know me. I wish I had known that I deserved respect.
I wish I had known that what I grew up with was messed up; that I was not crazy, but my surroundings may have been. I wish I had known to see my anger and discomfort with my upbringing as a sign it was drastically skewed, and that there is zero merit in lying to say a parent is a better person than their behavior has shown them to be. I wish I had known that I had far more power in my own life, and far less in the broader sphere of my family, than I had the capacity to comprehend.
I wish I had known that, if I wanted a hero, it was going to have to be me.
No one, human or divine, was coming to my rescue. I wish I had known that I was capable, that escape was morally okay, and that it was up to me.