Editorial note: Charlie blogs at Blind Horse Girl. Charlie is a pseudonym.
I remember being eleven years old, writing my mother a letter that was telling her I was running away. This was less than six months after my father had passed away, and a few months after we joined a church that I consider even to this day is both my savior and pain-filled. How I look at it depends on both the time and what I have heard from friends who still are active in both the church and world of home schooling. I haven’t told anyone about the letter, I remember the feeling though that I was going to be free, but after I thought for a second the letter was torn up and hid at the bottom of the trash can.
Maybe that would be the first time I considered telling someone, anyone about what was going in my home. I wasn’t actively being home schooled at that point in time, though I was still being taught at home in what I consider ”the fundamentalist home schooling way.” Before my father’s death I was being home schooled. My grandparents insisted that I go to regular school. I love and hate those three years. Love them because they allowed me some normalcy, but hate them because my mother found something she loved, a Pentecostal/church of god/mega church (I don’t know what else to call it, and most should at least know the type).
Home schooling though did come back like a flood, part of me thinks this is because of my choice of friends, but honestly it most likely would have happened anyway. By tenth grade, I was back to being home schooled. This time, though, involved more of what my fellow homeschool alumni are used to. Creation as science, courting, and the whole nine yards. None of which I believe in, now I am shockingly a rather happy Catholic, although that might change once I get the courage to come out of the closet on something other than a Harry Potter role playing site. Something again that makes me a sinner. Let’s just say I am a Catholic bisexual evolutionist who is visibly disabled (blind if you’re wondering). This isn’t about that though, this is supposed to be about how I got here from there.
I was what most would consider a high school dropout (though I did finish school, never got to actually get proof though), working at a horse barn making barely enough to get by. I did love having my own money, working and no future courting in sight (more than likely because I wasn’t putting myself out there, nor were we the norm). I have no father, and my mother has never been your typical active church mom.
What changed this was when I got in a horse accident resulting in legal blindness, so independent me was back allowing my mother control of her life. But looking back, My mother never really lost control. She had my legal documents, had access to both my cash, and bank account, and was pretty much allowed to tell me what to do and how to do it. When medical treatment failed, my mother insisted that my healing was to be found in the church. When it did not work, my mother turned to anger that I was disabled, because she saw me as forever in her care. The abuse that was a norm of my childhood became a norm of my adulthood.
My lack of income meant that she lost her apartment, and had us move in with a friend of hers, another follower of the faith. It was fine for the most part in the beginning, or more than likely it was my norm. When my money ran out things changed I felt as if a light switch had been flipped. I wasn’t allowed to leave the bedroom I was forced to share with my mother. My laptop was gone, something that years ago when she got it for me she promised she wouldn’t take away. Phone numbers of relatives deleted out of my phone, it seemed out of fear I would call a relative and tell them what was going on. My closest friend insisted once I told her what was going that I needed to pray for help. Out of pure desperation I contacted a friend, who I had never met from a horse forum, through Facebook on my cell phone. She insisted that yes I was being abused, and yes, they were acting crazy. She insisted that I needed to leave, or at least contact adult protective services, considering that I am a protected class.
I remember that last day better than all the rest, something says to me that my mother heard me talking to her, more likely only some of it, because she stayed in my room, making comments about how I have been wanting to spend time with her for weeks and now I was trying to kick her out of the room. (The reason I wanted her to leave was because I wanted to call.) When I had finally gotten the courage to tell my mother I was leaving, she told me I had to wait until a certain date, something that still sends a chill through me.
I said I was going for a walk, I don’t know why they allowed me, though I am grateful they did. I left with nothing more than the long cane I barely knew how to use and the clothing on my back. I planned on walking to a local store and calling the non-emergency line to see about getting a ride to the local homeless shelter.
(Now what I did after this is was not safe, I was rather lucky to be picked up by who I was and not some other person.)
It didn’t turn out that way. My savior, as I like to think of him, pulled up and talked to me and then told me that homeless shelter doesn’t take people after dark. He offered me his couch, which I slept on until we figured how to get me to the friend I am now staying with, out of the state my mother is in.
I haven’t spoken to her since she told me she was going down to the courthouse with the woman to file for back rent, something I know is not legal, I signed nothing that said I would pay rent. My important documents have since been replaced, and I am waiting for other things to get straightened out.
My story is an odd one, and it sounds even odd to my ears (I use a screenreader), but it is all true. I don’t think anyone, let alone someone who is blind like myself, should leave in the night. But I did what I felt I had to do, I saw my way out and went for it.
I don’t fully blame my mother for being the way she is. I wish things were different, but they aren’t. I do plan on getting my GED, going to college, and maybe getting a guide dog.
I am a homeschooler who found her way out.