(Lyrics in this post from part of “Skyway” by the Apples in Stereo)
40 times you may question your life
4 to 5 with the hunting knife
Before you find out if you survive
Questioning marks have turned into stars
So I talked to my psychologist again. He remembers things, like how he remembers I told him I twittered, but that I had never told him I blogged. We talked a little bit about Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
We ended up talking about what it took me to leave.
I remember the day I decided to leave very clearly. My father had stormed off downstairs after abusing me in my own dorm room because I was making more money at a college job than he did. I was shaking, and my mother took my hands comfortingly into hers. She asked me quietly if I would please have dinner with my father and apologize. I said no, like any sane person who didn’t know better would.
So she crushed my right hand.
This made it difficult to eat dinner with them afterwards.
Oh, my hilariously abusive childhood and college years.
Now, it’s one thing to decide to leave, which is incredibly hard enough. But it’s quite another thing to actually do it. My parents controlled my bank account, and if I didn’t answer their daily phone calls, they called the local police to go find me. They visited every week to check up on me.
And that’s why it took me three years to build up the resources to separate from them. Mostly it was the money; I opened my own bank account, and starved to deposit a healthy amount into my parents’ and my own so nobody would suspect anything.
When I first separated from them, it wasn’t a clean break. I just wanted a position from which I could say, “Yo, I’ll call once a week and you can visit once a month.”
I had no idea of the different hell they would unleash upon me for daring to question their power that much. From there spiralled the death threats. From my parents. Received in the mail.
That was when I found out from my friends that there was such a thing as an emergency dean for problems such as this.
For the record you remember the few
Who for a second time you bid adieu
40 days in the neon haze
Festering dreams are dressed in fakeries
There were worse things coming, of course. For instance, trying to get a restraining order where I lived at the time was almost impossible. I couldn’t afford, monetarily or emotionally, all the court hearings it required. In the end, I never could get one.
But what did it matter? My parents didn’t want to harass me or make phone calls. They wanted to kill me. The police couldn’t arrest them before they actually attempted to kill me, either.
It took a while, and a lot of other bad things happened, some actually unrelated, before I realized that nothing—I’d spent a lot of time making up rescue plans for my stuff—nothing physical was worth getting killed over.
I lost a lot of things. I must admit, I am jealous of people who think that, say, physical books are better than digital books. I could have taken a Kindle along. Or an iPhone. Or anything little with a ton of books on it. I couldn’t take my autographed by Neil Gaiman copy of American Gods. I couldn’t take my collection of valuable computer science classics. I couldn’t take my entire painstakingly collected from used bookstores hardcover collection of Nero Wolfe mysteries. I couldn’t even take the cheap Pratchett paperbacks or my Harry Potter first editions.
So anyways. I spent three years running and learning about legal name changes and so on. At some point I settled here in the wet Pacific Northwest and took a not great job because it got me as far as possible away from my parents. I worked my way along and focused on getting a house in a locale so high-priced that anyone who couldn’t make more than a graduate student on stipend would not be able to gain a permanent foothold. Where the price of commuting is both long and extremely high. It eats up a lot of money to hang on here, and I would not have it were I not lucky in my stock portfolio just before the housing prices started sliding into hell.
Not, of course, that this will help much if they find me. My parents want to kill me. It just takes one lucky night for them and one unlucky night for me. In the meantime, I do what I can to reduce the possibility of such a night, but like anyone who’s stalked, I have to make peace with myself. Every day is possibly, in a very real sense, my last day alive.
I don’t look into the future much, except in terms of the portfolio. Money isn’t everything, but lord, it bought me my freedom and continues to do so.
You follow the skyway
You follow your right away
You follow the streets and the cars
And the shadows and the stars
Okay, I’ve got a couple weeks before I see my psychologist again. Even with a clueful bartender, these sessions take a lot out of me.
2 thoughts on “Session Five, or, How I Left”
How do you manage to reconcile what’s clearly a life lived (to some degree) in hiding with having an active online presence? In your position I suspect I’d hardly even dare poke my virtual head out the proverbial door. Is there an element of defiance in blogging, twittering and being active online, or just trepidation, or neither at all?
Also, if you run through all of Fritz Leiber, there’s always Tom Holt. I haven’t read him for a while but he’s still at it, and he’s always good for a light, light-hearted evening.
That’s an interesting question I shall address in another blog post, because it’s a long answer, or at least a complicated one.
I’d heard of Tom Holt vaguely before, but forgot about him. I didn’t know he did humorous SF!
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