The first day I gained my freedom, I was twenty-seven. It was both exhilarating and terrifying. There was a time where I looked back on that day and felt nothing but pain. Pain of what I walked away from, pain because I had left the people I loved most, pain because I was leaving a huge chunk of my world behind. Funny how things change. I now look back at those first weeks of freedom with fondness, probably because I know now what the future had in store for me. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made.
It sounds immature, but one of the first things I did was to walk my butt into a tattoo parlor and get dermal piercings put in. It was a sign of freedom. Proof in every single way that I had autonomy, I had ownership of my own body, that I was my own. I did something that I knew I was banned from doing, and regret nothing. Those piercings symbolize a point in my life I never want to forget.
I imagine it sounds pretty odd to say that I didn’t gain my freedom until I was twenty-seven. It probably sounds like I left some cult. In many ways, I did. It’s difficult to describe the environment in which I grew up. I can’t put words to an experience that is so foreign to others. It was like a cult without outsiders. Strictly a family matter. Corrupted Biblical versus used for personal gain, but no claims of actually being God. An environment so threatening that thinking for yourself was unimaginable. I never even thought to think for myself, and when I left home I didn’t know how. I can describe brainwashing and how it happens, because I’ve lived it, and I can explain Stockholm Syndrome pretty well too.
Most kids start trying on different hats an teenagers. They are looking for their own identity, exploring who they are and who they want to be, they are trying to figure out what fits them best. I totally missed that stage. Like entirely. Cult-like environments, brainwashing, Stockholm Syndrome, enmeshment, it all result in a situation where you are never able to decide who you are, what you believe, or what you want in life. You never become a person really, you’re just a walking talking carbon copy of someone else, and the sad part is you don’t recognize it.
I didn’t dare try to separate myself as an individual for those first few years on my own. Mostly because I didn’t know how, partly because I didn’t recognize the depth of enmeshment, and partly because breaking away felt scary. Now, four years later, I’m exploring who I want to be, mind, body, and soul. It’s been a really awesome process, and one I don’t want to end anytime soon. Right now, I’m simply me–undefined.