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Alone At 16: A Journey To self - Discovery

The question of how young is too young to leave home often sparks cultural debates, and opinions vary widely. With age and wisdom, many suggest that the range of 18 to 20 may be the right time for this transition. However, this decision depends on various factors, such as the destination. Is it to live in a college dorm, become an au pair, or venture into another form of supervised independence?

For some, these intermediate steps provide a cushioned segue into adulthood, offering a certain level of supervision and safety. Yet, in a world where disturbing incidents like sexual assault persist, even these transitional phases may not guarantee a completely secure journey into adulthood.

My own departure from home was not a matter of choice; it was a survival exercise. At 15, just weeks away from my 16th birthday, I lost my father. This loss thrust me headfirst into the real world, a world I had already glimpsed due to a tumultuous family dynamic.

My parents' relationship had long been strained, although they had once shared a loving and respectful union, according to the stories. Unfortunately, I only really witnessed toxic love during my years under their shared roof.

Their separation when I was around 13 led me to live with my dad, with whom I shared an incredibly close bond. In many ways, we were mirror images of each other, which only intensified my strained relationship with my mother. She looked at me and saw my father, a man who had distanced himself from her due to her alcohol addiction and other issues that often accompany addiction.

All I ever wanted was to make both of my parents happy. As a young girl, I bent over backward to fulfill their wishes, prioritizing people-pleasing and acceptance over carving my own path. My self-esteem was so low that I never truly believed I deserved the accolades I received. When your own mother consistently rejects and mistreats you, everything else loses its value.

My father was my rock, my inspiration. While he had his flaws, my father possessed the magical ability to make life feel enchanting. He had a treasure trove of incredible life stories and never made me feel bad about making mistakes. He had a unique talent for putting everything into perspective, grounding me during turbulent times.

Then, one day, he was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer, and within a month, he was gone. Just like that, my rock, my inspiration, was gone. I was a typical teenager at the time, which only added to my overwhelming guilt and the countless questions that haunted me. I thought, "If only my dad had lived to see me as an adult, I would have been more composed and level-headed."

Shortly before his stage 4 diagnosis, teachers and the principal visited our home to kindly try to persuade me to attend school more regularly. Unbeknownst to them, in addition to my complicated relationship with my mother, I endured daily torment at my new school.

Several girls, and even a few boys acting under their guidance, made my life a living hell. These boys, in my opinion, seemed to have left their courage at home or never developed any. Nonetheless, the daily harassment continued.

I stood up for myself as best I could, but a fight against twenty against one was hardly a fair contest. I remember one of the ringleaders challenging me in front of a group of students during recess, saying, "Meet us behind the gym at 3:30pm for a fight." I responded with something like, "Are we five-year-olds? I didn't know people still spoke like that." While I had stumped her momentarily, the fight was still on.

So, that fateful day after school, I showed up prepared to take on roughly five girls. My father and brother had taught me always to stand up for myself. Despite being a year younger than my classmates I was 5'10' and a very accomplished athlete.

Bullies weren't singling out the "runt" in this case; it was more about eliminating a potential threat to their carefully crafted flock of obedient sheep. Little did they know that I had no interest in making friends with sheep or flirting with their brain-dead boyfriends. I preferred the company of the authentic black sheep in the school—the "nerds" and the "rebels" were more my kindred spirits.

After my dad's passing, I entered into full survival mode. I tried to keep my emotions in check and built a wall around myself so tall that no one could ever see through it.

I briefly stayed with my mother after my dad's death, as legally required at 15. However, this period turned out to be one of the scariest times of my life. His death became all about her, and she used it as an excuse to abuse and further self-destruct. I lived in constant fear for my life and had to once again take on the role of the parent.

Not long after, a therapist that my mother had forced me to see spoke to me privately. She looked at me with a mix of terror and pleading and said that if I spent one more day with my mother, the damage she was doing to me would be irreparable. I'll never forget the urgency in her eyes. So not long after my 16th Birthday, I took her advice and moved out.

Throughout my life, I was told, by my mother... that her awful behavior was "normal" and that I needed to "just get over it." I was led to believe that all families were like this. However, when I visited my friends' houses, I didn't witness anything remotely like what was happening in my own home.

I never got the chance to properly grieve the loss of my father because my mother seemed to steal the spotlight, and I was expected to "just move on." So, I tried. Years later, after suppressing my emotions for so long, I had a nervous breakdown, and I couldn't stop crying.

I don't believe that having to leave home at 16 did me any favors. Although I considered myself "street smart," my challenging childhood and the path I chose eventually made me an easy target. It was only recently that I learned what "grooming" truly meant, especially after the disturbing revelations about individuals like Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell.

My life has been a mix of beauty and challenge, a journey that has molded my character and led me to find my place in the world. At the tender age of 16, I set out on a path that would not only shape my character but also guide me towards finding my rightful place in this world.



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