I was awake in the middle of the night recently, unable to sleep, which is of course when my mind starts running full bore. For some reason, my mind when back to something I did in high school, something that has stayed with me ever since in certain ways.
I was a senior in high school. I had my first serious boyfriend. I had just gotten the lead in the school musical, Sandy in Grease. Great year, right? Wrong. I hated my life. Always the insecure one, high school was a terrible time for me. And then, when that year I was placed in a lot of classes with the popular kids I so feared and hated, life was miserable.
I don’t remember how it all started, but I know that one night I told my boyfriend that I was tired of it all and just wanted to get out and be an adult already. I think I insinuated running away and he got mad at me and talked me out of it. But a few nights later, he called me and said, “Let’s do it.” I don’t remember why except that maybe he had a fight with his parents – his father was a mean SOB.
We told a couple friends, who amazingly never told our parents, and we took off the next morning, me with what little I was taking in a pillowcase. I left a note for my mom in the mailbox but I don’t remember what it said. (I have a lot of memory issues from childhood to early adulthood). We drove a few hours away to where he had some friends; we probably had about $400 between us. Honestly, I don’t know what the hell we were thinking. When we got to his friend’s house, his mother was there and she talked my boyfriend into calling his mother to let her know where we were and that we were okay. He did – his dad got on the phone and told him that if we didn’t come home, he would report my boyfriend’s truck as stolen by us. To this day, I can’t imagine doing that to your own child. So, we started home. I ended up covered in hives from the stress of it all; my mother would later say she barely recognized me.
On the way back, we were on the freeway and I suddenly realized we were heading straight for a cement guardrail. I looked at my boyfriend and it was like he was in a trance! I started screaming his name over and over in those few seconds before we hit that guardrail head on. It spun us back into traffic, we hit a few other cars and came to a stop in the middle of the highway. I remember the silence as I tried to figure out if we were alive. Everything was in slow motion. We were facing traffic and as I lifted my head, I think I was in a little bit of shock. My foot was sore and a little bloody but I thought I was okay. I looked at my boyfriend, remembering him heading straight for the guardrail and I had no idea if it had been an accident or if he had just tried to kill us.
My memory takes a large jump from there. I don’t remember getting out of the vehicle, I don’t remember the police or other people. My memory picks back up at a payphone a police car had driven us too. We had to call someone to come and get us because the truck was totaled. He knew we couldn’t call his parents and I knew I had to call mine. I don’t remember the call or where we waited the 3 hours till my parents could get there. I remember snippets of the ride home but not much. I know that my dad was angry and my mom, concerned.
My memory picks up again once I was home. It was late a night and my whole family was there. I told my mom I would not go back to school – I couldn’t face everybody. She and my high school counselor got my into independent study. Within a day or so, my boyfriend broke up with me – he said he couldn’t get over what he had done. My god – did he try to kill us? He would never admit it, only saying that he couldn’t take the guilt.
Jump forward to graduation day and I wasn’t there – I ended up two units short and couldn’t graduate with my class. And it was all my fault that I came up short, I take responsibility for that. It was the first of many huge mistakes in my life, mistake I would make even though they were influenced, perpetuated even, by the actions of others, by the abuse of my childhood.
In thinking about all this, I am trying to remember WHY! I was smart, mature for my age and yet I made a terrible, stupid decision in running away. And I honestly do not remember why I felt that life was so bad that I needed to run away. Neither my boyfriend nor I were bad people, we never got into any trouble prior to our mistake. I think we were just bad for each other, toxic in each other’s lives. And I will never know for sure if the accident was intentional, but I have my suspicions.
I know that the abuse of my childhood affected me in many ways I hadn’t realized back then. I look back on that day that we ran away and I can’t even remember that girl, it’s like she was someone else, someone outside of me. I ended up with severe whip lash that never got treated and would cause me great pain when I got older. I will never remember the whys and I honestly don’t even know why this was so in my mind the other night. We all have a past, things we wish we could change. I just wish we could understand them a little better. I jut wish my memory actually worked. I just wish…