The One Who Ran Away

            When a relative or family member just abruptly leaves, there is a period of adjustment that the rest of the family must go through. If you’re close to this relative, then you go through stages of hurt, grief, anger, longing and denial before eventually accepting their departure and picking up the broken pieces they left behind, to move on.

            I haven’t said anything to very many people, because for a while I wasn’t too sure how I felt about it, and also because I didn’t feel like it was really anybody’s business—but in September my sister made the decision to run away from home—to the great state of Texas where she insists life is just perfect.While my sister and I weren’t especially close to one another, there was a fleeting feeling of being hurt that she’d just leave her family to go live with people who 1) aren’t biologically related to us, and (2) are practically strangers. The ease in which she managed to toss us aside for people who she felt were better for her, was shocking. She shoved the lot us to the side as if we were old news, going for what looked to be the better life, and that did in fact hurt. But that feeling quickly faded into irritation and anger—how dare she make the decision that living at home for free, receiving a  free education, free food, clothes and transportation, plus a bed to sleep on, weren’t enough for her. My sister has always been attracted to the “leisurely” life if you will—a large house, fancy cars, ability to eat whatever, whenever and wherever she wants, little to no chores ,shopping for as long as she wanted, etc. That’s not how life is up here, we live in a cozy home with eight people. Three of us are actively working and two of us go to school, so transportation availability depends on everyone’s schedules. Chores are mandatory and school is an obvious necessity with the expectation that you will pursue a college degree. There are no fancy vehicles, only practical ones to fit our family size and with so many people in the house, there is a budget which limits shopping, and unless you buy it, you don’t get to eat whatever and whenever you want to. While to most people that doesn’t exactly sound like a hard-knock life to live, to her, it did. She felt her brothers were too loud and obnoxious and claimed she needed her own space to be herself in and said she just didn’t fit in. We are a Christian household, which means that certain types of music and shows aren’t allowed—there are exceptions to that, once you hit 18 years of age, you can watch whatever and listen to whoever you want, just make sure the younger siblings don’t get exposed to anything that would be considered unacceptable. This also was not a rule she felt she should be required to abide by, and because of this she often would express to my parents how she would always be their little disappointment because she likes the secular music and racier movies and shows, she played the “victim” card often. There were other little things that she felt she couldn’t live with anymore, none of which, in my mind, seemed like reason enough to run away from home. As far as I am concerned, if your life isn’t in any danger, you have no reason to ever run-away.

            I have my Mother and my Grandpa’s mentality of sorts, you work for everything you have, give everything your 100%and remain grateful for anything and everything you receive because you could very well wind up with nothing at all. By running away she said she wasn’t grateful for anything she had, nor was grateful for the family she had—and that pissed me off.

            Then the accusations started coming—you guys never loved me—nobody ever paid attention to me—I had to do all the work—you treated other siblings better than me—nobody wanted me there—were a few she spouted, along with others that got progressively worse and worse as she went on. She did her best to make our family look like uncultured monsters, and her the innocent victim who had no choice but to leave. The accusations and ridiculous text messages I began to receive are what pushed me over the edge—I expressed that after all that, should she ever return, I’d not welcome her back or claim her as a sister of mine, at that point I felt nothing but intense anger towards her. She had her “new family” and she could stick with them and they could keep her since they seemed to feel they were such a perfect fit for her.  The accusations continued to roll in for a while, along with hateful texts and messages, eventually numbers were blocked and the messages stopped.

            The irritation remained, but it also started to melt into concern—she was always the Velcro kid, she couldn’t even spend a week at our Grandparents house without calling incessantly because she missed home and would eventually wind up coming home early in tears. Now she was over a 1,000 miles away with people she thought she knew, but really didn’t. After all the chaos and hurt she caused, she couldn’t call our Mom to come pick her up and she definitely couldn’t return home. She was stuck where was at, for better and worse. While I was not pleased with my sister, I didn’t really wish any true harm to befall her, and I felt a bit of worry about her well-being while down there.

            Life does eventually go on, you pickup the pieces and just keep going, which is what we all eventually did. There are still times where it feels weird, like upcoming holidays and her birthday approaching as well. Each person will react differently to her not being here, but everyone will find it within themselves to just keep going. I think the hardest part of this whole thing will be not holding a grudge or nurturing any resentment. The time it will take to forgive her will be a long and slow process. The fact that she hasn’t apologized, but instead says we should be sorry to her, will make the forgiveness process that much more difficult. There will always be a sense of hurt and mistrust that will be felt when having any interaction with her, and I imagine there shall always be that brief flicker of anger, like an ember that hasn’t fully gone out, whenever she’s mentioned in conversations—but life goes on. You can either choose to move on with it, or choose to get stuck where you are, held in place by anger, resentment and hurt feelings.  You will question at some point whether or not there was truth in what she said, were you really not good enough? Was she really mistreated? And the answer to those questions and any-other questions should be “No”. It’s can be a hard journey, but it’s one you can make, and when it feels like you can’t go on, fall back into the arms of Jesus and pray.

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