Without going into a lot of detail, I left home when I was 13 years old. I primarily stayed with a friend and his family until I graduated high school, at which time, my friend and I got a place of our own. When I look back, this was a pivotal time in my life that would change me for many years to come; some for the better, and some, not so much.
Here are a few ways that decision, and the circumstances leading to it, changed me, for better and for worse:
I learned to look out for myself at an early age. I became very independent and remain that way to this day. I live by the mantra, “if I want a job done right, I’ll just do it myself.” From a young age I have been making tough life decisions and earning my own way. I put more into the world than I take out of it.
On the other side of that coin, I learned to distrust people. Until I matured in life, I assumed most people had ulterior motives for engaging in a relationship with me. I always saw others through the lens of a hurt young boy that was not protected by the people that should have loved him the most. It took a long time to get to the place where I assumed the best in others. (After reading this, it is easy to make the assumption of abuse. To be transparent, I never suffered any physical abuse. The trouble that I suffered was verbal and emotional.)
I have become a protector of people. One thing that stirs a fire inside me is to see someone mistreated. I am quick to come to others defense. I have no tolerance for people that are unkind to their fellow man. I assume this part of who I am comes from not having an advocate of my own, and I never want others to feel like they are powerless to stop someone that is mistreating them.
On the other side of the coin, I was insecure even into adulthood. In my 40’s now, I still find that I have to fight against insecurities that stem from my childhood. By the grace of God, I know my value and I am confident in the person I have become, but now and again, that scared little boy wants to come to the surface.
I learned to push forward through uncertainty. Many times in my life as a teenager and young adult, I did not know where my life was going, and I did not have answers to difficult problems. In spite of that, I knew I wanted a better life than the one I came from, so each day, I just put one foot in front of the other, and I marched on. I did each day, what I needed to do, regardless of how I felt or how uncertain life was.
On the other side of the coin, I lacked a compass for my life. I did not know where I was going or why. I was just running. Not running towards anything, but running away from my dysfunctional childhood life. While I grew up fast and I seemed to be more responsible than most people my age, I had no purpose for living. I was in my mid twenties before I found real meaning for my life. To this day, I regret having wasted so much time.