People Who've Run Away To Start A New Life Reveal Why They Had To Leave
Move over bankruptcy and name changes. These people made themselves vanish in order to start over. But why, and how? Were they successful? Here are some fascinating tales from people who left it all to begin anew.
PatientStick asked, [Serious] People who disappeared to start a new life, what is your story?
Submissions have been edited for clarity, context, and profanity.
Working on a yacht in Tahiti? Living the dream, he is.
Currently disappearing. Got bored in the USA so I looked around for jobs on boats/yachts. I went from alcoholic construction worker to currently a deckhand on a private yacht circumnavigating the globe.
We're currently on our way to Tahiti and I'm excited.
Bail out now, tell everyone later. It's okay to focus on you.
I didn't really disappear, I just flew from the UK to Canada and didn't tell anyone until after.
I wanted a bit of time to make my mind up about what I was doing without any random emotional s*** getting in the way. My friends assumed I'd just f***ed off somewhere as it wasn't that uncommon for me to do.
Told most people where I was after about a month and 6 years later I'm still here.
Some bridges need to be burned.
Father started dating a new woman and suddenly became a massive POS. Emotional and verbal abuse, gaslighting, guilting me out of money by saying he couldn't make bills but then turning around and buying alcohol and new gadgets.. the works. I was stomaching it pretty well until it started to spread to my then 1.5-year-old son. There was one and only one incident of him going after my baby, and the very next day I was loading up a moving truck headed several states away. Thankfully I had made a good friend via an online game who opened up his home to us if we needed to escape.
Changed my number and haven't heard from my father or his gf since, though I was warned by the town sheriff that a man had been calling the police station asking about a girl from out of state that has recently moved into town, he saw my license plate and made the connection. I'll burn that bridge when I get to it.
It takes a lot of strength to do this. You don't need to stay in toxic relationships.
Here's the story. Was with someone who was emotionally abusive toward me. I let them isolate me from friends and family, moved across the country, gave up a lot to be with her. Married her, but I realized that things would likely never improve. One day I packed everything I could into a suitcase, told her it was over. I walked to the train station, got to the airport, called the police to let them know they had a potentiality suicidal person that they ought to check on and flew back home. I felt bad about it, but I'm an exponentially happier and healthier person for it.
Follow your instincts if they tell you to change your circumstances. It's not easy, but you don't get many chances happiness. Take them.
Basic breakup story I guess. I was in my early 20's and I'd been in a pretty lousy relationship for a few years (only really lousy the last 1.5 years). I'd done a lot to try and make the relationship work and it meant I was basically living paycheck to paycheck, working a lot of overtime at a bar.
Then in the space of a few months both my aunt died of cancer that was kind of expected and a family friend died suddenly, so I got in a worse place mentally and didn't have much left to put into the relationship. I was still working a lot of hours to pay our rent, but when I got home I was pretty depressed. My girlfriend was probably already pretty checked out I guess because she cheated pretty soon with a guy in our friendship group, and of course, that ended our relationship pretty suddenly. I moved in with 2 friends and she moved back to her parents.
I felt like I needed a change of scene so just started applying for jobs with loads of holiday companies and got an interview with a ferry company. By the time that came up, I was starting to move on with my life and wasn't so sure about leaving. Then I found out my ex had slept with or hit on pretty much all of my mates since we'd broken up and I decided to get out of dodge.
I never actually meant to leave and not come back or go dark or whatever. I just took the job, spent a summer working on ferries to clear my head with new people, out of all that craziness and went from there. Spent a couple of years working holiday seasons and traveling and then settled into a job and a routine elsewhere. Never looked back.
Changing your name is extreme, but it can provide closure, protection, and a fresh start.
Highly abusive family, grew up surprisingly well but absolutely bombed out of life when I turned 18. Finally got the guts up and saved a scant of money to change my name and get out of the state I lived in. Still struggling a lot, and I live in constant fear that someone will find me, but I can live a half decent life now. Still lots of psychological issues as a result of long-term traumas, but I'm on my own now and its the biggest relief
EDIT Thank you all for your support! Changing my name wasn't too tricky, I had to go in for a meeting with a Justice of Peace, and there was a fair fee (I didn't have a birth certificate because my family refused to hand it over). I was given an identity document that day and was posted my new birth certificate a week later.
This is pretty dramatic, actually.
Nothing dramatic. I left home at 16 homeless for a few months, lived with a Gf's family for a couple of years. Mum told the family that I'd stolen money so they cut all ties with me (I hadn't, my mums an arse). I stopped contacting friends because I was dirt poor and couldn't afford a phone.
Three years after I left I started using my first name (in Muslim culture every guy is bloody named Mohamed so we used my middle name for my early life). I moved to a new town newly single, got my dream job and made new friends, got in touch with the old ones and got on with my new life.
Unfortunately homophobia is still rampant in rural America.
I grew up in a tiny semi-isolated American town I'm going to refer to as Hell. I hated the place. I was bullied from the minute we moved there until the minute I left. I was above the level of the high school classes by my freshman year, but -- isolated. No other school. I've got no issue with my parents, but the majority of my extended family is extremely homophobic and would probably disown me if they didn't depend on my dad for money. I was basically just trying to hold it together until I graduated.
When I was 15, I applied to be a foreign exchange student (basically just out of desperation to get out of Hell). Left a few days after I turned 16. I was popular in my new school, I was much less of an angry person when I wasn't getting screamed at all day five days a week, it was just so much better. I was doing college applications by the end of my year there and just realized there was no way I could ever go back. I ended up going to the UK to study law. I was still getting harassed online by people from Hell, so I started going by my middle name. I'm doing alright now though.
I guess I didn't truly "disappear" because some people know where I am, but I'd basically started over twice in two different countries by the time I turned 18. I have trouble with the idea of staying in one place and my mom has to talk me out of moving every time things don't go perfectly smoothly, but I'm sure I'm a lot better of a person than I would have been if I'd stayed.
This is why we celebrate Mother's Day.
When my sister and I were young, my mom was engaged to an abusive man. One morning she dropped us off at school and said this would be our last day, make sure you say goodbye to your friends.
When she picked us up from school, we went directly to the airport and flew to California to live with some family. At the time we'd been living in Michigan.
Racism is a plague and needs to be stopped.
At 17 I had started to date my now current boyfriend of almost 6 years. It was the end of his senior year / my junior year.
-backstory- My mother is 28 years younger than my father and she left him when I was in 7th grade. My father somehow got custody. Story for another time I suppose.
Father is old, born in 1943 old. So he's also a racist. After mom split I went to school and then came home and did nothing. No summer plans, no friends, no after-school activities.
Somehow a friend of S.O. Had posted a picture of us together on Fb and my little brother got wind of it and my dad kicked me out about 2 months before I turned 18 because my boyfriend is black and I am white. I showed the school messages of him threatening to kill me and bf if he ever saw either of us. Cops got involved and deemed that I had to return to my father's house until I was 18. I obviously didn't die, made it through the last three weeks of school, attended my graduation that he wouldn't show up to and never went back. Haven't seen or heard from him or anyone from high school since. There are many more complicated details but that's the gist.
I now hold a stable job since I graduated high school, waited a year and saved up at bfs parents house, then we got our own apartment, our own car, we live frugally and save as much as we can and live comfortably below our means. We both went back to college two years ago and attend part-time because we both work 32 hours a week and I like to think that my f_cked up 'childhood' is pretty far behind me and that I'm adulting really well despite my odds.
It's not selfish to leave if your partner is beyond reproach. It is however important to help as much as they'll let you.
I left someone who regularly threatened suicide, best decision I ever made.
Addiction is a nasty disease, and in Mexico, the cartels are ruthless.
15 years ago I was a heavy drug user. I was 25 back then and before using drugs I had a good job and I was being paid well. My so-called best friend introduced me to drugs and while at first, I was hesitant to use them, I thought 'what the hell, what's the worst that can happen?'
Needless to say, I started using more and more and I was spending a few thousand every week on drugs. I started showing less for work until eventually I was fired. I had some money saved up so I wasn't too worried at first until my addiction took most of that money.
Since I always used the same dealer and had already given him thousand of pesos, he told me I had 'good credit' with him and he would give me some drugs but I had to pay him every week. So we did that and it worked for a while until I couldn't pay him every week. I started owing him more and more until eventually, he told me he couldn't give me anymore until I had money on me and could pay him. So one day I was really desperate and broke into his house late at night. I knew he had guns so I was very careful not to wake him up when I was breaking in. Once inside I grabbed a baseball bat he had and started beating him with it. I left him in pretty bad shape and took his money and some drugs I found. At the time I didn't know he was with a cartel so I pretty much stole from the cartel. They started looking for me and word on the street was that they wanted to kill me. So with the money I stole from the dealer I decided the best thing to do was to run away to the U.S. I didn't tell anybody, I decided to travel to the Tijuana and find a 'coyote' there who could pass me. 7 days later I was already in the US.
I left everything back home, my family, friends, memories but most important my addiction. When I made the choice to leave the country I told myself I wasn't gonna do drugs again since my life got out control since I started using drugs.
So yeah, it's been 15 years clean. I have an ok job and a great family here. I'm probably a wanted man by the cartel back in Mexico.
The only person who has control over your life is YOU.
Left my hometown of 10 years because I was ruining my life spending all my money on smoking and being a general loser.
I drove alone 3500+km to start new with no job, house, or money. I landed a job working in a remote community the day after I arrived at my destination, spent 3 months working there before I came back to society and started working in Disability.
Fast forward 5 years and I'm happily married with enough money for a deposit on a house, a new car I go to the gym 6 days a week and have traveled overseas multiple times with the love of my life.
Canadians are so classy, jeez.
I didn't "disappear" in terms of changing my identity or am doing anything secret. But I did disappear from everyone I knew from "back home" fairly suddenly.
I grew up in a medium-sized town in Canada. A fairly laid back city with a good university culture but not much to do in terms of anything else. I got sick of the cold winters, sick of the lack of culture, sick of the social negativity, sick of the lack of opportunity (Youth under/unemployment is a serious thing in Canada), etc.
Decided to move to Paris. Enrolled in a prestigious business school and got in. Within a month I said goodbye to friends, packed up my stuff and got the hell out.
I've lived in Paris, Milan, and parts of UK for the past 5 years and loving it. I'm making great money and because the £&€ is so high compared to the tanking Canadian dollar I can make investments back in Canada fairly easily.
My life is completely different compared to my life in Canada. I can travel to cool European cities very cheaply, enjoy interesting conversation with people from around the world, enjoy mild Winters, and a positive social environment where people root for each other.
One of the things I didn't like about living in Canada is that it was normal for people to try and tear each other down and talk behind people's back. I don't experience that here.
Edit: I'm still very proud to be from Canada and enjoy visiting family and friends. I wouldn't change my journey thus far for anything. But the Winters and lifestyle just weren't for me. Canada is still a great place. I don't mean to come across as trashing the country
This sounds amazing, honestly. Why be tied down in one place?
Haven't disappeared, but I tend to start a new life every few years.
I get bored where I am and want something new and different. New places, new experiences, new people, new things to learn.
I look for a new job, pack up, and move wherever it is, or someplace just to a new place without the job yet, but I prefer having the job lined up first. Sometimes overseas, sometimes within the same country. Preferably overseas whenever the opportunity arises.
Grew up moving ridiculously frequently and seeing a lot of different places. That's stuck with me.
Given that I can work anywhere, maybe I should do this. Who's in?
I was working a successful corporate job straight out of college for several years, and not exactly struggling but not thriving either. A series of bizarre events occurred in my personal life (and within the government...) that made me realize life is too short, too random and all too often dictated by people who don't have your best interest at heart to be stuck doing something that doesn't make you happy if it's not absolutely critical to your survival.
After mulling it over for a bit, I told friends and family I was moving overseas, quit my job, tied up loose ends and got on a plane to another country with no job and a backpack full of clothing. However, I had decent savings and am accustomed to living cheaply so I wasn't entirely unprepared.
So far I've traveled to numerous countries with old friends and relative strangers met people doing things no one was doing back home, gone on beautiful hikes through mountains, swam under waterfalls, snorkeled off multiple coasts, and so many more adventures. I live in a city where I don't need a car, I've been progressing on learning a new language, I finally figured out the direction I want to go in life and am taking active steps to get there, and I feel like I've matured at least five years in the past twelve months.
There are certainly trade-offs: instability, options for job positions, and what the foreseeable future looks like, but if I had the option to redo the last year of my life, I would make the choice to leave every time.
Remember that family isn't defined by blood, and no family is better than a toxic family. Set yourself free.
My parents divorced when I was 16. It was both of their second marriage after like 18 years or something. My mother (adoptive, nonetheless) became abusive as soon as my dad left the state. So I disappeared. I went to Atlanta, Georgia by myself. I took a taxi to New York City and took a cheap $40 Chinese bus ride down to Beaufort Highway and almost immediately found a job in tech repair. Was down there for 24 months before I moved to the same state as my dad. During those 2 years, I didn't talk with anybody in my whole family. People were concerned. I didn't care. My brother went into the Navy when I was like 12 and became a juiced up meathead douche. My sister was always controlling and verbally abusive. I can't say I'd be sad if they were gone. I filed a restraining order against my mother after she kept harassing me over text, call, and email. Best decision I ever made.
People Explain Which Fictional Characters Should Have Been Slapped With A Lawsuit At The End Of The Story
My favorite movie of all time is Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. That movie slaps, aside from the presence of the evil Grandpa Joe. But I can't help but think of the number of lawsuits that would've taken place after the movie. Despite the fact that Wonka had all of the kids in his factory sign a contract, there definitely would've been a legal case involved after a kid almost drowned in a chocolate river, right?
Luckily, I'm not the only one who speculates the legalities of fictional universes. Thanks to Reddit, we can have discussions like this without looking like a weirdo at every party you go to. Because trust me, most drunk people don't want to hear about your Golden Ticket conspiracy theories. Trust me.
Why is it that most children’s movies come with some truly awful adult characters? They would’ve been the first to be slapped with a lawsuit.
I feel like this goes for most superheroes.
"The Power Rangers, they're a paramilitary group and are (almost) never officially sanctioned to operate by their relevant municipalities. They cause massive amounts of destruction from their fights and by not warning anyone about the enemies they battle."
The poor Baudelaires.Why Do You Hate Us So Much Neil Patrick Harris GIF by NETFLIXGiphy
"Pretty much every adult in A Series of Unfortunate Events."
"Given that the in universe legal system of ASOUE allows a man to marry his adopted 13-year-old daughter, coerced by a threat to her baby sister's life, under the guise of a fraudulent play, presided over by a judge unaware she is acting in an official capacity, and absolute none of this legally invalidates that marriage and the only thing that saved Violet was a loophole that a signature doesn't count if written with one's non-dominant hand, I don't have high hopes for the Baudelaires in civil court."
Do you feel it, Mr. Krabs?
"It's still running but, I can only imagine all the labor laws Mr. Krabs has broken."
Patrick- I can get my award working for Mr. Krabs
Spongebob- Yeah and at $50 dollars an hour. When I started working here, I had to pay Mr. Krabs $100 dollars an hour.
I always thought it meant Patrick was being paid that much until I realized what it really meant.
Hogwarts was a death trap.
"Vernon Dursley from Harry Potter. Child abuse, both verbally and possibly physically."
"Also, Hogwarts would have been sued I'm certain by multiple parents on multiple occasions if it were an option in the Wizarding world. That place is a security nightmare! (credit, mugglecast for fully convincing me that security nightmare is an accurate description)."
"Cerberus chilling in a closet, basilisk wandering the pipes, ferocious textbooks that can bite, dementors wandering around, very questionable teachers including a host to Voldemort, a death eater on polyjuice, a werewolf (despite that he was a good teacher), and a ministry official that used physical (permanently scarring) punishment on students. Totally acceptable place to send your kids every year, for sure."
Weird, the movies you loved without question as a kid kinda shift your perspective as you get older.
That deleted scene would’ve helped with context.shocked jurassic park GIFGiphy
"John Hammond from Jurassic Park. His legal team would spare no expense."
"From memory, there's a deleted scene from The Lost World: Jurassic Park where that happens. It's a boardroom discussion about payouts to the families of the workers who died and to the British family that accidentally stumbled upon Isla Sorna. Because of it, the board agrees to sack Hammond and make Ludlow head of Ingen with immediate effect. Ludlow then comes up with a plan to get their money back by opening up the park in San Diego using dinosaurs from Isla Sorna. Come to think of it removing that scene kind of removes a ton of context from the rest of the film."
Hell, I wanna sue this movie for messing me up.
"The dude who ran the Truman Show"
"Funny that movie was on tv and I just watched it again. Truman would have been able to sue for hundreds of millions. Then the money and fame would get to him. I think Truman would have had a mental breakdown after leaving. He would have been one of the most famous people ever. He wouldn't understand the hounding, everyone using him wanting him to do business with them."
"Everyone knowing every single intimate detail about you. Trying to come to terms it was all fake. He would be extremely paranoid his entire life and have a complete existential crisis"
Different rules for the John Hughes universe.
"Everything that goes on with the car, hijacking a parade float, or trepassing throughout the neighborhood. Man the 80s we a different time."
It’s so wild what fictional characters get away with. It almost makes me mad, before I realize that they’re fictional and that I’ve had too much wine while bingeing these shows.
They should all be in jail.Always Sunny Fx GIFGiphy
"The gang from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia should be bankrupt from lawsuits and/or in jail by now from all the stuff they've done."
"I'd say almost 1 in 3 episodes should land one of them in jail for a couple years. With at least 1 season landing all of them in jail."
I can’t watch The Office for this reason.
"I like the episode where they hired an ex-con. He had been convicted of insider trading. Kevin later quietly confesses: 'I had him explain it to me three times. Because it sounds a lot like what I do here every day.'"
Doctors would never get away with what they do on this show.
"Every character in Grey's Anatomy."
"The amount of HIPAA violations on that show was extremely distressing I have often said I would never ever want to be a patient in that hospital."
As for Willy Wonka, I'm pretty sure the only reason why he wasn't sued was that he had to live with Grandpa Joe. And that, my friends, is a punishment worse than death
Let it be known--if you ever find yourself in a fictional universe, you can basically do whatever you want without consequences. Best of luck, and godspeed.
It's fun to sit around and pretend, isn't it?
Or maybe you win the lottery, it doesn't matter. The point is there's a lot of things you can do with a billion dollars, so with the world the way it is let's take a fun trip down imaginary lane.
What would you first do if you ever became a billionaire?
These are the people who would help the world continue running, keeping the sails on the ship and the car on the road. They spend their money responsibly, reasonably, and with caution.
Maybe a little boring, but extremely necessary.
The Bare Minimum
"Turn on double verification in my bank account"
"Bank account or bank accounts?"
Let's Put These Things In Proper Order
"Get an attorney"
"Then an accountant"
"It's so unlikely to become an accidental billionaire, but basically this, the only way to survive it is to create a company that runs your life and has multiple employees. Your attorneys, accountants, drivers and security detail. You are now the CEO of a small company that is dedicated to your safety."
Doing Things For Others As Well As Yourself
"This will sound cliche.
Take care of friends and family.
Travel for remainder of my life."
"You would be popular for taking care of your friends and it's a good thing to do, but i feel like it would get weird once the word gets out. You might suddenly find yourself surrounded by a lot of long-lost friends."
Of course, if you've been gifted billions of dollars you don't have to go down the reasonable route. Instead you could take all of your money and do something silly with it. Something obnoxious.
A Whole Lot Of Nothing
"Nothing, with that kind of money I could afford not to do anything for a while."
"Anyone with a billion dollars who is still working is a psychopath."
"Buy two senators and make them fight."
"They are surprisingly cheap; can you get a few more and let the rest of us watch?"
Start A Lot Of Beef With A Lot Of People
"I'd employ a law firm that semi-exclusively litigated my petty squabbles with the world. False advertising. Cop car paint colors. Whatever else that bothers me."
There's no explanation for these ones. They say money makes you eccentric and these people's dream purchases are proof of that idea.
Who's Gonna Stop You?
"I would never tell anyone and pull money out of my @ss when i need it."
@ss pennies do give a certain amount of confidence."
Sounds Like A YA Novel In The Making
"I'd build a Hunger Games theme park complete with an Arena and invite 24 children a year."
That's Some Fancy Ketchup, Bro
"I'd still eat Kraft Dinner but with really expensive ketchups. Dijon ketchup."
"And an emu. I bet you always wanted an emu."
Dream big. Have fun imagining your future.
Just don't dream of a death match for kids. That's probably not an ideal way to spend your cash.
Want to "know" more? Never miss another big, odd, funny, or heartbreaking moment again. Sign up for the Knowable newsletter here.
Our interactions with strangers can be pleasant – whether it's a fellow customer at a store smiling at us or talking sports or other mutual interests with a friendly bartender.
But then there are those who you just can't figure out but engage in a conversation with anyway until something in your gut tells you to abort.
Whether it's an ominous situation or a mysterious individual, your instincts telling you something is not right is usually accurate and what happens next depends on whether or not you act on what your inner voice tells you.
"What is Your Best 'I'm in Danger' Story?
These predicaments could have resulted in severe consequences. Or not.
"Driving through jasper on our way to leduc when my dad saw a family on the side of the road looking off into the bush off the side of the road. So we pull over and walk over to ask if they need any help. They say that they saw a bear in there and were throwing rocks at it to get it to come out so they could take pictures. My dad told us to get back to the car and we sped off down the highway. To this day i wonder what happened to those idiots."
"Not me, but a really close friend was going through flight school and they were going through emergency procedures and the instructor asked something along the lines of."
"What would you do if you noticed the power was lost?"
"And at that very moment, the aircraft lost power and my buddy said 'Well that's a neat trick and makes it feel real.' To which the instructor said 'No, that's not me. This is real.' Apparently, my buddy giggled and said 'oh no.'"
"And then they had to crash into the gulf and he swam away."
"I can't think of a better example than that."
The Thing In The Bushes
"When I was about 5-6, my mom and her best friend took us kids out huckleberry picking. We brought a battery power radio so we were making noise and would not startle any wildlife. We were all kind of spread out around these wild berry bushes. The adults heard this snorting, stomping, and sounds of a large animal moving through the dense overgrown areas coming towards us. They freaked out, screaming for us kids to run to them so we could run to the truck together. Moms friend threw her FULL bucket of huckleberries (5 gallon bucket, took all day to fill) at whatever was coming, hoping to distract it..."
"It was a cow."
You never know what strangers are capable of, especially where drugs are involved.
Sacrifice For The Devil
"I used to work in a group home. I was working a night shift and one of the residents was pacing by his room. I asked him what he was doing, he went into his room quickly. I assumed he was on meth since that's what he liked doing. Thought not much of it until a few hours goes by. I go to get some water and heat up my food, and he is standing in the hallway. Again, I ask him how he's doing and try to check in with him. This guy starts speaking in some made-up language in a loud whisper (think Harry Potter talking to the basalisk). He then takes like 4 steps slowly toward me then stops. He says 'I can't stop him forever.'"
"I call police for his and the the safety of the house."
"Police show up and talk to him for a bit in private. One officer comes back to my office and says 'yeeeah, he's not himself right now. Said the date was May 50, 2100.' It was January... and 2015. They took him away. They also found and took a pocket knife off of him and gave it to me for safekeeping."
"Now if that wasn't already messed up, I went back on the security footage and I saw him stand outside of my office door (outside my view) for like 30 minutes without me realizing. Standing still, like in paranormal activity."
"I checked the camera from when he was speaking the weird language, and he was standing there for like 20 minutes heavy breathing before I walked by."
"2 weeks goes by and he's released from the hospital sober and mentally present again. He decided to move out of the house. He came by to grab his stuff, and pulled me aside to apologize. I forgave him and tried to brush it off. Buddy looks me in the eyes and said that he was planning on killing me that night for a blood sacrafice since he was seeing some crazy stuff and he believed a demon was controlling him, but the police ruined his plan."
"I kept the knife as a morbid souvenir."
The following people these Redditors engaged with were very suspect. No drugs were apparently involved, but they were apparently quite mental.
"So, just for context, I'm Scottish. I was on Holiday in Durham and it was late afternoon. We just arrived and we were going to visit the Cathedral."
"So these lads (likely students, they were obviously on a night out or something) came up to me and were like 'hey do you know how to get to so-and-so street' and I was like 'sorry, I'm not from here.' Suddenly the guy got mad and was all 'are you Irish, ARE YOU IRISH?!' And I was like 'No I'm Scottish' (but I was sure I was going to get beaten up because, let's be honest, if he's like this to someone who's Irish then he'll not exactly be hunky Dory with Scots), but when I said that his demenor did a 180 and he was all 'oh right, you're cool, sorry to bother you' and walked off."
"And that's the story of when I was nearly hatecrimed because someone thought I was Irish."
"Went out for a drink with a pretty girl I got talking to on a bus. She was a bit awkward, but seemed kinda fun. She kept talking about her roommate, and the crazy hi-jinks they got up to. She even joked that we would have a threesome if I went back to her place."
"We went back to hers... at which point I found out that her roommate was a barbie doll that she talked to like it was a real person. Her place clearly hadn't been cleaned for years, and the toilet was full of green 'matter.'"
"The final straw for me was when I stepped on her cat's corpse..."
Not The Basement
"Couple of years ago I was picking up a chair I had bought from craigslist. I drove to this guys house and got a creepy vibe instantly when I stepped inside, for reasons I can't really understand to this day. After a minute or so of small talk, where he was mostly busy staring at me and not completely focused on the conversation, he asked me to follow him down to the basement where the chair supposedly was. As he went for the staircase he raised the volume of the music playing to a level that was distinctly louder than normal."
"I noped the f'k out and went straight home again."
In middle school, I was not a popular kid. So it surprised me when my fellow classmates who were viewed as "popular" actually engaged in a conversation with me during lunch when I was sitting by myself.
They asked me what my favorite food was and what TV shows I watched. I genuinely thought they were interested in me, but I was also skeptical about their forced friendliness.
My suspicions were confirmed when, in my peripheral vision, I saw their buddies dragging a trashcan over towards me.
I blurted, "gotta go!" and I darted. Those jerks were going to throw me in the garbage!
Chocolate milk hair and spaghetti sauce-drenched shirt was avoided that day, thanks to my gut instincts. Damn bullies.
Deciding to foster a child, while clearly admirable, is the furthest thing from a no-brainer. So much consideration must go into the decision to provide safety and security to a child who hasn't always had it.
Nobody has ever left a thriving, trauma-free family dynamic and found themselves suddenly plopped into the foster care system.
A child arrives there because the adults in their lives have struggled to give them what they need, be that love, nutrition, physical safety, or stable emotional environments.
So a foster parent enters a child's narrative a little after the fact. That can make the whole experience a real challenge.
Curious to learn the specifics of those challenges, Redditor RaeRai293 asked:
"People who are or have been in the foster system: What would you say to someone who is considering becoming a foster parent?"
Many people unpacked the nuanced dynamics of a well-known element of foster care: children arrive with a history of trauma.
"I had a friend growing in up whose biological parents were foster parents. I remember that when I went round I wasn't allowed alone with certain children there. We are still friends now and said that alot of children are from abusive families, physically, mentally."
"So you need to be prepared to receive children that have experienced horrific things in their life and the baggage that brings."
You Will Not Be Perfect
"Take care of yourself. You are not a superhero. If you don't remember self care (mental, emotional & physical), you will struggle."
"You cannot give from an empty cup and foster kids will drain you. They are suffering from trauma and you will feel that. Don't ignore your needs or they will suffer more."
Prepare for Some Sorrow
"It can be extremely heartbreaking. My aunt and uncle fostered a few kids. The 2 youngest girls were i believe 6 and 4 when they took them in. Their birth mother was an addict and sex worker."
"I remember once we had planned a camping trip."
"When we told them we were going camping they started hysterically crying. I later found out to them 'camping' was sleeping out in the streets."
Coming on the back of those upsetting realities, the foster parent's conduct and parenting style needs to be very deliberate.
"Regardless of how long the kid stays with you, they will remember how you treat them. Be patient, many may not understand what is happening at first. Most will be angry but even if they upset you don't let it show."
It's Not About Your Opinion
"Have lots of empathy for everyone involved. Put aside your judgments and listen. Figure out how you can best serve the kids. There is no magic pill that will help them. It takes time, therapy, patience and a lot of empathy."
Not For No Reason
"go easy on them. We dont act out because we just feel like it or hate you, we act out because we're not used to being treated nicely and in the back of our head we always know that we could be sent away any day so we might not wanna get attached too fast."
"my sister and I went into foster care when we were really young and we came from a very abusive family so we just expected every family to be like that? I'd flinch every time someone tried to touch or hug me and I still don't like it. you just gotta be very patient because you never really know what they went through"
Last, others reminded folks that the point of foster care is to provide temporary safety until the child can, ideally, return home.
For obvious reasons, that's so important for people to get straight.
Know the Goal
"The system is designed to reunify families as its first goal. If you are in it to adopt you will have conflicting priorities. If you're not, you should keep in mind that in order for a successful reunification to happen, you really need to forge a relationship with the bio parent(s) and in a sense, foster them as well."
"Almost all parents who are part of the system probably should have been foster kids based on what they grew up with. Treat the kid (s) as part of your family but recognize the pain of a parent having their child taken away. Regardless of what they did, they are probably hurting"
A Different Thing Entirely
"The goal of foster care is reunification, not adoption. I wish more foster parents understood that. You're not entitled to someone else's child, and foster care is not some free version of adoption."
"It can be a result, but the goal 99% of the time is reunification with bio parents. Also, no matter the situation, there WILL be trauma. It's not easy."
Remind Children Too
"First of all; As a foster you are part of a system trying to reunite families."
"First time children are going to be confused and frightened, reassure them that everyone, including you, is working on getting them back to their family."
"Children that have been in the system before will still be frightened, but might not show it, they may also be scared of going back to their parents."
"Each will be different and you need to adjust to their needs. Emotional and physical."
"Treat them as you treat your own child. This means feeding them the same,(and healthy foods) getting the clothes they need, making sure they get to the dentist and doctor, giving them treats/toys/fun things as well."
"Give them their own safe space."
"Allow them to make choices (which shirt/shoes do you want? Do you like this food? What meal do you want tonight, choice 1 or chose 2?) They have no control in their own lives, this helps give them some control."
"Get them a suitcase, that's theirs, that they can take with them when they move on. Most don't have one."
"Give them an allowance from the money you get for housing them and spend the rest of the money on things they need. It's for them, to help you care from them and it's not yours to vacation on or by your (bio) kid a new iPad."
"THEY WILL REMEMBER YOU FOR THEIR WHOLE LIVES. Someday you may be a horror story about their past, or you may be the one who gets remembered fondly and with love. You dammed better be the one they remember with love."
Perhaps fostering a child has crossed your mind in the past. Here's hoping this list helped you iron out your motives, concerns, and confidence level.
Want to "know" more? Never miss another big, odd, funny, or heartbreaking moment again. Sign up for the Knowable newsletter here.