The Runaway

*This story was originally written and submitted for my Reporting class. I thought to share this story on my blog because Lynn was the first person to freely open up to me about all aspects of her life. As a journalism student, I appreciate people who go out of their way to help someone out, in this case, me. There are people out there that will share their story with you, just keep interviewing :)*

Lynn Chayatanan takes her break at Stonestown Mall to visit old co-workers, and gets ready to drive to her next client’s house, where she will set goals with a child with Autism.

Lynn Chayatanan, 27, works for Class ABA, a company that provides behavioral therapy for children with Autism. She is a behavioral therapist and spends at least two hours each visit with the child, where she tries to get them to complete a goal, such as making eye contact without prompting with a toy or food. Chayatanan believes this is not a job for everyone because of how stressful it can be, but loves how rewarding the job is when she gets a child to say their name for the first time.

“You have these little victories that create a whole human being,” Chayatanan said proudly.

Chayatanan was born and raised in Pleasanton where her parents opened a restaurant, “Lux Thai Cuisine,” six months after she was born. By the age of seven, she worked side by side her parents and older brother at the restaurant. Despite looking like the picture perfect family that works together, there were problems at home, she always seemed to butt heads with her mother, her father was an alcoholic, and she said she also experienced physical abuse.

 

Chayatanan was always into fashion and cosplay, so she would make her own costumes and clothing, she really thought that was going to be what she went to college for. Her parents were always on her case about school because her brother was such a great student. She didn’t take school seriously, her parents feared she wouldn’t succeed.

In high school, Chayatanan’s mother encouraged her to take an AP course. Chayatanan took AP psychology because she thought it would be easy, but in the end fell in love with the subject. It was then she realized that she wanted to go to school for psychology.

In the summer of 2007, Chayatanan ran away from home with just $600 in her bank account. She had enough of the physical abuse that was going on at home, and was fed up with living there. She informed her family that she ran away by calling them on a “pay as you go” phone, and moved in with her boyfriend.

“This may sound cruel, but I had no fear of her not making it,” said her brother, Charlee Chayatanan. “There weren’t any doubts that she could make it.”

She decided to continue her education at Las Positas Community College in Livermore. Chayatanan couch surfed at different friends’ houses because the people she would live with couldn’t “grow up.” She said that they were stuck in the cosplay life and couldn’t take on responsibilities, and this caused her to lose interest in the cosplay scene.

Once Chayatanan was done with community college, she decided to commute to San Francisco State University and moved back in with her mother in Pleasanton. Chayatanan also picked up a barista job at Nordstrom in Stonestown Mall. By this time, her mother kicked her father out of the house, and not long after that, her father died in Thailand, and the family restaurant of 23 years closed down. All these factors made the already rocky relationship between mother and daughter a little harder.

“It was like walking on glass, not even eggshells,” Chayatanan said about moving back in with her mother.

After she graduated from San Francisco State in 2014, Chayatanan continued to work at Nordstrom where she was promised that if she stayed, she would be promoted to manager. She worked harder to get the manager position to the point where she felt overqualified, but it always seemed like she would get passed up for someone else. She thought she hit a dead end until her boss’s girlfriend asked her if she wanted to join the Class ABA Company, since she knew Chayatanan had a degree in psychology.

Now Chayatanan works as a behavioral therapist and has three Autistic children that she meets with every week. She sets up goals at each visit, and feels really accomplished when a child meets those goals.

One of Chayatanan’s greatest accomplishments was when she was at the mall waiting in line for the public restroom with a child she works with. The child looked Chayatanan in the eye and voiced that they had to use the bathroom, and even though they ended up having an accident, Chayatanan was proud that the child verbally communicated, step by step, what was going on.

Even though Chayatanan never expected to go to school for psychology, people that know her aren’t surprised.

“She’s extremely patient and expects a lot from people,” former coworker, Marie Obuhoff said. “She’s able to keep a cool head under pressure.”

It was Chayatanan’s journey that helped her realize what she wanted to do in her life. She remembers the days when she was a runaway and really needed help, and she’s happy that she can extended her help and services to children with Autism. It is bittersweet because she knows that the goal is for her not to be needed anymore once the child fulfills all the requirements.

“I’m basically a tool,” Chayatanan said. “I’ll help anyone who needs my help.”

The Forbidden Couple

Ryan and Kelly are taking a big step and deciding to move in together. This is a big step for the couple, but they aren’t getting the support they wish they had.

Ryan is Indian and his family does not approve of him dating Kelly at all let alone move in with her. They want Ryan to end up with and marry an Indian girl. For this reason they do not want to meet Kelly at all.

“I think they don’t want to meet her because at first they thought it wasn’t going to last and now they just play it off like the relationship doesn’t exist,” Ryan said. “Moving in is rough because my dad helps pay rent but we thought at some point he’d stop if we made this jump. So I was looking at ways to make more money so we’d be ok to live with each other.”

When Ryan told his parents about the move, his father was really upset. A big fight broke out between the two because his  dad was not open to the conversation of Ryan moving in with Kelly.

Since Ryan’s dad helps him pay a portion of his rent, Ryan is planning to pick up a second job to just in case his dad decides to cut him off. His mom ended  up talking to the dad and now he is fine with helping out with the rent but Ryan doesn’t want to rely on his dad and then suddenly have him go back on his word.

“I didn’t talk to him for a couple weeks but he called me the other day,” Ryan said, “But I’m still not as comfortable around him as I used to be.”

When I asked how Kelly felt that they didn’t approve of their relationship, he said that at first Kelly was bummed out that they didn’t want to meet her. But now that time has passed it’s more of a frustrated “why don’t they want to meet me.”

Things might be starting to turn around because when i asked about if his mom was beginning to change her mind he said, “Yeah she’s open to meeting her and even though she isn’t too convincing about it, she says she’s ok with us moving in.”

Hopefully with time Ryan’s mom can accept the relationship and convince his dad to accept it too.

 

 

“I made room for this love, how foolish me,” -Wale

Here on LoveYourzStory, I don’t only feature people’s love stories with happy endings. Life isn’t always a breeze where you find the love of your life on the first try. There is always going to be heart break and stories that people would rather not tell.

Luckily, Ulysses was open to sharing. He has been cheated on in 3 relationships and just can’t seem to catch on to the lies. Unfortunately, these experiences has molded him to not care about females anymore because he fears he will just get hurt.

One thing that bothers him is giving his loyalty and trust to someone who will just betray him in the end. So he doesn’t even give anyone the benefit of the doubt because he doesn’t want to waste his time.

“When I date a girl I give them all my time my energy and effort and dedication so that each time I get cheated on it just kills me,” Ulysses said. “And after a few I just can’t give anyone that much of my time because I am scared to get screwed over again… I feel if I’m going to be in a relationship they deserve all my time and love but that’s hard to do now when I’m being screwed over multiple times.”

To avoid getting hurt, Ulysses just hooks up with random girls and kicks them to the curb in the morning. He is okay with this type of living for now because he got out of a relationship over a year ago, so he’s just enjoying the single life.

Until the right girl comes along who deserves his time and loyalty, Ulysses is chillin’ and living up the bachelor’s life. And there isn’t anything wrong with that. Different situations make people switch up. He could be wallowing in his sadness, but instead he chooses to live his life. He’s not looking for anyone to complete him or fix him, he’s just doing Ulysses.

Cheering Them On

20150611_213249

Abdallah first met Gabriella on the SFSU cheer team. At first, Abdallah was interested in someone else who encouraged him to join the team. However, things kicked off for Abdallah and Gabriella 2 months later where they went to a cheerleading competition in LA and had to share a bed. On the car ride home, they sat next to each other and talked the whole way through. When they got back to San Francisco Abdallah asked if he could take her on an official date. The rest is pretty much history.

Abdallah is Filipino and Egyptian, so his father is strongly against him dating Gabriella because their religion. But Gabriella’s family is accepting of Abdallah. Her mom adores him.It was hard for Gabriella because she at least wanted his father to meet her first and then make judgement from there, but he is against the whole relationship.

While living at home, Abdallah was tired of having to be home by a certain time because of his parents’ strict rules. He told his father face to face that he was dating Gabriella, and his dad was not having it.
“So we were both taking about moving out, but not with one another,” Abdallah said. “By now we’ve been dating for a year or more. We both had our own group of people we were going to move in with but both our plans just started to fall out. Before we knew it we were the only 2 people and ended up moving in together.”

Telling his parents was not easy. His dad was furious that he was moving out, and on top of that with the girlfriend that did not share the same religion as them. His dad refused to talk to him or a few weeks, and Abdallah didn’t want to talk to him either because his dad wasn’t calm.

It has been a few months since he has moved out and his relationship with his dad has gotten better. His dad wants him to move back home, but Abdallah is on the fence because he wants to save money if he were to move back home, but the couple both feel like it would be a step back from all the progress they accomplished already.

Abdallah and Gabriella are both totally in love with each other. So whatever happens with the living situation, they are confident they will make it work.

When I asked Abdallah what he would do if his parents never accepts the relationship and are not supportive in the future if they want to get married he said, “If I want to marry her, I’m gonna marry her.”

The Workout

Chris Barous is a Skyline student that frequently works out at the gym. His love for fitness originated after the break up with his long time girlfriend.

After Chris’s deployment in the Army, he moved to the Bay Area to be with his girlfriend. He left everything he knew in Florida, the place where he grew up. Chris told me that he didn’t know anyone else in the Bay Area besides his girlfriend, who then turned into his ex girlfriend.

Chris thought the gym would be a great outlet to let out all of his stress and get his mind off of the break up. He thought the first step would be to work on his appearance, to build his self confidence again.

Working out not only makes him feel good health wise, but also on the outside. He stays and works out at the gym on average from 1-2 hours everyday.

One word of advice that Chris had to offer me was: “Don’t move anywhere for anyone. Make sure it’s for you and not just for the other person. Don’t make the same mistake I did.”

 

 

Family Business

Most parents want what is best for their children. When you’re young and dating, your parents’ say can have a big impact on how the relationship goes. For instance, how late you can stay out, if they like your partner or not, or if they’ll even let you be with someone.

This is the struggle of my best friend April Padua. I basically grew up with April. We went to the same school from kindergarten to 8th grade, but became good friends from 4th grade to present day. Since I’ve known her for so long, it seems like we went through the same stages together. I know every major event that has happened in her life as she knows mine. Our parents make small talk with each other every now and then and our moms sometimes carpool together.

In high school April’s aunt made her tell her parents that she had lost her virginity to her now ex boyfriend. I was so scared for her, knowing how awkward that probably is, especially since her parents are very overprotective and won’t let her have freedom.

It’s that kind of relationship where “whatever I say goes because I’m your parent.” For instance, April isn’t going to school because her parents want her to pursue nursing or the police academy. So she feels like it’s pointless to go to school for something she doesn’t even want to do. She wants to go to school for Cosmetology, but her parents think it’s useless because that’s not “where the money is.”

When April told her parents, surprisingly they didn’t react the way we thought. I thought it was going to end in tears and possible disowning, but they were calm about it. They didn’t let her go out much with him though, but it was still more freedom than she expected. When things with her ex hit the fan, it was all bad. Her parents didn’t want her to see him anymore. Her ex was constantly texting her dad to let him see her, showing up at her door at all hours of the day to try to talk to her, and black mailing her.

At the end of the day, she respected her dad’s wishes and ended it for good. She’s now in a different relationship, and her parents are in the way of her having a “normal” life. She has to ask me and  her other friends to cover for her when she’s out with her new boyfriend because she feels like she can’t be open with her parents and tell them. Her and her boyfriend met at work and if me or her friends can’t cover for her, the only time she gets to spend with him is their lunch breaks at work. May I remind you all that she is 21. Her dad drops her off and picks her up from work to make sure she’s where she says she is.

This is causing problems in her new relationship. Her boyfriend feels like she isn’t making an effort to hangout with her. He knows she has parents that don’t let her have freedom, but he doesn’t know to what extent. He acts like it is easy for her to just lie and get away with it, but it really takes planning. It has to be a certain time, because Filipino parents tend to look out the window to see who is picking you up. She tries to go out when her dad’s at work and her mom’s asleep, if not, the opportunity is gone.

“I’m honestly so used to all of this that it doesn’t even bother me anymore,” April said. “But in my head I’m just like, ‘if my relationship is hidden like this and based on lies, is this even gonna be a relationship that’s gonna workout?’ He thinks I don’t try and I do. It’s really not easy. I’m trying to please him and be able to see him but I hate lying too. I’m torn. It sucks I’m 21 and my life’s still unfair, you know?”

I feel for my friend. We used to complain about not getting freedom when we were in high school. Luckily as I got older, my parents got more lenient. My mom is happy when I come home at midnight on a school night. For April, her parents still treat her like she’s in 6th grade.

She understands that her parents are just trying to look out for her. But it is not just for the fact that she’s in relationship and can’t go out. It’s much deeper than that. She feels like she has no control of her life. Her parents caused an atmosphere of resentment. I feel bad that she has to sneak around and put her life on hold because what she wants to do with her life isn’t getting the approval of her parents.

April feels like nobody gets her relationship with her parents. Her dad is so overprotective of her and her mom goes with whatever her dad says. But it’s true. As much as I want to say I know how she must feel, I really don’t. I can relate to some extent but I don’t know the pain she feels when she feels trapped. She learned to bite her tongue and doesn’t even bother to talk back or say her side when she’s getting lectured because she knows it won’t make a difference.

Just recently April’s aunt told her dad about her new boyfriend. Her dad didn’t confront her about it yet, and I’m hoping for good outcomes. She deserves to be happy, experience life while she’s still young, and make mistakes for herself.

To April: I know you’re reading this and feeling a little bummed out. I know one day it’ll get better for you. I know you feel like you’re stuck and sad that you’re 21st birthday is coming up soon and your parents still won’t let you do anything. I hope one day you get the courage to pursue Cosmetology because it’s your life and career. Okay I’ll text you back now. lol.

 

 

Emotional Abuse

“Jo” has been one of my best friends since high school. We sat next to each other in every class we had together senior year, and that made us especially close. From getting yelled at in our cooking class for eating butter, being totally lost in physics class, and asking a police officer to take “gangster” pictures of us in the back seat of the police car when they came to our school- she’s been the friend that always knew what to say and always understood me. Especially when I was going through an emotional abusive relationship, she knew exactly how I felt… and that’s because she was in the same boat as me.

An emotional abusive relationship can be hidden from others very well. Unlike a physical abusive relationship that can leave scars, bruises, and in other words evidence, being emotionally abused gets you from the inside. The abuser tries to control you and uses fear and your insecurities against you. The sad thing is, “Jo” and I thought it was normal. We thought it was just fights and boyfriends were supposed to act like that. We didn’t see the signs until we were at rock bottom.

Each day it was a new problem for us. One day it was me crying, the next day it would be her. There never seemed to be a day where we were both happy. Even though we were in different situations, the verbal and emotional abuse was all the same. We knew exactly which profiles to click on to find the information we needed to get. One time she even sent me a screenshot picture of a tweet asking me to examine the granite tabletop and ask for my opinion if it was her boyfriend’s cousin’s place or not because his ex had posted the picture. It was small things like that that made us feel like we were crazy.

We were constantly feeling horrible about ourselves because they would try to keep us down to control us. Her now ex would be hanging out with other girls, and would only keep her around when it was convenient for him. He was never consistent and always felt differently towards  her day to day. My ex would call me fat every chance he could get so I’d feel so ashamed of myself that I’d consider myself lucky to  have him. We were smart girls falling for mind games of little boys.

“I had low confidence and took his BS because I was scared to lose him,” “Jo” told me as I asked for her approval to write this blog post. For about 4 years she dealt with her ex’s inconsistency and verbal/ emotional abuse. There was a time where she had to tell one of his new girls to back off. This lead to the new girl’s family over reacting and trying to file charges on “Jo”. It was our first ever Christmas party (which is now an ongoing tradition for the past 4 years) that we planned with us girls. “Jo” got a call from the police saying she had to come in for questioning. It was situations like that that made her insecure. The fear that her ex would leave her for someone else. He made her feel so low of herself, always calling her stupid and annoying, that lead her to be even more insecure. She didn’t like the way she looked and didn’t think she was attractive, so the fact that she had him by her side made her feel better. She didn’t want to lose him, even if she wasn’t being treated right.

I remember thinking to myself after a fight and trying to justify why I should continue in a relationship that made me miserable, “ok… think of 3 reasons why you love him…,” It took a while until I realized I couldn’t think of 1 reason. “Ok,” I thought again, “one thing you at least like about him… just one,” …Nothing. At that exact moment I knew I was done. Years of being put down left me with no positive thoughts of him, 3 years and I couldn’t think of one thing.

A switch flipped in our heads during the time we first started college. I thought to myself “this isn’t high school anymore, I’m over it. New school, new beginning,” and started the process of removing the one negative person that was bringing me down for 3+ years. “Jo” was doing the same, except it was her ex who was calling it quits. But regardless if she ended it or if he did, I was happy to see that my best friend was making moves to become a better her and recover. She was with him for 4+ years and in the end of it, she lost herself. We both did. We went through it together, and we got over it together.

When we talk about it now, we laugh. Though emotional abuse isn’t funny, we just like to consider ourselves lucky. We got out of it successfully and sometimes other people aren’t as fortunate.

A little over two years has passed. “Jo” and I have now found ourselves with different people who actually treat us right. School, work, and life  has gotten in the way, and “Jo” and I can’t hangout as much as we used to. We used to text everyday, but now fill each other at least once a week. I never miss the opportunity to tell her that I’m so happy that she has someone that has been with her for over a year and is still all about her. He’s honest, loyal, and so respectful to her, her family, and her friends. Every time I update “Jo” on a story that happened regarding my boyfriend, whether it  be story that’s funny, random, etc., she never fails to voice her opinion on how she loves the way he treats me and how he’s a good guy. He’s gained the respect of my friends- the ones that really knew what I was going through- and my girls are not easily impressed! I now can confidently say that I have it good- but that’s another blog post ;)!

So there is a  happy ending to this unfortunate double story. Like I said, some people aren’t so fortunate. Click here to learn more on what you can do to get out of an abusive relationship.

Through the abuse, the break ups, the rebuilding, the new beginnings, and new found happiness, “Jo” has been by my side. I never had to go through it alone.