Not that long ago, there was a little girl, struggling with trying to understand why her daddy wasn’t seeming to care whether or not God had spoken to her, or why he insisted he knew her heart. She didn’t understand how not agreeing or understanding her dad equaled disrespect and dishonor. She didn’t understand why her mom continued to let her dad manipulate her mom. I was that little girl.
I was the “perfect” oldest daughter of nine, submitting to the authority of her parents, not questioning, nor seeking my own way. I read all of the books I was supposed to read, agreed with everything, and only talked with those who I agreed with. I honestly was quite a pushover and I remember many times of having conversations with some of the older girls I knew and wondering where they came up with their stuff. I remember thinking that they seemed so weak, and almost like robots. But then, I was wrong, of course, because they had all of their scripture verses to back their stances up, and I can’t argue with God! Right?!
I remember one particularly interesting conversation with a friend of mine. She is also the oldest of her family, and extremely pro-Vision Forum, Patriarchy, and Quiverfull ideas. Like, extremely for it all. Or at least was, when I last saw her. I had become very weary of living at home, I was 18, had a job, and had been offered a place to stay with some friends, so I was seriously considering moving out. I hadn’t told my parents, but I knew they weren’t going to be happy. I had also, around this time, really started wondering if I really had things right. I had that nagging little voice in the back of my heart that kept saying something’s off. I just didn’t know how to respond to that feeling, or how to answer for the uneasiness I constantly felt. So when I told my friend that I was planning on moving out, and that’s what I felt like God was telling me to do, she immediately told me that that’s not following God, and that a daughter was supposed to remain at home under her father’s authority. I totally did not agree, but I didn’t know how to disagree. I had no idea why I didn’t agree either, other than feeling that was what robots did, and I was no longer willing to be the quiet, mechanical daughter. I felt frustrated when I expected her to be sympathetic, and understanding. She brushed off my tears and aching heart when I explained how I couldn’t handle life at home anymore. She told me that a good, Godly daughter stays at home under her father’s authority (and she quoted some obscure verse from the old testament) and told me I should stay home. I got off the phone call feeling very confused and not understanding where she was coming from. I also knew that I didn’t agree, but I didn’t know how I disagreed, but I knew I did, but I almost agreed because she was very convincing. Yeah, messy. She even told me that she didn’t know why I was thinking about moving out since her and I believed the same things. Uh, no, I just had never told her that I found “So Much More” to be so much crap, or how I didn’t agree with what a daughter’s place was in the home, or how important family was above everything else.
That year was really frustrating for me. I had support from good people about moving out, but at the same time, I had too many people opposing me, and convincing me of otherwise. My parents convinced me that it would be incredibly damaging to my siblings if I left, and besides, how was I could to be able to provide for myself since I didn’t have a car. Because I didn’t know how to argue against them, and because I still didn’t have much of a spine, I went with it. But it was under protest, and wasn’t something I enjoyed. I remember feeling manipulated but so unsure of how to fight it. Oh the tears, the heaviness in my heart, the ache of wanting something more and to escape from the prison home had become. I was the strong one, I kept my siblings together. I protected them, the best I could, from my dad’s rampages, and yet, I was losing it. I seriously felt like my legs were melting beneath me, and I could no longer stand strong and steady. I even broke down twice in two years, and asked friends to come pick me up. Towards the end of that year, I got up from the dinner table in the middle of my dad yelling, and I walked out. He yelled after me that I should just go, because that’s all I ever do, I run away from my problems. I couldn’t handle it anymore.
I was done.
About 6 months later, he kicked me out, and told me that he was sick and tired of dealing with me. Oh, and roughly a year and a half after my parents told me that moving out would harm my siblings, I was being told to move out because I was a bad influence on them. Serious contradiction. I still couldn’t enunciate what it was that I disagreed with, or why, or how to back up what I didn’t agree with. But I knew I was tired of emotionally shutting down and not facing the heartache, pain, or confusion. I couldn’t keep living like that. But I did not know how to fix it.
It took about a year after getting married and no longer living under my dad that my emotions started waking up. It helped having a very good friend to talk with who was a few steps ahead of me and was able to at least help me start figuring things out. then I kept hitting the wall. I didn’t really know what I believed anymore; did I really know the difference between my dad’s hypocrisy and God’s truth? I stopped reading my bible because I was done with being legalistic in how I read it. I stopped going to church because I felt like I was suffocating there. It didn’t help I was in a mega church, and with more than 2500 people surrounding me each Sunday, I found it so overwhelming. My husband, having grown up in this mega church, has had a bit of a hard time trying to understand what I’m working through as I unravel my past. He’s been a dear about it, but I’ve reached the point where I feel I can no longer attend this church, without serious consequences to healing from my past.
I am slowly learning how to deconstruct all of the difficult teachings about purity, raising a family, homeschooling, doctrine, importance of family, submission, and such that I was taught growing up. I am slowly figuring out what I agree with, what I don’t, and what I simply don’t know enough yet to make a decision one way or the other. Reading various blogs has helped, and I find it so fascinating and helpful having others write about what they have been through, how they are growing, and what they believe now, and why. It is such a relief to know that I’m not alone, and even though I have a long hard road ahead of me, I know that I have people who are willing to help, and will not judge me for whatever I decide, or whoever I become at the end of this. I know there are those out there who have been hurt by legalism, and patriarchy, and I am eager to join their ranks in figuring out how to heal from the pain. It’s a hard process, and a scary one, to be perfectly honest. My whole “belief system” is in question, and the rock I stood on is getting smaller and smaller. but that’s okay, I am not alone.
With that in mind, and without further ado,