Category Christianity

73 posts

School and C-PTSD

When I started this semester I knew that C/PTSD was something that counted as a disability that I could get help for on campus. I didn’t (still don’t) know exactly what the Disability Services Dept. could do to help, but I was going into specifically a non-emotional-labor intensive program in hopes to avoid the obvious minefields. So I figured I’d be fiiiiine.
 
 
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So the last post I wrote was read by a bunch of Laney staff because they saw my proposal flyers to get students thinking about the future of Laney instead of its destruction. A lot of the people on the list were really nervous about it so I chimed in to de-escalate and clarify my intentions. Out of nowhere this one person who works in the library (the coalition on campus is run largely by library staff, apparently) reignited it by being needlessly aggressive, hostile, and dehumanizing towards me because of my trans-ness.
The library technician interrogated my intentions, barely veiling the ask “who put you up to this?” because apparently having a different opinion than some of the opaque players at school is some kind of crime, and once he realized I was trans (by everyone calling me he), decided to actively misgender and dehumanize me by calling me a “he/she”. After I corrected my pronouns, he sent out another email identifying me as her. This is gender violence that I’m pretty sure violates Laney’s non-discrimination policy, however, there is no Title IX person to report this man to. He said this on an email where all of his bosses saw it as well, so I assume that the head librarians are fine with this, as no one has indicated otherwise to me.
So I’m in a position right now, where because of a minor disagreement with some of the Laney faculty and the needlessly violent reaction from one of their staff, the one place with a “safe space” symbol on campus is a place I do not feel safe.
I skipped school last week because after hours of being patronized to like a child who was incapable of having their own thoughts outside of group-think, culminating in being dehumanized and banned from the email group for politely clarifying my stance which was apparently too far opposite The Coalition, I was so disassociated I barely knew where my body was in space.
My crime, AGAIN, was that I had a different way of organizing and posted a flyer that in no way mentioned the coalition at Laney. The only thing I did was take responsibility so people working at Laney didn’t waste energy being worried about something they didn’t need to worry about.
If you’ve been reading here long you probably have an idea of the mines that exploded when that went down because this last week has emotionally mirrored my childhood church experience in more ways than I want to acknowledge and I have had debilitating back pain since Monday because that is how CPTSD works.
My therapist is out of town this week so all of this is living in my body right now and I’m trying to process everything and get the anxiety out of my back so I can exist without being in total agony again. It’s hard to physically write shit on paper when my right shoulder is too tense to move. So everything is about to be dumped here, proceed with caution.


School is like church, and churches are basically loose cults. I’ve spent so much time in cults and cult like environments. I didn’t anticipate school being so churchlike and authoritarian. After being admonished and patronized to for hours over email, I was given a chance to redeem myself (while being cautioned to take heed[of???]) which was probably meant with good intentions but because of my past experience with loaded language, really just made the following trauma spiral that much worse.
Take Heed and Redeem Yourself are two VERY SPECIFIC phrases that go to very specific places in my brain and definitely contributed to the two-day spiral where I was so out of my body I could barely function.
There’s no way for people to know these things. I don’t fault them. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t have a world of fallout to deal with internally because people decide injecting cultish christianity into their day to day with other people is fine and dandy.
Religious Trauma is A Thing and I have it mixed in with CPTSD and depression.
I’ve been going between depression/despair and anger at all of it.
It’s been hard to acknowledge and accept the various tolls that CPTSD takes on me in relation to being in school. Like, being too disassociated to function and therefore not in a good place to be machining or welding, or being in too much physical pain to move (because stress decided to manifest itself into a knot in my shoulder) and unable to focus enough to even attend class.
These are the things that kept me home half of the last two weeks. I sometimes feel ridiculous or petty for seemingly innocuous things taking so much out of me. But I can’t help that. I can’t help that when someone tells me I should do something to redeem myself I get sent back straight into my childhood where everything was life or death, where I had been kicked out of communities for minor disagreements. I can’t stop my brain from making those connections. I can’t will my past to not exist and to not excruciatingly impact my present and future. I can only roll with it and hope I come out better on the other side.
I didn’t expect school to hit so much of it though.


The other thing I’m coming to grips with is the feelings of being on campus now, after that one person from the library just started attacking my character and dehumanizing me out of nowhere. I don’t feel safe going to the library, even though probably I wouldn’t be hurt – something about knowing that there are library staff who don’t see me as human because we had a minor disagreement and they know I’m trans, just terrifies me and makes me not want to be anywhere near where they could be.
I never really understood what it was like, to have this social problem in this setting. Like, it seems impractical to not go to the campus library for two years. But my lizard brain just screams danger loudly when I’m on campus now and it’s a lot. I feel powerless, even though I know I’m not. There’s just so much that feels familiar that I know isn’t, but convincing myself that school is different from church after being beaten over the head with authoritarian organizers makes it a lot harder.
I have a lot more nuanced thoughts on a lot of things and keep going back and forth between writing about the stadium more and having literally no spoons and wanting nothing to do with it because fuck everything.
I guess I could have been less harsh about the coalition’s points needing work – maybe couched it more – but I stand by my points. There are legitimate reasons to oppose the stadium, a lot of the things listed are not any of them. I think whatever happens needs a lot of care and nuance in the implementation.
I think what I really want to do is write about how loaded the word gentrification is and why it’s really bad at describing what problems are, and makes solving it that much harder.
Simultaneously, I just want to crawl into a hole forever.


I got my schedule for the next semester and I’m coming to grips with having less free time than I do now. A lot of that is accepting that this means I won’t be able to do any activism work for a semester and that I can’t use it as a tether to outside reality anymore and it’s terrifying.
I think there’s a part of me that’s worried that the little place I carved for myself in organizing where I make magic happen won’t be there when I get back? Writing this out though, I’m fairly certain that’s not how it works nor is likely to go down.
My life has a lot of overlap – my social/hobby/organizing lives are almost a circle which is super convenient. Everyone is generally in one or two (mental) places so I can keep track of things easily. This is the first time I’ve had like a real set of meatspace friends that I do things with on a regular basis. It didn’t…occur to me that I could have more than like, one set.
Because why would it? I’ve never been here before. This is the part where the inherent isolatory nature of my homeschooling experience comes to bite me. It didn’t really occur to me that I didn’t have to choose. Like, all my not-school friends and family won’t suddenly disappear if I get sucked into school for a while…it’s not like getting kicked out of church and people stop talking to you.
So I don’t really have to be worried that I will lose access everyone I care about if I allow myself to be entirely consumed by school…which has sort of been an anxiety I’ve had and haven’t wanted to admit to.
 

On Kindness and Transphobia [TW]

Someone from my past emailed me a few times this week. Claiming they were good listeners and wanted to have a relationship, “one soul to another”.


They then sent two emails following that, The first, on valentine’s day, defending my parents by saying they were merely imperfect and I’m overreacting about the abuse I suffered at their hands. The second, this morning, telling me that I will regret being trans and we should have an open discussion about my identity.


I told her to kindly fuck off, and she didn’t understand why I was mad and unkind.


When you start off a conversation with someone by saying their lived experience and identity isn’t valid, you lost the pretense of kindness and politeness and the benefit of the doubt. It doesn’t matter how “nice” you are when you say people are wrong for existing, it isn’t nice, it isn’t kind, it isn’t polite, and you deserve nothing less than the full wrath of whoever you told that to.


I’ve translated today’s emails so you see what I hear when I read this.

I asked her not to contact me after the first email. For someone good at listening, she doesn’t seem to understand boundaries. And this is a real-life example of how you don’t have even footing against people who spend their time dehumanizing you.


The reason I am posting this is because it helps me to dissect it and show you what I hear/see when people send me things like this and how cruel and dehumanizing it is. How pointless it is to try to convince them of my validity when they start from the place of trying to convince me not to be who I am.


I am kind, but I will not rollover for abuse, I will fight back, and then I will post the shit and explain what it is for everyone to see.


If you start off disregarding people’s existence as valid, you have waived your right to any benefit of the doubt and subsequent kindness.

I’m not even going to unpack how cruel that first email was in the first place, anyone who isn’t cis understands that by default and anyone who is cis, should go read about transphobia and how it effects people. I’m sure someone in the comments can get you started, but also google.

I Kissed Dating Goodbye, Said Hello to Courtship, Met a Boy, and Got Married

My parents said they wanted to talk to me one day. I was like 8 or 10 or something innocuous and the thought of boys and kissing was still gross (ew, spit). They said that they decided I wouldn’t be allowed to date, that I would court instead. I said okay, having no idea what this meant and being decidedly not into boys because they ruined my horse parades anyway.

They seemed surprised that I took it so well. They explained that courting meant that a boy had to get permission from them to start seeing me romantically, and at 8/10 years old this seemed fine (more barriers to people destroying my caravan of ponies). They spent years extolling the virtues of courting. I was given I Kissed Dating Goodbye and Boy Meets Girl when I was a young teen and read them, absorbed them, and lived by them – most of my friends did as well.


I’ve talked about our courtship and the hell that it was.
I’m going to talk about a different aspect that goes along with all of this, and that is being a Stay At Home Daughter (unless your parents let you out). Many of the stories featured in IKDG and BMG featured women who either worked in their father’s business or church sanctioned place, or stayed at home to learn how to be helpmeets. Few, if any of the women featured had a life outside of their family’s home, or any time on their own before getting married.


I went straight from living with my family learning how to be a helpmeet, to living with my in-laws, to being married. I had no time on my own to discover who I was and what I liked. I have never been alone.


I was never meant to live on my own. My family, like many others bought into the idea that daughters are to live under their father’s authority until their father passes that authority to their husband. Having any time between living at my parents to being married was unheard of. No time was spent preparing me to live without being under any kind of authority because that was never going to be an option.


I was to be married forever, until death happened – and in the result of death, I would move back in with my parents (ha). I would never need to know how to choose things for myself (instead of for/with other people), how to live responsibly alone, how to take care of myself – because I was supposed to have someone there to do that for me, forever.


I Kissed Dating Goodbye and Boy Meets Girl encouraged my parents to restrict the amount of life experience I was allowed to have in the name of godliness. These books, similar books, and purity culture advocated that women stay hidden and sheltered to guard their hearts and wait for a prince (any prince) to come whisk them away to a castle to fill with babies. They never talked about compatibility on any level other than spiritual – these books and this culture have ruined the marriages of those they sought to protect.


By feeding an entire generation unrealistic expectations for themselves – denying our rights to exist and experience human emotion, being told that anything we desire is sinful just because we desire it, and that to explore our identities, feelings, and attractions is wrong and damages our intrinsic value – courtship advocates have destroyed relationships between spouses, and families, and friends. They have stunted our growth, torn us apart, and left us to pick up the pieces of ourselves and each other while learning how to live on our own for the first time.


I courted, I got married, and seven years later I’m getting divorced; on my own for the first time, trying to learn how to survive, and realizing that this was so far outside of the realm of possibility that I was prepared for anything but this. This one, basic thing, that most people experience: navigating life on your own. I was never meant to live on my own, but I’m doing it. I’m doing it clumsily, but I’m doing it, and there are lots more of us out here doing it too.

An Open Letter to Hillary from Quivering Daughters

Dear Hillary,
I don’t even know where to begin. You’ve grown and lived and thrived and your life journey is a beautiful work of art, it almost feels wrong to bring up Quivering Daughters even just to say thank you. But I’m not speaking just for me, when I say, sincerely, thank you for writing through your journey, for taking care of us as we left our families, for writing Quivering Daughters and leaving the blog up. Your tender heart and kind words were the gentle encouragement we needed to start moving forward ourselves. You didn’t judge and yet firmly confirmed that abuse was happening, that we weren’t wrong or broken for feeling how we did – you opened up the doors to healing for so many more of us than you know.
And I just really, truly, with all the warmth in the depths of my soul want to say thank you. Thank you for being the big sister so many of us needed, even though it was and is heart wrenching and hard and messy and exhausting. Thank you for moving forward in your own journey towards healing and showing us that it’s okay to embrace ourselves and make our life what we need it to be.
You are a beautiful human being and Quivering Daughters and now your art + life journey, mean so much to me, and so many of us.
Thank you. Thank you for being gentle and kind and healing. Thank you for lighting the way for so many more people than you realize.

NLQ didn't "decide" to take down alumni posts, We demanded it.

Today, No Longer Quivering published a 2016 housekeeping post where they noted that they changed their focus in 2015 (which is true) to be on the mothers leaving the QF movement and as a part of that they decided to remove the voices of the adult children from their website.

excerpt from NLQ
Post excerpt.

They were not the ones who decided to remove the content – those of us who had written for them were. I was the first to ask that my posts (you can read them here) be taken down after the founder of NLQ, Vyckie Garrison, made a public Facebook post encouraging speculation of what will happen to the Duggar Family this year. It wasn’t long before things took a turn for the worst and people started commenting, speculating, and naming specifically, which of the Duggar children still at home would come out as gay.
Those of us alumni who are queer and grew up in toxic environments similar to the Duggars started posting, alerting people to the danger it puts the children at home in. Christian Patriarchy, Quiverful, and ATI parents shun even the appearance of evil, and if word gets to them that someone on the internet (or anywhere) thinks their child is gay, it’s going to make life hell for that child, or worse. Queer kids living at home are already at a higher risk of abuse, homelessness, and suicide even outside of conservative families. They last thing we need is for people posting wildly in a comment section about the sexuality of children in the public eye, in a toxic environment they did not choose, who will be the ones to pay the price if or when this gets back to them.
As a result, those of us who are queer or allies in the comments section calling out these people were harassed, stalked, and told in not so many ways to shut the fuck up and let the adults have their fun. Caring about children in the same situation we were apparently means we’re bitter and have more recovering to do.
Meanwhile, Vyckie, who decided to let this go on, eventually started liking the comments that were clearly cruel and abusive to the queer survivors of this environment and later made another public post about how she isn’t responsible for anything that happens on her Facebook wall, even though she made the choice to allow this behavior and start off with a public post that everyone in the world can see.
I’ve grown increasingly uncomfortable with Vyckie in the years since I wrote for her, but this was the last straw. In the last couple days she has made it abundantly clear that her only concern is not for healing and safety of all who are escaping toxic christianity and the quiverful movement, but merely the adults and militant atheists who agree with her and enjoy making the children of the movement into a side show.
I wrote to Vyckie and Suzanne on the first day to have my posts taken down. Others soon followed suit and are continuing to do so – including Love Joy Feminism, and Homeschooler’s Anonymous. While NLQ is attempting to take credit for the elimination of alumni voices on their website, I thought it was pertinent to post the real reason for the removal.
This wasn’t NLQ’s doing, it was ours. We’re tired of being used by a woman who chose the quiverful lifestyle to garner a following and fame while patting herself on the back and putting kids still at home at risk.

First.

I graduated high school three years before my friends did. I was getting married at the same time they were getting their diplomas.

I felt the eyes of all the parents and their kids on me as I navigated the hell that was my courtship – even the families with kids in their 20’s hadn’t let them do much more than breathe around someone of the opposite gender. So I was 16, and everyone I knew and the few people I saw on a somewhat regular basis were watching, curious. I felt like I had a lot of live up to.

There was a lot of peer pressure to “do it right” as defined by Josh Harris and amish courtship fiction.

It added a crushing weight that did so much damage.

I can’t put into words how utterly lonely it is to be the first, and then observed like a test subject, because your life skipped several grades and there wasn’t anything you could do about it, or anyone you could talk to, because there was no one else with a frame of reference for what you were going through.

Accelerating life is isolating and confusing – time is a blur and weird hangups are just waiting for you to sort out. All while you’re waiting for someone to catch up with you so you won’t be the only one anymore. It’s like being an oldest child forever, with no hope of finding people your age.

It gets really lonely, being the first in your group to pass life milestones. Really heavy knowing everyone’s eyes are on you and you’re an example for who knows how many people because that’s how the families you knew operated. It’s complicated knowing your parents are talking to other parents about you and your life as a warning, and justifying their response to your siblings.

I was the first in my group to go through the idea that our parents got wind of and excited about, I felt the heat of people’s eyes like lights on a stage, and I am the black sheep…..because I got tired and couldn’t be the example anymore. It’s not worth it.

Well Then, God is a Shitty Author Part 5

And then we ran away and lived happily ever after, right?!


Well….
After I got up to Maine my parents began this routine where they were suddenly super nice! Sent me my clothes, told me I could come back…and then would also be really mean. Back and forth, back and forth.


I had just escaped an extremely traumatic…decade, and suddenly I was so tired. I did a lot of sleeping. Alex made sure I was able to get as much sleep as I could. I stayed between my in-laws house and their pastor (the pastor I had been talking to). At the time it was exactly what I needed, they gave me space and let me talk, let me sleep, confirmed that what I was experiencing from my parents was not okay. My dad even called the pastor and when the pastor got off the phone with him he came to me and was like, yeah, you were not remotely exaggerating about your parents.


In April Alex proposed to me, and thus began another round of drama.

But before I get into that, I want to say. I was 18 and Alex was 20. I do not recommend getting married this early. It worked out for us, yeah, but I am not going to extrapolate that to everyone. We got married because we love each other and wanted to just be together (still do) and that was the only way we knew how to do it. The concept of bounded choice applies here. We wouldn’t have been able to just move in together – legally, yes, but not….while retaining relationships with people we needed support from at the time. So it worked out, but the fact that it worked is a combination of magic, that Alex and I  had a strangely healthy relationship given our backgrounds, and a lot of work.

At the very least, wait until you can actually legally buy the champagne to have at your wedding.

And I do recommend living with the person before hand, because seriously, it’s smart.

Alright, now that’s out of the way…


Within like a month or so of courting my mom took me dress shopping (I told you they rushed it!), and we found the PERFECT dress, ON SALE, so we got it, and it was in my closet. I got engaged and my parents had been nice and so I asked if they’d send it, and they said no – that they didn’t support my marriage and sending my dress would be like giving money to a homeless person (who would spend it on booze). Needless to say they didn’t offer to pay for it either. They then began to sabotage my wedding. Sending my pastor a tome of papers, emails, with notes in the margins, about why Alex and I shouldn’t be married.

The pastor did his due diligence and read over the tome and was like, dude, I don’t see anything here. My parents were pissed. They pleaded, begged, tried to garner as much sympathy as they could from everyone. The only family on my side that came to my wedding, were my grandparents, even though I’d sent invites to everyone else.


Honestly though, I’m happy my parents didn’t come. I could do without the sabotage and backbiting and expressing their loathing for me and Alex. I definitely didn’t want to deal with that on my wedding day.


My entire goal for my wedding was for it to be over. I got a dress at a used dress shop, the seamstress also did the photography (she took pictures with a DSLR and gave us the SD card, she’s….not really a photographer), I basically didn’t plan much of my wedding. We chose the vows that were the shortest, I told my Mother in Law that I wanted the colors to be red and white and that I’d like to have roses for the wedding party, but that was basically all I had decided. We had a morning wedding with Hors d’oeuvres and Cream Soda and tea and coffee, and our cake was vanilla with strawberry filling and chocolate covered strawberries as a cake decoration.

I walked down the aisle solo, to Concerning Hobbits, and we did not include any room for people to object.


Like 30 people came, we had a small wedding party, and I made a playlist for the reception. Tablecloths and plates and silverware were from walmart and I didn’t give a shit. I was just happy to have gotten this far.
During the reception the pastor asked me how I was feeling and I told him: relieved.


The funniest part is that my Mother in Law was talking to people about how it was our first kiss (it wasn’t), and romanticizes that we had cream soda instead of champagne. But nothing is more lame than having champagne on your wedding that neither you nor your spouse can drink. Seriously. It’s not for lack of wanting it, just lack of ability to acquire legally.
Which is why I said you should wait until you can drink to have a wedding, you will need it.


Alex and I work because we both know we’re human, we try not to invalidate each other’s experiences, and we listen. We are equal.
But that we work that way is fucking magic. There are many broken hearts and casualties in the wake of courtship and purity culture. When you start with people who have no business or ultimate involvement in a relationship having the most authority in it, it’s always bad. Just don’t. okay. Just don’t do it.


Date. Have Consensual Sex. Move in together. Get married if that’s what you want. Ultimately, be honest with yourself and your partner. Communicate. Know you’re both human.


But don’t give your autonomy to other people because “authority”. Only you know what’s best for you.

Well Then, God is a Shitty Author Part 4

I went a couple weeks listening to my parents and not talking to Alex. Making sure they weren’t monitoring me, etc. As they became convinced I had moved on (apparently cutting my hair in an effort to defy them = moving on) I went into planning mode. Alex and I had figured out ways of communication my parents didn’t know about. Living in the basement does have it’s perks.


One of our friends from TeenPact was running for congress in NH that year and asked me to help him campaign, my parents agreed, though were worried I’d see Alex,  I convinced them that wouldn’t happen, and so I flew to Boston and took the bus to NH (my parents also didn’t know about the bus part). Alex met me at the airport. He took the bus from Maine to Logan to meet me, and we put our faces together and smushed our lips into each others for the first time, because fuck it.


He rode with me until the last 30 minutes of the trip to NH, and I went on my way like nothing happened. He met me at Logan on the return trip too and waited with me until I had to go through security to fly home. He told me he didn’t hate me and I wasn’t damaged and he still loved me and it was good.


Came home like nothing happened, no one asked questions, although I did have to lie while I was on the bus, about the bus, which was exciting.
In November I also started carrying my messenger bag around with me (stuffed with a jacket) so my parents wouldn’t think anything of it when I left with it on my birthday. My mom had ordered me to send my promise ring back and I hid it in a drawer and told her I lost it, until Nov/Dec when I started wearing it on a chain around my neck tucked into my bra so they wouldn’t notice. They weren’t overly observant, or didn’t care once they had decided I was over it and they could continue to use me as they had for the last decade.


Meanwhile, I still had a hope chest full of supplies for my future. A hope chest that was in my bedroom as a constant horrible reminder of everything that went down in flames. A hope chest full of things I bought that I knew I wouldn’t be able to bring when I moved out. A hope chest, ironically, full of dashed hopes and broken dreams. I had about $1k of supplies in there, everything from pyrex glass measuring cups to towels and linens, and suddenly I needed a way to get rid of it. I told my parents I wanted to get rid of it because having it bothered me (which wasn’t completely untrue), but mostly, I wanted to have that giant, valuable, loose end tied up before I left.


There was a family at our church who had just moved to the area and apparently had nothing and were sleeping on towels on the floor. This was perfect. I immediately offered them everything (save for one bedding set and keepsakes) in my hope chest and they took it. Everyone was so proud of me and my generosity and I was told I would receive what I had given up 10-fold (yay christianity).


 
But I didn’t care, and didn’t count on it. I actually felt a little guilty because I wasn’t giving my hope chest away out of the goodness of my heart, I was giving it away because of practicality. I would rather have had it go to someone else than my family be able to keep it and use as some kind of bargaining chip. I don’t tell this story often, because people tend to attribute philanthropy to something that I still feel was an entirely selfish move. I wish I had been able to keep my hope chest, but I knew it wasn’t possible.

When your entire teen life is spent hearing about how having a hope chest is so important, and it’s such a good idea, and then you don’t have one when you need it, it’s hard not to feel judged. It’s weird. The feeling of being an example for everyone you know because you’re the first to embark on the journey they’ve all been waiting for is intense too. Something I’ll need to talk about more I think, but back to our story.


I broached the subject about meeting friends at the mall by myself for my 18th Birthday in November too, to give them time to get comfortable with the idea and not flip out about it. It took a lot of work but I managed to convince them to let that happen before January, and in January, I went to Florida to get my driver’s license.


I only had one shot at getting my license. To my parents and grandparents, it was no big deal if I didn’t pass the first time, but I knew if I didn’t get it done in January, I wouldn’t be able to again, I’d have to start all over with a new permit at age 18 because I would be living in Maine at that point. So I worked really hard and I passed the test in January, much to my relief. In order to get my license, I needed my vital records (convenient), so I grabbed my birth certificate and SS card to take to the DMV.

When I got back my mom asked me where they were, I said I had brought them with me and they were in my room and that I’d put them back….but I actually just hid them away safely, along with my diploma, and thumb drive with my “transcript”.


My mom was due any time in February and I hoped beyond hope that she would have the baby before my birthday. Before I left.


My birthday approached and no baby. I knew I only had one shot at leaving too, and if I missed it…….my life was over in more than one way. I don’t mean to sound dramatic, but that was my reality. I needed to leave, or I wasn’t going to make it. The toxic hell-hole of my existence was becoming all too clear. I had even spent several months talking to a pastor who didn’t know my parents about the situation and they agreed it was unhealthy, so I felt like it was okay, as far as god was concerned (because I was still christian at the time) to leave.


There was this problem though: I was my siblings primary caretaker at this point, and if the baby wasn’t born before my birthday…who would take care of them?


My grandparents came up the week before my birthday, took me to get red highlights in my hair and were around to help with the new baby, so my plan was still a go. I knew if I left without the baby being born, then at least other adults would be around to take care of my siblings, and I wouldn’t be leaving them completely alone. I had some amazon money from christmas, I divvied up my stuff to my siblings and I bought them each a toy and left it in a backpack by my bed. It was, and is still, important to me that my siblings know I didn’t leave because of them, that I love them, that I didn’t want to abandon them, but I didn’t really have a choice. 


I don’t know if they’ll ever know that. But leaving them tore me apart. I almost didn’t leave. But I had to.


One of my friends had joined the military and was stationed in GA and graduated the day or two before my birthday, so Alex came down for that (and to get me), and a couple other friends of mine picked me up and we went to his graduation and more relevant to my interests, I got to chill with Alex for a while. As a group we agreed not to post any pictures or anything on Facebook until Alex and I were safely away.


–aside– my online friend community was THE BEST and I wouldn’t be here without them, they were supportive and understanding, and I am so happy I know them –/aside–


On my birthday, I convinced my family to celebrate it early because my plan was to go to a movie and I wouldn’t be home until the kids were in bed. So they grudgingly obliged, and my presents were all conveniently travel sized, so I could throw everything in my messenger bag along with a change of clothes, my laptop, and my vital records. Then I hit the mall and my friend and I took pictures outside of Olive Garden while we waited for everyone else to get there, we were adorable.


So everything was going to plan, but instead of going to a movie, Alex and I booked it out of GA and called my parents when we crossed the border.
They…..lost it. Threatened to call the police (thankfully, a police officer already knew, and also I was an adult and wasn’t kidnapped, so :P) and even wrote up a fake police report on Facebook, went between love-bombing guilt trips (“we would have helped you pack!”) to calling me a liar and deceiver and otherwise horrible person. The trip up the coast was intense, but finally, finally we were alone and had privacy and could just fucking be.

Well Then, God is a Shitty Author Part 3

Spring Break was tense, and tension just kept rising. In May, something broke. I cannot remember what it was in specific. As much as I’ve tried to block off most of these memories, that one was just….I can’t get to it. I know it happened, I know I felt betrayed by my parents in a way I’d never felt betrayed before, but I can’t give you the context for it, because there is a wall there. I hope you’ll indulge me in taking my word for it. I decided in May that there was no way I would be able to trust my parents in the future, that nothing they told me was trust worthy.

In essence, May 2008 is when I really started seeing their bullshit for what it was. I basically decided I wouldn’t tell them anything personal, anything that could hurt me, from there on out. I knew they weren’t safe and I knew that everything in my life was going to come to a screeching halt, and then crash, and then burn.
I wasn’t wrong.


My parents had started trying to make me doubt my relationship with Alex.
I feel like I should point out here, at any point my parents could have tried to get to know Alex and his family beyond just a casual hello. They chose not to. They would rather just run off of their unfounded assumptions about people than ask questions and believe the answers. They live for conflict.


Still talking to him every night for hours on end, and actually asking questions, and paying attention….none of their issues were founded. Their issues weren’t actual problems with our relationship itself, their issues were with his beliefs and his family’s beliefs being ever so slightly different from theirs!


–aside– At some point shortly after we started courting, this family we were home-churching with gave me The Courtship Series, to help me with my courtship, as I was the first in our group to start courting (and I wasn’t even the oldest). This series encouraged women to be quiet and not say anything or express any preference beyond what their suitor expressed. I’m still angry about that to this day. I’ve always been outspoken, and trying to fit inside The Courtship Series, and Josh Harris’ boxes only hurt our relationship. Eventually we were just like, this isn’t working, this isn’t us, lets go back to just being ourselves, and that was much better. –/aside–


Somehow, and I don’t remember how, my parents agreed to let me visit Maine again in June. I think this was their last-ditch effort to get me married and if he didn’t propose this trip (spoiler alert: he didn’t), then clearly he wasn’t interested.


It was that June trip, however, where we both knew things were heading south and made a plan. We took a walk for an hour – the only way we could privacy of any kind – and decided that if my parents broke us up, because that’s what it felt like was going to happen, that we would wait, and when I was 18, he would come get me, and we’d run away together. We both sincerely hoped it didn’t come to that.


Barely two weeks after I got back, mom told me she was pregnant. I was devastated. I knew it was only a matter of time before my life ended again. I wasn’t wrong.


My parents couched it in terms of losing their faith in Alex’s commitment and gave me three days to break up with him before they did it themselves. I refused. They offered me money and a car. I still refused. So I woke up one morning to an email from my parents, to me, Alex, and Alex’s parents, saying they are breaking us up and they forbid Alex and I from speaking to each other again.

It was August. I was 17 and a half. I only had 6 months.
rewind One day in July my parents cornered me and were arguing with me about Alex and how he really should have proposed by now and disappointed them and whatever their other problems were, I can’t remember now. And I told them the plan we made in June. Because they were like, we don’t want to, but we will break you up if we need to. And I was like, well you can try, but it won’t work. THEY CONVENIENTLY FORGOT THIS CONVERSATION EVER HAPPENED.


When I got the email I let out a scream like Wesley in The Princess Bride. Inhuman, guttural, the sound of a broken heart. I knew I couldn’t trust my parents. I saw that they were using me now that they were pregnant again (though they would never admit it).


I ran outside to yell into the wind and my mom ran out to tell me to go back inside or the neighbors would think something was wrong (no shit).
She tried to tell me she knew how I felt (nope). The only thing I managed to say to her was “Only for six months“. She rolled her eyes, told me not to talk like that, and left.


I was depressed. I was borderline suicidal – by that I mean, I ideated A LOT, but I never tried anything. I spent 6 months with my life on hold, yet again, being the broom, doing my mom’s job, while she was in her chair being pregnant. I don’t remember saying more than a sentence to my parents on any given day for those 6 months. I didn’t talk except to get orders. I kept my head down and stayed quiet.


I thought about cutting, I thought about killing myself. I had a gun (16th birthday present), I knew where it was, I knew where we kept the ammo but I was terrified of the kids catching me on my way out (there was this empty lot a few houses down that I would go to cry alone and was away from everyone who could get hurt) and also dooming myself to hell. I had a few friends who knew I was thinking about suicide, who told me it would defeat the purpose, and if I went they’d go with me, which staid my hand at the time. First, good point, Second, well, that wouldn’t be okay, so. I didn’t cut because I thought I had a low pain tolerance, and I didn’t want to be caught or noticed. My #1 goal was don’t be noticed. So, I didn’t do anything to cause alarm (read: more lectures).


 
I felt so worthless. So so so unbelievably worthless. My parents, having broken us up, left me to pick up the pieces and they moved on with their being pregnant and shit. Didn’t try to check in on me besides this attempt at comfort: Well, you got to experience love, so.


Because of purity culture, I was sure that even Alex wouldn’t love me still/anymore. Because I was damaged. I knew for sure no one else would. I had loved. I had given my heart away. Therefore, even to return to the person who loved me, I would still be tarnished and unwanted. I would be the glass of water with a drop of milk in it, turned into this disgusting murky substance.

Well Then, God is a Shitty Author Part 2

Alex’s dad called mine because he wanted Alex not to be crushed if he asked and dad said no. Or so the story goes.


Anyway, not long after, maybe the next day or later that night, Alex called and asked dad The Question (because asking to court is basically asking to marry me. I’m not joking either, courtship is “dating with the intent of marriage, and also with no privacy, and your parents controlling everything” but I think in the actual quote they use the word accountability), and to my surprise, my dad said yes. My mom was ecstatic, because her life-long dream of being pregnant with me simultaneously might actually be a thing.


We started courting (marionette dating) when I was 16 and he was 18, my mom heard wedding bells immediately. We had maybe a month of courting in peace before my parents (mom) started asking when he was going to propose if I really wanted to marry him or not. Something along the lines of, you graduated high school, now you can get married! was said, to normalize, I suppose, the pressure they were suddenly putting on their 16 year old to….tie the knot. And I told them then, and I said this before, it’s not that I didn’t want to marry him, eventually, but neither of us were ready.

To their detriment, in their eagerness to marry me off, they spent the last half of the year I was 16 drilling into me that I was an adult and capable of making my own decisions even though I was still technically a minor.


I ended up being in the general vicinity of his college a couple times that fall, due to campaigning and TeenPact events, so we got to see each other a couple times, though, never alone (obviously). Which was so nice. We even gasp held hands a couple times. This was happening simultaneously with my leg infection, and one of the campaigning trips I was on (where I walked for 10 hours with an abscess on my knee) was the one he was at, and he hung back and walked at my pace with me, while I hobbled along. Why didn’t he just carry me? because RULES YOU GUYS. RULES. Nonetheless, while everyone was miles ahead and oblivious, I didn’t mind having the company…and the relative privacy.


–aside– My brother went with me on one of the TeenPact trips (the one pictured) where Alex got a pass from his school to go because it counted for some class or other, and at first I was annoyed, but then figured out that siblings can totally piggyback and no one cares. So that was the best. Honestly, I feel bad that I didn’t want him to come, because it was actually fun to have him there (not just because I didn’t have to walk in heels the whole time). Go figure.–/aside–


The first time we held hands, it was like trying to put together a puzzle while blindfolded. It took us a while to figure it out. I’m not kidding. It was awkward and weird, and we were trying to be sneaky, and anyway. We eventually DID figure it out, but man, fingers, guys, they are complicated.

I went up to meet his family in December. It was intense because my parents and his parents (who to this day, have never met) were already starting to have issues with each other. Mostly because his parents were like, no, you can’t get married yet, and my parents were like, YEAH HUH THEY CAN. And they pressured Alex into buying me a promise ring, if not an engagement ring, because…my parents really wanted me married.


Being as excited as they were, however, they wasted no time in taking me to turn in my bonds and fully stock my hopechest.


You know, because two months into courting is totally the time to fully prepare for your future together.


When I came home from Maine and I wasn’t engaged (keep in mind, we’d been officially a couple for barely 4 months) my parents were disappointed. There was other drama, that at the moment is sort of blocked out. Needless to say both sets of parents were draining me and I wasn’t thrilled with them. My parents started questioning his commitment to me because he didn’t ask me to marry him that trip.


They started being more outspoken about their reservations when he still didn’t propose after he came to surprise me for Valentines day. Not that he would have been able to anyway, because I and everyone else had the flu and I sort of willed myself better to hangout with him but still. Funny though, because it was a surprise, so I didn’t know, so I was chilling on the couch being sick and my mom kept asking me if I wanted to brush my hair. All afternoon she asked me this, and I was like no, I don’t want to brush my hair, I’m sick. I don’t care if it’s messy. And then Alex came and she was like THIS IS WHY I SAID YOU SHOULD BRUSH YOUR HAIR. And I was like, eh, he won’t care. He didn’t.


Alex came to visit me over spring break 2008 (we’re 17 and 19 at this point), met my paternal grandmother, who’s still the strongest woman I know and it was one of those weird trips where it’s like, well, Gramme has to like him, and she did, even though she was like, months away from parting. At the time, both sets of my grandparents lived in Florida, so that meant a 10 hour car ride south, Alex, my brother, and I in the back seat of the 15 passenger, to meet my grandparents and go on our annual “vacation”/fulfill some of our residency requirement, to Florida. I showed him around the city I grew up in sorta. We went on an incredibly awkward and overdressed date, but we looked cuute.


Short trip to my hometown and to see my Gramme aside, most of what happened was Disney World and Sea World which sounds like it would be THE BEST THING EVER, but in reality was…not. My parents had unspoken expectations of things they didn’t communicate (not unlike the time the year before, they said we could do whatever at a GA park thing and were livid that we didn’t hang with my brother, despite not having told me to), said we could wander and got upset over stupid stuff that wouldn’t have been an issue if they told us ahead of time. Were mad about my phone dying, and mad about Alex and I talking (just talking, not anything questionable) at the timeshare my grandparents had gotten for everyone, and about us getting stuck on a ride (mechanical failure). Generally, it was a horrid trip, my parents were insane and tense and ready to explode at any given thing – even the kids were on edge and anything they or I did just……it was bad. I don’t remember a lot of details, just a lot of awfulness.


I need to go back to Orlando without my family there to enjoy it again sans the horrid baggage and guilt that came with that trip.


The ride back to GA was even worse. My parents stopped at chick-fil-a near the GA/FL border and sent the kids to the outside climbing area and sat down with Alex and I and gave us a stern talk, because we had fallen asleep in the back seat. All three of us had (my brother was there too), and my parents were like, WE NEED TO BE ABLE TO SEE YOU, YOU COULD BE DOING WHO KNOWS WHAT BACK THERE. And we were just…aghast at the violent outburst in such a public place.

My parents were angry, because Alex, my brother, and I fell asleep on a 10 hour car trip and all three of us were leaning on each other. They said we were doing foreplay and didn’t listen to us when we said 1) no, we weren’t and 2) we didn’t even know what that was. Which was TRUE. Because we were homeschoolers who’s parents thought it best to give NO EDUCATION TO AT FUCKING ALL and decide that meant we were equipped for life.


Your teenager hearing the word foreplay for the first time during a lecture from you in which you are mad at them and then you refuse to explain what it is and also disbelieve them when they tell you they’ve never heard of it. Just no.


I didn’t learn about what foreplay was until months later, on fucking wikipedia thank you.


Things went south (even more) quickly after that.