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.
lmtp5

A Reinvention of Myself

This space over the last 7 years has documented my journey from newly married, just-out quiverfull daughter, to outspokenly queer, artistic, techy, advocate for making homeschooling better for homeschooled students. This blog is where I came out as agnostic, bi, & nonbinary; this is where I posted the process of learning who I am and what that means. Chronicling what life looks like for me outside the bubble I was raised in. This has covered a lot of firsts – all the firsts since getting married 7 years ago, actually. Art, cars, moving, college….I’ve documented my growth publicly because I need to be reminded of where I am, where I’m coming from, and where I hope to go. I need to allow myself the authenticity, honesty, and acknowledgement of self that I was never allowed as a child. I need to show myself that it’s okay to be open about flaws, mistakes, and sadness – that it’s okay to get angry and have emotion, and I hope that by doing so, others will take that as permissions for themselves too.
 
I’ve been processing and re-evaluating everything I was taught here. It’s here that I face the stability of the past with the uncertainty of the future. I have uprooted my life and everything I once knew, I’m starting fresh and reinventing myself; sharpening my tools and forging ahead.
 
You’ve likely noticed the name changes that have slowly been taking place over the last few weeks. I’ve been paused, unsure how to talk about what I’m about bring up. Slowly rebuilding and re-naming pieces of my life that have been home since before this blog started. I don’t know how to change course subtly…
I’m getting divorced.
 
There are a lot of weird feelings associated with that, that don’t actually have anything to do with the divorce itself, but everything to do with the things I was taught about marriage, love, and relationships. Bridging the Gap is about evolution – getting from where I am to where I want to be. I won’t be going into reasons or details about the divorce more than to say: we still get along amicably and Alex is a good person who deserves good things. Forever is a long time and sometimes things don’t last through eternity, and that’s okay.
 
The last 7 years I’ve been wearing a name I happily adopted, the 18 before I wore a name I inherited, now I wear a name of my own making. I’m Kieryn Fin Darkwater, and I’m venturing into uncharted waters guided by the stories in the stars and the compass in my soul.

First Two Days

Monday was my first day of classes. First time in a classroom with a teacher qualified to teach instead of in a church with a parent armed with a teacher’s guide and too much confidence.
I was overwhelmed and almost cried a couple of times – in a good way. My teacher really wants us to ask questions, creates an environment safe for interacting and won’t teach a subject she doesn’t know. It was so refreshing and scary at the same time. I’ve never been in an actual classroom, I am still not used to raising my hand, but I’m learning a lot. I was really quiet the first day, but the second day I started being more vocal and talking more and felt a lot more confident and safe and less overwhelmed than the day before.
Wednesdays are computer labs, so I’m looking forward to that.
She explained the number line works with negative numbers and it blew my mind.
I think I might have made a friend?
I think going every day is going to get easier and easier. I hope, anyway.


I was really sort of triggered and overwhelmed until I went back to class today. Feeling like an imposter and failure and like all my homeschool was showing, but also realizing that because of my history with math…I wasn’t ready for the attack of the feels. When she brought out the textbooks I almost panicked because the last time I asked a math question I had a math textbook it was thrown at my head…and not too terribly long after that my parents decided I’d never need anything besides cooking and checkbook skills anyway.
She had us write out some answers to questions about why we were there and I sort of vomited up – in as few words as I could – the story of my educational neglect and how I’m anxious about…..everything but mostly upset that my math is atrocious. I was then worried that I said too much, but she really wanted to know, and wanted to know how to teach us better, so…I think that was useful.
The first day I had to face all of my fears and feelings at once and then process that. I was overwhelmed and scared and also happy because I can really tell she cares, and I’ve never had a teacher who cares before, and it feels amazing.
Today was a lot easier. Today I know I can do it, and that she won’t throw a book at my face, and it’s okay to take a break and it’s okay to cry, and it’s okay to do what I need to as long as I don’t give up. And that’s really important.

Preparing A Visionary Daughter to Do Hard Things (Written in 2010)

When I was 19 I had the opportunity to write out…basically my life story and post it to a website with a lot of readers. It helped me start processing my life and was the catalyst for rethinking all the things I was taught and starting to see my abuse for what it was. I’ve requested the author of the site to take the articles down because I feel the site no longer represents or seeks to aid survivors of abuse like mine – but I still feel like my story – though I have grown and changed massively in the last six years – is important and can maybe still help people like me. So I’m posting it here. It was originally published in 6 parts, but I’m posting it in one fell swoop with handy navigation.
This was my start. I was just out of my parents house and still talking to them, facing a world of unknowns, and clinging to religion and the hope of a healthy family. Where I was then is still important, because it gave me the courage to become who I am now.

  1. Big Girls Don’t Feel
  2. Maintaining Appearances
  3. Critical Thinking
  4. Growing Up
  5. Waking Up
  6. Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

 
Continue reading “Preparing A Visionary Daughter to Do Hard Things (Written in 2010)”

College isn't For Girls (AKA: Backstory)

It occurred to me that while I’ve mentioned how my sex determined what I learned in school I haven’t really mentioned how that translated into college.

This is actually a little complicated because my parents waffled quite a bit before settling on their decision. When we first started homeschooling my mother’s plan (with no input from me) was for me to go to the local vocational school and double major in cosmetology and culinary arts. Neither of these were things I was interested in and actively tried to make that known, not that anyone cared.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned about my family it’s that my preferences don’t matter unless they line up with exactly what they want from me, their idea of who I should be trumps the truth of my existence every time – but that’s besides the point.
This was solidly the plan until I was about 8 or so (give or take because the concept of time is a blur). I think part of what they learned in the cult (or maybe it was the one ATI seminar they went to) was that it’s not appropriate for women to go to college. Some people think this but still send their daughters to college to get, I kid you not, an M.R.S. degree. The thought being, college will turn women into evil feminists who aren’t submissive and tell them things that are directly contrary to god’s plan (get married, have babies, homeschool)!
This goes right along with courtship, staying under the father’s head/umbrella/authority until married, and using the in-between highschool and marriage time to learn how to take care of your family. I’m not entirely sure where they got all this, but they did. Anyway, at some point they came to me and said that I wouldn’t be doing college, because god said it’s not good for girls to go to college – and college isn’t going to prepare you to be a helpmeet and mother anyway. This didn’t bother me because my cosmetology and culinary arts future looked bleak to my very young self who was neither into adding more cooking into their life or painting other people’s nails.
I think my family was surprised at how well I took it because they’d been building it up in their head. But anyway. College was out of the question for several years and I kept living my life free of the worry of having to cook and do makeup for college.
Then I discovered politics, speech and debate, and Patrick Henry College. I wanted more than anything in the world to go to PHC, and since it was a homeschool college and very much daughters-under-their-father’s-authority operating school…I probably wouldn’t have to worry about turning into an evil feminist.
Whether or not I could go to PHC seemed like it changed by the day, but I was several years out so I figured they’d come around.
They almost did – after they decided to break Alex and I up (because courtship = parents control all the things) they encouraged me to apply to PHC, sort of as a bribe – like the money and car they offered. I jumped at the opportunity to go to the college I dreamed of and get out of my parents house. I filled out the application and went through all the steps, got my pastor to write a letter of recommendation and all I needed to do was have my parents sign the waiver.
They refused.
They said they changed their mind, they couldn’t support it, they didn’t want to be responsible for me financially (and my living at home not allowed or able to get a job was what? or right, indentured servitude), and most importantly, college isn’t for girls. I’m going to be a wife and mother after all, I don’t need any further education. My consumer math and ability to read, write, and recite their interpretation of scripture back to them was all I would need and college wasn’t going to help me be a better submissive wife.
And like that, it was over.
After we got married I started applying to a school that did distance learning and was marginally less conservative. It involved re-writing my transcript (which is still a mess) and being a private school hot for Dave Ramsey, financially it wasn’t feasible. I was accepted but it just didn’t happen. I was still trying to navigate what being a Wife looked like and panicking that having a summer job meant I would have an affair (because women in the workforce have affairs, that’s why they have to be keepers at home) – the lies my parents ingrained into me were still so very very strong.
This is why getting accepted to a community college and taking the catch-up/pre-college course is so huge to me. I’m finally at a place where I can break that jar and decide what I want to do.

On College and Clothes that Fit

I took the placement test for adult basic education at my community college. I have an ID that says student and not “weird strange haired person who doesn’t belong: immediately escort out” on it, and an orientation on the 15th where I’ll find out where I placed and can sign up for classes to start taking in January.
The cards said go for it. My friend sent crows. I was at a place where I felt like I was ready and I shook off the wave of panic telling me to run and that I’m an imposter and I started it. I started a new thing. I started sort of almost college and as an educationally neglected kid who was told college was out of the question because I was born with a uterus….this is huge. I don’t have enough words to describe it, but it’s big and healing on many levels because I’m showing myself I can actually do the thing – or at least try the thing and see if I like it and having a uterus doesn’t mean I don’t get to!
 
Later that day I was jeans shopping and trying them on. I was not one, but two sizes bigger than I thought I was and I was having a moment as I watched the numbers on the jeans gradually increase. When I tried them on I tried not to dwell on what size I wanted them to be, but how I felt in them, if they fit, if I wasn’t trying to force myself to be smaller because I somehow thought that was better. The moment ended the minute I put on the pair that fit, that embraced my curves and didn’t squish my abdomen, that didn’t require a pants dance, and looks damn good.
 
I figured out that smaller sized jeans? don’t look better on you if you’re denying your body the right to take up space. You are matter, and oh my god, clothes that fit are so much more of a confidence boost than convincing yourself you could totally fit into this smaller pair really soon.


 

On Books and Bees

I went to the library and found all the best fairy books in the kids section. I came home with one called the Faerie Door and I’m almost done with it. My favorite thing about libraries is that you can just sit there and read and no one bothers you and then you can bring the book home and continue to read it because you can’t pull yourself away. I think the kids section is the best part of the library because all the most fantastical stories are there – the authors don’t have to prove themselves to the adult world and they can be as imaginative and wondrous as they please, and this is why I mostly read YA books.

The kids section is the best part of the library

A photo posted by Kiery King (@kiery28) on


My particular library branch is small, and the dvd and adult sections don’t have a lot in my particular interests, but the teen section is what really stole my heart. They had so many resources – I can tell that my library actually cares about the youth that frequent it and I was trying hard not to cry even though I’m years removed from teenagehood. It would have meant so much to me if my library had emergency numbers, LGBTQ resources, and books dedicated to assuring me that I am indeed okay.
There’s this fiction book, called stronger than you know, about an abused homeschooled girl with PTSD who is rescued from her family, lives with her aunt and uncle and is trying to brave the world. I couldn’t bring myself to read more than the first page without being overcome and also wanting to leave it there for the inevitable person who’d need it after I left.

So I came home with a book I’ve barely been able to put down. I’ll probably finish it tonight and then drop it off at the library before going to explore a waterfall tomorrow. Yesterday I watched some bees pollinate lavender while waiting for the bus and taking in the breeze. I’m not sure how much I like being disconnected from twitter and facebook – half of me wishes I were all the time, and the other half knows it’s not good to be in a bubble cut off from the world forever, either – and the fact is, twitter is a better place for news than the news. I can also easily get lost in my head, and need a way out – sometimes it’s pleasant, a lot of times…..it’s not. I get lost in remembering things my parents said and did and I get upset with little to distract me.
I think the moral of the story is, I need to consciously remember to watch the bees, take in the air, take breaks, but also consciously live outside my head, and pay attention to the world.
Happier? no, less angry, maybe. Calmer? yes. More productive? somewhat. I just need to listen to myself.

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.

Sneaking around the SR rules
Sneaking around the TeenPact “Special Relationship”  rules at the FRC Action conference 2007 (if you can call having permission “sneaking”)

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.
First Maine visit
The ONLY reason I’m not wearing a jacket is because it was 70ºF that day, weird, right?

 
 
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.
We went to Ruth's Chris, it was a bad bad idea.
We went to Ruth’s Chris, it was a bad bad idea.

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.

Well Then, God is a Shitty Author

cracks knuckles
So, I was looking in the archives and realized that in the ~5 years I’ve been blogging here, I’ve only mentioned courting like, 4 times (swear it feels like more though), and it’s such a huge part of my story….but also an intensely emotional and painful one, which is why it’s referenced but never really talked about. This is going to change. Probably. Maybe. If I can stick it out long enough to finish it. My locally crafted whiskey and moonshine may be coming in handy for what will most likely become a series – so I can’t promise the best writing ever (which, actually isn’t something I ever promise), but, I think it’s time.


We met at TeenPact National Convention, but we’d followed each other’s blogs before that. He was SmartHomeschool and I was Politically InCorrect. We and a handful of other people were first timer’s at the camp and everyone else we knew had run off to hang with their already established friends, and as we wandered, we kept running into each other and finding a handful of other loners at random times to make our group more TPA. We called ourselves The Magnets, because, we just sort of all ended up at the same place at the same time, snacking on skittles and starbursts.

The Magnets 1.0
We had *all* the homeschool moms concerned about us.

 
Alex, I will have you know (the tall one in the middle FYI – I only look appropriately scaled because I’m 12″ in front of the dudes. IRL I was shoulder height to them), was a tough cookie to crack. Super shy and awkward, I made a point to open up his little clam-shell-self that week, because I just REALLY wanted to know what was inside his brain. Which sounds weird, but I’ve never really felt that much curiosity for anyone else. Plus he was cute to boot, but I would never have admitted it. boops baby alex’s nose SO I MARRIED HIM. THE END.
Just kidding.
If only it were that simple camp love story.
Anyway, back to reality.
Alex was a cool person, we became fast friends, not just because we were more or less stuck together for a week, but he was thoughtful and smart, and interesting to talk to. He argued with me when no one else would, and didn’t just take whatever I said and leave it. We were equal. Which is sort of an unheard-of dynamic in our circles. When we went back home, we would spend hours every night IMing each other about everything under the sun. We had a lot in common, and we had a lot not in common. Eventually he brought me on the board of the magazine he started with some other homeschoolers and everyone basically started shipping us immediately.
We, of course, didn’t see it. We were friends, best friends, equals, that’s it. Everything we knew about marital relationships involved whatever sex was and submission (and not the fun kind), so, we went about our lives as best friends.
Alex came to visit me for my graduation party the week before TeenPact National Convention 2007, and that was when things started changing.
That visit was intense for reasons that actually have nothing to do with Alex and everything to do with my extremely pregnant mother.
It was that trip that Alex learned things weren’t sunshine and rainbows with my family. The day or two before National Convention, my parents sat me down upstairs and started yelling at me about laundry and shirking my responsibilities (Alex, who had been staying in my room while I camped with my sisters, heard everything from the basement). I came downstairs in tears to do the laundry they had exploded about – really the whole thing was a miscommunication, as was…..well, usual. I hadn’t done the laundry because I had to take a shower, mom had told me to do both without specifying the order, but then I had to make dinner and get the kids to bed and do all her other work, so I was going to get to the laundry, but apparently I hadn’t done it fast enough, or enough of it.
I got downstairs to the laundry which was adjacent to my room, and I just collapsed into a pile of tears. I forgot Alex was there and he came over and I tried to brush it off like everything was fine. I think I told him I deserved the verbal abuse my parents had just thrown at me, loudly, for an hour. I sat there and took it and apologized to them. I apologized to him for crying in front of him, and told me it was okay (to cry). He helped me with the laundry (he actually attempted to help me with all of my chores that week, but as soon as mom noticed she’d give me more shit to do), and was just there. I….never had anyone do that before. I always tried to never cry, because my mom told me crying was weak and would get me made fun of. Alex didn’t make fun of me, he was just present and calm and…helpful.
Anyway his visit with my family was full of shit like that happening, it wasn’t really awesome and I felt really bad about it, but then we went to camp again and I got to escape it for a while, even if camp was full of religious guilt that just reinforced that my parents were right about me.
TPNC 2007
Oh yes, The Reb pose. Very edgy. WE WERE ALMOST TOUCHING.

After he went back to Maine, and the life of being a mother resumed for me, things just….I felt halved. I powered through one of the most intense pregnancies my mom had ever had, probably the most intense actually, because she had an emergency c-section after having essentially a one-month long contraction. I had slept everywhere but my room for a large part of June (NC was end of may), including often the floor or a couch upstairs so my parents could wake me to man the house if mom went into labor.
But that’s another story. Anyway, time to myself after that was really scarce, I would be up until 2am because the only time I could talk to Alex was after everyone else had gone to bed and most of it involved him trying to tell me I wasn’t loosing my mind because of everything that was happening.
rewind When we were saying our goodbyes at camp, he told me to look under the coffee cup full of Reece’s in my room (his graduation present to me. Seriously, best. ever.) so that was, naturally, the first thing I did when I got home. He’d written me a letter that…reading it now, basically just said I love you for two pages, but at the time mostly was just the most validating thing I’d ever heard and desperately needed. That I wasn’t a horrible sister, that I was really strong, that what my parents were asking of me was insane and I didn’t deserve to be treated poorly.
I miss you” was said with all the weight and meaning of “I love you” when it’s said for the first time.
blah blah blah pregnancy, june, july, GenJ camp, CPS visit, all other stories….September.
Alex and I had written each other letters by hand over the summer because it was fun and….I don’t remember why we started, but anyway, he was heading off to college in the fall and I was worried he’d fall off the planet and I’d be alone without anyone I could talk to about life who would really understand. All naturally platonic, stupid shit, jokes; we were basically pen pals who were madly in love with each other and refused to acknowledge it (but secretly hoped).
So one day in September, out of the blue, Alex’s dad calls my dad, and asks what his answer would be if Alex asked him for permission to court me.
And so it began.
 

Book Review: Homeschool Sex Machine

rough cover-fixedThe author of Homeschool Sex Machine, Matthew Pierce, writes from his perspective growing up in a religious homeschool environment where purity culture reigned supreme and being pubescent meant you were trouble.
I read it earlier last week, and was just overcome with feels. It’s a short read – and captures that cringe-y kind of hilarity that you get when you read something funny but it’s also oh-so-relateable. That “been there” kind of thing that reminds you of when you were also a young pubescent kid trapped in that crazy world, and the mental lengths you went to so you could maintain purity but still also…be dealing with puberty.
Homeschool Sex Machine is also a great way to understand what it’s like to grow up male in the midst of purity culture. As much as I could relate, it was also eye opening to notice just where some of the emphasis changed. While Matthew maybe wasn’t told to cover up or get raped, the idea of attraction being evil (and by proxy dehumanizing women to be temptresses placed by satan, and men mere hormone balls) and all that entails was rampant. When your complete virginity and purity is the most important thing about you, things get fucked up pretty fast. Crushes? what are those even? pre-marriage feelings? sounds like a bad idea.
Anyway, I could go on, but for a cheeky look at purity culture and growing up in that world, just…go read the book. It’s funny, it’s cathartic, it’s a little uncomfortable in a good way, but mostly, it’s just good. Find it on amazon.