Broken Daughters

Picking up the shattered glass of fundamentalism

Training up this child – Part 18 – A new day dawning


I’m sorry for such a big delay. The last few days have been so incredibly busy for me! I had a lot of work to do and well, things that happen in a normal life just happen 😉 I’ll be keeping you updated!

Harry and I just kept standing there, looking at the pretty surroundings, not letting go of each other’s hands. After a few minutes, he pulled me towards the house. “Come on, I think I need to get going!” He made a funny sad face and we walked back to the house. My parents were outside waiting for us. I could see my dad’s eyes, how he squeezed them together more and more, how he made a sour face from which I was able to tell that he didn’t approve of the hand-holding. My mother just looked at us, surprised but not angry. “Since when is it ok to hold hands?” my dad barked. “Well…” Harry stuttered, “since Lisa and I decided to go a step further in our relationship…”. My dad’s face turned from a slight angry red to another shade, one between tomatoes and red beet. “I don’t approve of that type of physical relationship.” I got very annoyed and I simply felt sorry for Harry being in trouble for something I initiated earlier. “Dad, you don’t have to approve because there’s nothing to approve. You didn’t mind Harry playing Tag with the girls, he touched all of them and there were no concerns about their purity. This is nothing. Just quit that double standard.” I pulled Harry by his hand towards the house, leaving my dad standing, like he wasn’t sure what to say, or simply decided to delay the trouble until Harry was gone. “Come on Harry, you still need to pack some stuff. I’ll make you a snack for the drive home.”

We went inside where we finished up packing and getting Harry ready for the drive. When we said our goodbyes at his car, he grabbed my hand with both of his for a second and squeezed it.

Back inside, my dad pulled an act that was typical for him: Let’s call it “Let them suffer in silence”. It’s one of his favourite bits that he liked to pull with everyone on occasion. He usually just sits some place, like the sofa, quiet, staring, shushing people around, staring at his victim and, perfectly timed, shaking his head only very slightly when the victim looked in his direction. When I was smaller, I would try to please him as hard as I could. The silence was terrifying for me and my siblings, the feeling of really having disappointed him and God. We actually prefered being beaten over the silence, because after a beating, it would be over and normal again, while the silence could last for days with no clue what the outcome of it would be.

And after about two hours of the silence, I lost my temper. My entire body was burning with shame, regret and the feeling that I had treated Harry wrong. Not because we were holding hands, but because I felt like he loved me on a very different level. All of it was too much for me and I was close to tears. I just couldn’t hold it in anymore.

“Dad, you can stare at me all you want, I’m not going to apologize. You have pushed this relationship all along, now you deal with the fact that it’s actually turned into a relationship. It doesn’t say ‘You shall not hold hands’ in the bible.”


“I obeyed you the entire weekend. Actually, all I did was obeying you. You want me to marry Harry, now I’ll tell you what, he told me that he thought I was the wrong one because I showed so little affection. Now he’s sure I’m the right one and you get your wedding and me out of the house, so I’m obeying all you ever said about my relationship and this is all I’m going to say.”

With that, I left the room to hide somewhere safe to cry at. My mom, who was running around the house, cleaning and tidying, only caught pieces of all this. After a while, she found me crying in my room. She sat down next to me, hugged me and just let me cry.

“Are you crying because of Dad?” she asked.

“No, not really.”

“Then what’s wrong?”

“All I was supposed to do was love Harry. Before I wasn’t good enough, and now that I’m doing what everybody wants, it’s not good enough either. What am I supposed to do with everything?”

“Sweety, I don’t think it’s that bad you held hands. You’re close to an engagement anyway. I’ll talk to dad and try to make him understand. Now get some rest, then clean yourself up and join us for dinner.”

She hugged me again, smiled and left the room. Her words were still burning in my mind. Close to an engagement… I always knew this was the goal, but now that the time came closer with huge steps, I felt like a hamster in a cage, trying to run, but really, you’re not going anywhere. Life is going to happen, whether you like it or not. And nothing I could do would stop that.


8 thoughts on “Training up this child – Part 18 – A new day dawning

  1. The whole “I can’t do anything right no matter how hard I try” thing – I totally get that. Totally.

  2. “Let them suffer in silence”- I totally get that. In a way that made my stomach lurch when I read that paragraph. For a moment I thought you were describing MY dad. 😦

  3. You’re story and writing are completely riveting. I know how hard it is to share these difficult memories, thank you for being so brave! I cannot wait for part 19!

  4. =( I can so relate to this. In different ways, but still very closely. Forced to “court” a guy I could not stand. Tried so hard to like him. Got waaaay too close to engagement.

    Anyway, I’m really enjoying your blog. I love your writing style. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Been reading your story Thanks for posting it.

  6. Thank you for sharing your story! I know it must be hard to walk all of this out in such a public way, I thinks it’s so brave of you. Ever since this fundamentalist way of living made it’s way to main stream t.v I have become so intrigued by the “real” life style. I’m glad you get to use your voice, I can’t wait for the next part.

    • Well I’m sure you mean the Duggars 😛 Yes, they show the duggars and I have to say, real fundamentalist life is nothing like that. The Duggars are a very lucky family, they don’t have the financial struggles “normal” families have, and from what I can tell, the Duggars aren’t on the extreme end of the fundamentalist movement either. The fact that the girls don’t have to wear ankle-length skirts for example. Their shirts are also kind of “revealing” sometimes. And the girls seem to make a lot of their own decisions. I mean, firefighting department, on call helpers? That stuff wouldn’t have worked for me in my circle. That’s a man’s job.
      Nevertheless I think they seem like a great family. I have heard from several families who know families who have met the Duggars that they are like that in real life too and that the show is very realistic. I actually still enoy watching it and I won’t dare to say one bad word about a family I know only from TV, though I do think that it portraits normal fundamentalist life in an unrealistic way. I think a lot of people are attracted to the movement because they see the Duggars on TV, and once they wake up and realize it’s nothing like that for normal families, it’s too late and the damage is done.

  7. What a confusing place to be in. These darling girls. =/

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