Broken Daughters

Picking up the shattered glass of fundamentalism

Training up this child – Part 20 – Hurt

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(As some of you might have recognized I name many of my posts after songs or movies. I usually pick out a song that suits the mood of each post, usually googling “songs about XY” and then listening to my options. This time, I was torn between two song: Chris Isaak – Wicked game and Johnny Cash – Hurt. I ended up with Hurt because, well I think it sums up a lot of how I felt. I know that some of my readers are just as unworldly as me, so here’s a link to the song on youtube in case you don’t know the song.) Harry’s mother seemed a lot more excited than usual. She made compliments about how I looked, how nicely we decorated the house, how amazing the prepared food smelled. Everybody had a huge smile on their faces, a smile I immediately thought was… retarded. It felt as if the universe had shifted. I was no longer in the real world but in some weird dimension, full of retarded people who don’t even know that some sort of magical boss is shoving lies down their throats. I felt as if they looked at me like I was about to join their sect, go through a weird ritual where they’d take out parts of my brain to make me smile just as stupid as they did. I can’t recall much of this. I was in trance. I talked but it wasn’t me who talked. I heard myself speak and my voice was different, strange, not mine at all. My words didn’t come out of my brain – I didn’t know what I was saying and at the same time wondering how I came up with the things I said. Cold sweat was covering my entire body, my skin felt cold and tacky, but I still felt like that person wasn’t me. There must have been some sort of small talk, some sort of prayer, some words of encouragement but I memorized nothing at all. The only thing I can remember was looking at my shaky hands, covered in freezing sweat and desperately trying not to throw up all over the place. My insides were rotating and I was truly afraid my heart would stop beating any second out of sheer fear. I remember at some point Harry asked me to go outside with him, sit in the garden for a bit. I agreed, my face frozen in I don’t know what position and a very strong, sudden urge the really throw up. I think I held my hand in front of my mouth for a second, because my Dad gave me an encourage stroke on my head and opened the door to the garden for us. As soon as I was outside my mind started screaming: “RUN! Now’s the chance! Run away and don’t turn back!”. But I didn’t. Instead, I followed Harry to the bench in the garden and sat down. I was completely quiet and the sweat started to run down my neck and back. My hands were so wet, they sparkled in the evening sun as if they were powered with diamonds. Harry spoke up: “Do you like the flowers?” “Yes” I said, “Lilies are lovely. My favourite flower.” That was true. “I think so too. You know, you’re like a lily to me. As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters.” “That’s true” I said, not knowing how to react. “Lisa, you know, I have been watching you for such a long time. Years now. I can’t imagine that there is anybody more beautiful and lovely than you.” He said and took my hand, squeezing it, which embarrassed me because my hands were freezing cold and soaking wet. “I didn’t have to think much about if you were the one. I knew it all along. I would’ve done this so much earlier but I felt I needed to wait and be patient on you. I was doubting your feelings for such a long time but now I feel like it’s different. I feel like we’re made for each other.” Harry looked at me, but I just started into the grass next to my shoes. I hadn’t looked at him during this entire conversation and I couldn’t find the courage to look into his eyes now. He was silent for a few seconds, but then let go of my hand. He stood up, slowly. My stomach twisted, making me feel sicker every second, my heart skipped at least 10 beats. Harry stood in front of me. And then, he did it. He got on one knee, found a little box in his pocket, opened it with shaky hands and presented a lovely ring to me. I stared at the ring and the universe shifted yet some more, completely separating my body and my mind at this point. And as I stared at the ring with my body, and my mind stared at myself sitting there, not knowing what to do, Harry finally said it: “Lisa Franziska Bennet, will you marry me?” I didn’t say a thing. I stared at the ring in Harry’s wet shaky hands and almost heard my mind laughing. This is crazy, this is unreal. “Lisa?” he said after some time which could have been hours for all I know. And for the first time I looked into his eyes and what I saw there I will never forget. I don’t think one can describe the horror and fear I saw on his face that moment. I looked back at the ring, then back into Harry’s eyes. Terror. An entire world crashing down, hands shaking violently, tears starting to fill his eyes. My, a lot worse than I could’ve possibly imagined. I still hadn’t said a word but I felt the need to react somehow. I took the ring in my hand, not putting it on and looked at the pretty little diamond. I could almost feel Harry dying inside and wanted to hold on to him, to make sure he wouldn’t just stop breathing. I put my hand on his hand, then on his cheek, stroking through his hair and while I did that I just slightly shook my head. I was still a mute. “Does that mean no?” he asked and I nodded just as slightly. Harry now sat in front of me, on his knees, staring into nothingness. “Do you really mean no? Why not? What’s wrong? What did I do wrong? I can make it right, just tell me what I have to do, I’ll do it. I’ll do anything.” I shrugged, silent, just staring at Harry sitting there in the grass, at my feet, not knowing what he or I should do next. Finally I found some words somewhere in the back of my head: “I’m so sorry”. There were some tears on Harry’s face, but he wasn’t really crying. “Well, tell me why you’re saying no. I thought everything went well.” My cheeks were burning as I tried to explain. That I felt like I wasn’t ready for marriage, that I was doubting practices and beliefs in the movement, that I didn’t feel quite right about marrying him. He took a seat next to me again, thought about what I said for a bit and then asked me “Ok, so what do you want? I’ll give you anything you ask for if you marry me.” I told him how I wanted an education and maybe a job, how I was afraid of having so many kids, especially right now, and that I wanted a different life, not as set apart from the real world and other people. I wanted to have friends. I wanted to be normal. Harry was quick to answer. “You can have that. You can find yourself some friends once we settled down. You can go to school if we can afford it and you can work until we have kids.” I told him that by our beliefs, we’d have a kid within the next year. He told me that I couldn’t say that. God would time them. And if we did, God’s way would still be perfect. That he thought if I kept following God’s plan, I couldn’t possibly be happier. As he told me all that, the truth started sinking in, the truth Beth predicted: I couldn’t change his mind, I couldn’t make some sort of deal with him that our marriage would be different. He was too convinced of his beliefs. “This isn’t going to work” I finally said. “We’re too different in too many ways. You’re sure that your beliefs are right while I’m doubting everything. You can trust God while I can’t. You dream of a biblical family, I dread it. How can we possibly be happy together? It might just be a phase for me, but I don’t know that yet. If it is, and we are meant for each other, we will be together eventually. But if it isn’t, you’ll be stuck with a wife and family you’re too good for. Is that really what you want?” Harry was quiet, crying and so was I. “If that’s what you want, if that’s what you can deal with, I’ll marry you.” I hadn’t said that because I wanted it. I said that because at this point, I realized what I got myself into. Two families were waiting for a happy, engaged couple. They weren’t going to get one. I was very, very afraid of what waited for me back inside. I was clueless how to explain all of this. I think at some point I wished he’d agree and still want to marry me so that I could avoid what was sure to come: Anger, hate, disappointment, being kicked out of the house into a world I didn’t know, cut off from my family. I realized the extent of what I just had done and it was just as scary as my other option. I was trapped with no way out. “No, I think you might be right. You’re obviously not in the right state of mind to make a good wife. You need time.” Harry’s answer was partially a relief and partially the scariest situation I could imagine. I took his hand again and for whatever reason I said Thank you. I was emotionally broken down to bits and pieces and started crying violently. “What do I do now?” I asked him. “What will we say?”. Harry just shook his head. “I don’t know.” I cried even more at that and Harry must’ve felt sorry for me, because next thing I know was that he put his arm around my shoulders. I couldn’t resist and hugged him, crying harder, begging him “Please don’t let me do this alone, please help me, please do something, I can’t do it.” We sat there for a few more minutes, until I found a tissue in my pocket, cleaned up my face as well as I could. “We should go back in. I bet they’re wondering what’s going on.” Harry stood up, but I just couldn’t find the strength to do it. He took my hand again and pulled me off the bench. “Come on, we’re in this together.” He didn’t let go of my hand, which I’m deeply thankful in retrospective. We slowly walked over to the back door of our house. My mind was empty, fear struck me but somewhere deep inside I felt that I had done the right thing. Harry held the door open for me, and inside I went to wash away those stupid smiles off my parent’s faces.

18 thoughts on “Training up this child – Part 20 – Hurt

  1. Wow! You handled that very well. It’s too bad that as much as Harry wanted to give you what you wanted, he couldn’t see what you really wanted and needed in order to be happy. I guess that’s the “nature of the beast” as in the mindset of the movement. I pray that someday he does see the truth and the truth will set him free as well. I can’t wait for the next installment. (Well, okay, I’ll have to–but I don’t want to.) Do you have any idea what he’s doing today? Or are you completely cut off from him and his family?

  2. Not to stomp on your wordliness even more, but Hurt was a Nine Inch Nails song that Johnny Cash covered😉

    Good post though, I really like your blog

  3. You’re so brave. I’m sure many, many girls just wouldn’t have been able to withstand the family pressure and the feeling of guilt for hurting their suitor’s feelings. I hope you know that it’s not your fault. Even though you weren’t in love with Harry, he sounds like a decent guy. He was set up just as much as you.

  4. Oh, Lisa, I want to cry for you, and for Harry, too. How old were you at the time? You handled it like a very mature and independent woman, in spite of the cloistered and stunted childhood you were forced to endure. Did you have any idea what a strong person you were? Such a bittersweet way to gain a freedom that should have been yours by right.

    Do you know if Harry has taken the opportunity to rethink and question the “movement” after all that has happened? He sounds like a sincere and very kind person. Thank God your dad hadn’t picked you a man who was like himself, or who knows how that scene in the garden may have turned out… maybe like a real caveman scene from Conan the Barbarian. Ugh.

    Thank you for sharing this part of your life with us. I agree with the last commentor, you indeed are brave, in a way you never should have had to be.

    • Oh I thought I added when that happened. Early April 2010. Harry was actually really helpful, though he didn’t agree with what I wanted and we are in lose contact from time to time, also due to the fact that I’m still in contact with his sister Beth. He’s the only one from her family who really talks to her.
      I never ask him about his beliefs because I feel like it would make us dislike each other at some point. I know that he doesn’t have anybody he’s seeing right now, but I also know he still has strong fundamentalist beliefs, thought they are much less radical. A worldly fundamentalist if you want, haha.

  5. Thank you for sharing this with us. I can’t imagine how hard it must have been to write. I am so impressed by how you followed what you knew was right, even though you had no support. I can barely wait for the next part of the story- I check my email every day to see if a new post has gone up!

  6. Man, the situation you were in was really no win at all.

    It sucked for you because you were starting to ponder whether everything you knew was a lie, and yet were being pressured to go on until you would be trapped forever.

    And Harry. Poor Harry did everything right by his lights. He followed the script. He had acceded to the demands of his community and their version of god. There were guaranteed good results. And yet they didn’t happen. That he took it so well is a testament to his decency as a human being.

    • Yes, that’s absolutely right.
      There had been “failed courtships” before in our community, but they were different. It was usually either a mutual decision because the girl felt the ministry the guy followed wasn’t hers, or because they just didn’t get along that well, or because parents decided it wasn’t the perfect match. I’ve heard of one case were the guy kept using porn, but he was honest and rependant about it with the girl’s dad. The dad however decided that he didn’t want his daughter married to a man who’d constantly “cheat” on her.
      Cases like mine usually make the family look really bad and there’s a lot of devil’s work talk going on…

      • Just curious, was there a falling out between your family and his over this? Did your family blame Beth’s influence over you and her parents for raising her badly? Uh, oh, I’m probably getting ahead of the story (I REGULARLY read the last chapter of books first, which drives the hubby crazy :-)). It just seems like what might happen in such a situation, where a culmination of bad choices (on the part of your parents and his) leads to a downward spiral of bad consequences, and guilty people typically look for someone else to blame. If I need to wait for the next installment of “Training up this Child” to find out, then I’ll do my valiant best to survive the suspense LOL!

        • Well as far as I know family ties usually break quite a lot when a normal courtship fails. I think that’s mainly because one side might still have hope or build up emotions that shouldn’t be there. In my case, my dad was quite angry at the family but didn’t express it, he thought they were a bad influence but when I left, he was still more or less friendly to them. On the other hand he was really embaressed because of me and didn’t really want them to see how our family handled it. The fact that I left made the whole situation very humiliating for him, after all he always thought of our family as a great example for others.
          I wanted to write the last part but work has just been so busy over the last few days! I’ll try and write some tomorrow when I have a little more time!

          • I too read this entire story in one sitting. It is amazing, and so well written. Thank you for sharing and having the courage to come out of the fundamental closet to tell us. I understand from your more recent blog posts that you are very busy studying. I hope school goes well but I sincerely hope you finish your story. I am very interested in how you made your escape.

            Have you ever considered writing this as a book? It is an amazing expose of the fundamentalist world.

            Many years ago my husband and I rented a tiny house from a family in a rural area. It was owned by a fundamental independent Baptist family who lived next door (read, very much like the Pearl’s) . Because we were pretty conservative Christians ourselves they allowed their second daughter to come over from time to time to help me around the house.

            While she was over once she casually said something along the lines of “the Bible says white people and black people shouldn’t get married.”

            I smiled but somehow couldn’t stop myself from saying, “The Bible does not say that anywhere.”

            She looked confused, but said, “Well, the preacher can show how it does say that.”

            To which I responded, “You can make the Bible say almost anything you like. That doesn’t mean it really does.”

            She got a very confused look her face at this. She had never in her entire life met a christian who didn’t agree with what her community taught, and you could just see the wheels turning in her head. After reading your story I got to thinking about her and wondering what ever happened. Your story gives me hope that maybe, just maybe she was able to start thinking for herself too.

            Again, great job, and good luck with school.

  7. Once again, Lisa, thank you for sharing your life journey with us. You are truly are so courageous.

  8. Wow, I just sat down and read your life story through in one sitting. You’ve been through some horrible stuff, and you seem very strong and resourceful. Also, you’re an excellent storyteller — I feel like I’m right there witnessing your past. You should be a professional writer.

  9. Brave brave brave

  10. ” I felt as if they looked at me like I was about to join their sect, go through a weird ritual where they’d take out parts of my brain to make me smile just as stupid as they did.” Eerilly that reminded me of the movie “Population 436” o.O. There was a guy I went to church with, I started praying about it, and it turned out he was praying about me, too. One night he exposed that he’s been praying about me. We were platonic friends, but I had started having feelings for him. He talked to my dad, got his blessing (my dad isn’t in church, or even a proffessed christian for that matter, but for a gentleman, talking to the girl’s dad first was the proper thing to do) and we went on our merry way… for 6 months anyway. Then all the sudden there was nothing. It was bizarre! It seemed right though, he was attractive,, very sweet, and preparing to be a pastor and I was so honored to one day be a pastor’s wife. He had never even kissed a girl or had a girlfriend before me. I on the other hand screwed up so much in my past with guys and I was pretty scorned from it. I admitted to him promptly that my feelings had changed but wondered if maybe God was allowing it to strengthen my love walk; to trust what I believed was from Him even when I didn’t experience the passion. He still continued to be very sweet to me but the feelings for me were getting worse. As time went on, the longer we were together I imagined a marriage proposal would be in the near future and I started panicking because I always imagined that a proposal would make me all fluttery inside and that I would be giddy in love planning a wedding and being married. But all I could see was a half hearted me. After a year I couldn’t contain my patience for wanting the feelings I once had towards him, back. I broke it off. It was kind of like how you’ve described your feelings for Harry. He loved me and I, the only girl he ever gave his time to,, the girl he planned on marrying, I crushed him. I know how you feel in that respect, to know a he is a great guy who cherishes you. Everyone knew what a great guy he was and there were some not so happy responses from other people about me breaking things off. We’ve remained aquainted though, but God had plans that suited me better🙂 And I’m sure He has plans that suit you, too! But as for Harry, when he tried to compromise with you, I don’t know that he didn’t really “get it” because of the movement. I’ve done it myself when I was head over heels for someone and it wasn’t working out, saying that it could work if we did x,y,z. It was out of a place of desperation to try and make things work because I was emotionally in deep… and chances are so was Harry.

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