Broken Daughters

Picking up the shattered glass of fundamentalism

At the grocery store.


I went on a date with Daniel a few days ago. Dinner and the movies. I got dressed up nicely, put on make up, curled my hair. I was wearing bright pink lipstick and thought I looked very worldly, modern, normal. Just before I left the house Daniel called me asking to get something for him from the grocery store. I live much closer and it’s not a big deal for me to go there quick, so I went.

I felt good walking through the grocery store, looking forward to the night, and then I saw them at the check out.

Two of them.

Standing right in front of me in the line.

Chatting quietly.

Their long skirts covering their ankles, their pale faces tired but content and meek, part of their hair covered. With them, two toddlers and a baby.

Two evangelical christian women.

My heart started beating faster. I had never seen them here. The city I live in isn’t that big. I looked around. All the other lines were much longer than the one I was in. I wanted to get out fast, get our table at the restaurant. I looked at the stuff they were buying. Healthy food, fresh vegetables and fruit, bread baking flour. I looked at the things I was buying. Ice cream – a spontaneous pick, I just felt like it. A bottle of my favourite white wine and a bottle of Sprite because I like to mix those two. A pack of cigarettes, Daniel smokes on occasion. A bag of frozen Paella because there wasn’t any left at Daniel’s place and that’s what I love to heat up when I’m there and hungry. I felt ashamed, somehow. I looked at my bright pink fingernails, matching my lipstick so well. I thought of my lush soft curly hair that I invested the last hour into. My tight black leggings with a huge oversized shirt going almost down to my knees, one of those that look like you stole it from your husband or boyfriend. I realized how I must look to them. Like somebody who has no idea of the bible or jesus or the fact that I’m all wrong, all wrong. I didn’t look any different from the other girls and women around us. I was one of them, never a christian. I stared at them with I can only imagine to be huge shocked eyes. One of them saw me stare, and smiled at me. A smile filled with joy, encouraging. I smiled back to the best of my abilities.

I kept looking at them. And I thought to myself: I know you. I know what you do, how you live. I was like you. I was that little baby girl. I know what you believe, and I know that at least one of your kids is going to be like me. And you will be ashamed of it.

Somehow I wished I could tell them what I really am. I wanted to explain myself to them somehow. Apologize for being what I am. But I didn’t. When they had packed their stuff into their linen bags, and I was trying to balance all of my groceries in my hands, they blinked at me, smiled and wished me a good evening. I smiled back and wished them the same.

5 thoughts on “At the grocery store.

  1. I’m impressed you handled yourself so well. I hate “triggering” situations like that.

  2. I’m impressed that you handled yourself so well! I hate “triggering” situations like that!

  3. I shut down once at a upscale restaurant/bar once out on a date with my husband because a middle-aged lady was dressed reminiscent of the society I had left. It was just borderline garments (long quiet dress with an oversized knit cardigan), so she could have just been “normal”, but it brought back such flashbacks, it shut me down completely pyschologically and emotionally for the next 10 or 15 minutes – I could barely even tell my husband what just happened.

  4. I can so well relate to your simultaneous attraction and repulsion. Do psychologists have a term for this? They should! 🙂 In my case it’s Amish and Conservative Mennonites–when we see them at the farmers’ market, my husband likes to point out “There are some of your people.” And a part of me wants to go play the Mennonite game (where you compare pedigrees to see how many ways you are related) with them; on the other hand, there’s nothing really left to say after that–so why do it? The worst is when they come sing and pass out tracts at our university campus. They come across as friendly–not at all offensive as most of the street preachers that set up shop on campus are. But so profoundly irrelevant. I have this horror that as I walk past everyone can see that I am identified with them–that I have sung in public with very similar groups–and that suddenly I have been outed as an impostor at school. The visceral nature of the experience is what is so destabilizing. So, so weird.

    • Oh my, I can’t imagine how I would react if some of them came over to me to sing or even mission me. I should work ahead and make a plan so I’m not entirely clueless and shocked when the situation comes.
      You know what’s funny? I don’t have it with Jehova’s witnesses at all! They’ve been here twice since I live in this apartment. “Have you read the bible today?” and “have you thought about God today?”, I had no issue with saying “Thanks, but I had plenty of that already, have a nice day” and close the door in their faces.

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