Broken Daughters

Picking up the shattered glass of fundamentalism

It’s like coming back from the dead


Sometimes it’s really not easy. I used to be a big sister. I used to be my sister’s partner in crime – always an open ear, a warm hug and all that. We used to have fun and giggle and dream of life and everything else. I used to have sisters who were my best friends.

My brother and his wife are expecting their first child. I talk to my family on the phone and sometimes I get emails with pictures.

I remember the first time I talked to my mom after I left. I could hear she missed me. I’m not saying she doesn’t miss me anymore, but this is not something she wouldn’t have had to deal with either way. Mothers kind of expect that their children won’t be home for the rest of their lives. But still.

I remember my sister’s funeral, and how things were kind of strange between me and everyone else. My siblings weren’t rejecting me, but it was noticeable that many things have changed.

My outlook on life and many things has changed, especially since I started University. I guess that’s just the natural consequence of it. And the more I change, the more I feel that my siblings, specifically my sisters, cannot see me the way I was hoping they would.

What I expected? I don’t know. I’m doing good in school, and I enjoy it. I recently talked to two of my sisters on the phone and things were… strange. They couldn’t relate to me. Everything I told them about my life seemed alien to them. They asked questions that were weird at some point, but understandable somehow. “Aren’t you depressed that you are all alone, that you have to care for everything by yourself?” “When will you marry?” “Do you have to sleep with your professor to get good grades?”. These are all things I believed to be true at one point in my life. That a woman by herself will end up severely ill because she’s not fit to care for herself. That Universities and colleges are places of rampant drug addiction and sex orgies. That a woman’s life cannot possibly be completely without a man.

I couldn’t bring myself to tell my family about minor changes in my life after hearing that. That a bought a suit to wear to interviews for the internships I want to do in summer. That, after growing my hair for the last year, I cut it very short again, because summer is coming and i cannot bear the stifling heat on my neck. And yes, because I do not want to spend so much time caring for my hair. That I eat out most of my days, and that I can afford to do so. That I work a lot and that I, when I have saved up some money, like to spend it on selfish things. That my roommate and I declared ourselves “H&M-Buddies for LIFE!” recently. That sometimes I listen to rap-music, when it’s on the radio, and sometimes I even sing along.

I realized just how terrible all of these things would look to them. I am THAT woman. The woman who selfishly spends her money on vain things instead of investing and sacrificing herself for an eternal reward. I am member of a group of women, the women who cry rape because they are vicious and likes to hurt men. Or the woman who aborts one child after another. That woman who does not know her place. That woman who acts like she’s a man – completely oblivious to the fact that no matter how hard she tries, she’ll never be as good. And if she is, then she’s probably a lesbian. That woman, who is everything patriarchy believes “feminists” to be.

Well. I cannot undo what has been done. I do not want to undo it. I am happy where I am. But I’m not happy that my family will always see me as an alien now. The lost daughter. Sometimes that just hits you right in the head, and you start wondering how it came to be. I cannot be someone others want me to be anymore. I guess I’ve just had enough freedom to know that everything else is a prison. It’s like realizing that you have been buried all your life, and you escaped your own grave. Do you think that, if you were actually freed from your grave, you would want to go back? No? I don’t think so either.


11 thoughts on “It’s like coming back from the dead

  1. I wonder what like will be like for me when my family on either side finds out I don’t go to church anymore. It’s not like they really care all that much about my husband and I personally, but they believe we are good people (i.e. church-going people) and if/when they find out we aren’t attending anymore, haven’t in over a year, well….

    Just like your family, the ready stereotype of all they believe about the “other” will come down like a curtain between us. They will no longer see us as the people they once “thought” we were, we will be “other”. I am not looking forward to that day, but I am so much happier with my life today that at this time I have no desire or plans to return.

    I miss sharing communion with those who also know God as love, but let’s face it, that was a small minority of the people lined up for communion. I miss that instant connection with that small minority whose faces were also aglow with peace. I see those same faces in yoga class now, though. I miss my cultural connection with all those who came before me, my grandma and great-grandma, etc.

    But, I don’t miss being falsely accused of sinful attitudes and behaviors every week. I don’t miss being told that I will never be good enough every week. I don’t miss being encouraged to see all of those outside of Christianity as “other” and under the “power of the Evil One”. Don’t miss any of that, not one bit!

    We’ll see how life plays out, I suppose. ❤

  2. Hey Lisa, I totally relate to you. I am the oldest of 14 kids and my siblings are not allowed to see me. They uses to be my best friends, and they are now convinced that I am rebellious and Satan got to me. My mom constantly says she wants the old me not the new one, but the old me was afraid of her own shadow and felt trapped in a prison. I now support myself, am learning to be assertive and have found a freeing, love relationship with God that I didn’t have before. I wouldn’t go back, but it hurts to have my siblings think things about me that aren’t true. Hugs and I know what you are going through. 🙂

    • To all who will listen, I am the father of the girl who is the oldest of 14 children.
      What she is not telling you and what many of you may not be admitting is that there is no humility to allow God to reveal what his heart is concerning the direction she has taken. Without humility and a desire above all for what God wants for your life you will never know if your attitudes and choices are the correct ones.
      Many of you may have come from strict legalistic homes but this is not the case with this young lady. Be careful what you believe to be a “freeing” as often times it is really bondage.
      If anyone cares to correspond with my wife and I feel free to contact us at
      Our desire, as it is with our own daughter, is to help hurting people sort out truth from fiction and blessing from sin – especially when it come to broken relationships with family members.

  3. If girls had to sleep with university professors to get decent marks, the professors would be dead from exhaustion as there are so many girls! I’m hugely relieved for your sake that you’re no longer “buried.”

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  5. I know this is an older post, but I just signed on to brokendaughters because I have a daughter who just left home without letting any of us know. I am a Christian dad and would like to communicate with a few young women who have done the same or who are close to someone who has, for the express purpose of gaining your input. I love my daughter and am very confused by what has just taken place, and thought this might be a good place to get some feedback. Please help if you can.

    • Hey Karl,
      well, that is a difficult situation. If your daughter left home, I would believe that she has some (albeit personal) reason. You should communicate to her that you love her, care deeply about her, and accept her decision at this point. Blaming anyone for anything will not draw anybody closer together. Sometimes, we tend to have very different perceptions on the same issues. Something that seems natural and normal to you might make her feel bad and unhappy. You should, if you approach her, tell her, in all honesty, that you cannot see any mistakes you made (if that is the case) and that you need her to tell you what went wrong from her point of view. Now, of course I do not know if it’s something you did. Maybe it’s not. Maybe some other person in your environment has caused issues that you didn’t see. If it turns out that she tells you that it’s not about you, you should try to figure out the cause without being too nosey. Either way, I think meeting her with love and respect for her decision is the best way to go. Try not to feel insulted. Instead, try to see the situation as something that can cause a positive change in you, or others. Maybe it’s not a specific thing that happened at all – maybe she just wants some distance, wants to figure out who she is all by herself. Really, there could be so many things going on in this situation, all I can tell you is “respect and love”. Maybe she just needs some time before she can communicate with you. Let her know, somehow, that you are always there for her, no matter what, and that you will be waiting for her.

      • I wasn’t sure anyone would have responded, so thank you. I’m not up to speed on blogs, but I hope I can safety assume this is Lisa. I took some time to read the history behind this site, to get a better understanding of your background. I have inquired with this site because I had hoped that I could gain some insight into a daughter’s perspective, I’m not much of one to allow platitudes to alleviate my concerns or dismiss me from shouldering responsibility, in other words I much prefer if people are not concerned about offending me by being honest (notice I didn’t say opinionated).
        Sorry ahead of time for the length of this response, but if any were to have constructive input I feel that you should have a big picture view.
        I consider myself a “fundamentalist” but far from the way you have described your family. I have always thought of a fundamentalist as someone who is concerned about the fundamental elements of what they are involved in or believe. As my wife and I have searched out churches and other christian families, we have run across families like the one you describe in your history. We thought that these were unusual folks, but decided to start to build a relationship with them because, “everyone has something to offer” or so I thought. I am regretful that we ever decided that. They may call themselves “Fundamentalists”, but the are not. They hide their own pride behind religion and use God’s word as a scapegoat to build a small kingdom for themselves (Somewhat reminds me of Jehovah Witnesses, but that’s my opinion)
        I say all this to separate us from your blogs description of “Fundamentalists”. My wife and I have had this general premise for raising our children; Give them the tools they need to be successful, ON THEIR OWN, male or female. I have told both my sons and daughters that I would like them to be able to be self-sufficient by the time time they are 18-19 years old. I have told them that they should not feel that they should have to stick around Mom and Dad their whole lives, and that they will be adults in a very challenging time in history. I have two daughters. They are both wonderful young ladies, but extremely different. One is a typical girl, loves long hair, pretty dresses and feminine charm. My other daughter, the one who has left, has always been the proverbial “Tom Boy”. I personally never saw anything wrong with this. She has a such a special character that “in my mind” puts her in a special league of women”. She is not the frilly type, and loves adventure. I think the brightest part of her character is that she was always willing to roll up her sleeves to help the down-trodden, especially those that were rejected by the popular group. Multiple times she stood her ground against older boys who were picking on younger kids. I was mildly warned several times by well meaning parents that I would be sorry if I didn’t try to make her more into a frilly girl. I thought this through, but I could bring myself to shut her down like that. We lived on a small hobby farm, and she would be the on helping me butcher chickens, or clean the animal stall, or dig a trench or fix the barn or… name it. She loved roughing it (camping and hunting…) and I felt that she needed all these different opportunities for her character to be developed. About the time she was entering her teens my wife and decided to start attending a “Fundamental” Church in the area (To be honest, this church was somewhere in-between my idea of fundamental and what you describe in your background, it wasn’t as patriarchal as you describe, but where it lacked there it made up in a emphasis on Pastoral and church leadership authority. There were strict standards on dress and music) With-in the first year my wife and I knew that it wasn’t a good fit for our family, but my “tom boy” daughter seemed to love it. She wanted to be involved in many of the activities, she wanted to take up a second instrument (I require that each of my kids learn one instrument, whether they want to or not, its good for the development of the motor skills and concentration) We ended up staying for 5-6 years in this environment, until I started to notice some changes in my daughter that made me a little uncomfortable. She had started to engage the kids that just didn’t fit in, to see if she could provide friendship and help in some way. At first I was quite proud of her, but we began to notice that instead of being a positive influence, she began to be influenced by them. As parents we noted this as a weakness in her character (age 16-17), and tried to address it the best we could. (I find that a lot of young people are very critical of how parents handle certain things, but you have to understand we don’t have all the answers to every circumstance, and often have to weed out bad advice from good, parenting is one of the hardest jobs in the world, because you are faced with your big fat ego each and every day. The children have taught me so much about myself, mostly of how terrible selfish I can be.) We decide to leave this church mostly because we never felt that “strangeness” go away, but also because I felt that our family structure was being undermined by the constant preaching about church authority. In general the teaching was that if I didn’t subject myself and my family to church authority I was harming the development of my family and were not right with God. Upon leaving my daughter was a bit upset, by this time she had made some friends, (however they were no longer friends after we left, which tells me something of the depth of the friendships).
        At this point in her life she was really interested in a particular scholastic activity, and we backed her through this. She had some developing talents, and we encouraged her to continue. By the end of her senior year (homeschool, by the way) she made it to a national championship and placed quite well. However her character was still suffering, and she was beginning to be dishonest with things like internet usage, where she had been in the evening…… I suppose in retrospect she was just trying her wings as an adult, but still I couldn’t overlook the bad behavior. Since we were well beyond the corporal discipline years I could only resort to things like taking the car privilege away or ….? She had also begun her first “real” job at a company up the road. She proved to be a very hard and diligent worker. However (this is where I think a big part of the problem began) there were some young men and women (22-26 years old) that worked there with her. They were college drop outs and drug users (I think dealers too). Again my daughter felt that if someone could reach out to these guys they could get there life back on track, but the same thing that happened at church began to happen here, they were becoming an influence on her.
        We asked her to spend one year in college in a different state. We thought the new environment, would separate her from her new found “friends” and provide some healthy challenges for her. She agreed to go, but said she would only do it for a year. When the time came, she wasn’t at all excited. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to go to college, she just didn’t want to go to this one. Once we got there and toured the college and she met her roommates she was genuinely excited about being there. After three weeks she withdrew herself from school and took off, not telling any of her family where she was. We later found that one of her friends from work had advised her that she grew up in a compulsive environment and that she just needed to escape and do her own thing. She will not correspond with any of us at all.
        This is all very strange to me. I can make sense of your situation, just by placing myself in your shoes (being that I have no reason to believe your story to be inaccurate), but not here. I thank you for your admonition to “love and respect”, but what I struggle with is this, nothing we do is done in a box, it has a profound effect on others around us. For instance, if I decided to have an affair, that doens’t only affect me, but my wife, my children, my mom, dad, siblings…………I could tell all those people to get lost but it doesn’t erase the injury. If she wanted to experience life on her own, thats fine with me, but why treat family and friends like they don’t exist? My daughter has so many family and friends that have invested into her life, many would say that she is a privileged few, although we never spoiled her (again, my opinion), we are not wealthy, and couldn’t afford to spoil if we wanted to. There are some further details but I fear that this is getting way too long.
        If you have any insight please let me know or questions.
        Thanks for “listening”.

        • Hey Karl, thanks for clearing this up! I am aware that the term “fundamentalists” is used for another group that has very little to do with the group I’m from but, to be frank, I don’t know anyone from that group and I have no idea what they believe in and how they live, so I suppose your story is very, very different from my situation.
          What you describe that has happened to your daughter has happened in the groups I’m from as well – I dare say that happens no matter what spiritual, social or economic background you’re from. When I wrote my reply I did so with the thought in mind that you are from the same background as myself, but, of course, this doesn’t really apply anymore.
          I can only speak for myself but 19 isn’t an age where you are really secure in your personality and self-definition. Heck, not even I am, and I’m well beyond the 19. Do you know the whereabouts of your daughter, or did she just disappear from campus? Do you have anyone who is in contact with her at the moment?

          • When she left the school told us that they were very concerned that she was going to commit suicide, due to the way she left. We were totally unaware of where she was for about 24 hours. At this point all we could do was pray and ask God for wisdom and discretion. Sounds strange, but on the same day, both my wife and I were internal convinced that she was back in our area, working at the same company. That evening I stopped in by that employer and. confirmed our suspicions. It was true, and we were relieved!! We have had a little contact with her only because we have visited the place where she works, it is as place open to the public. Her friends would often lie to us when we came in asking to see her. On her birthday we brought her a few gifts as a family, and we were told that we were trying to manipulate her. I have not seen or spoken to her for about 3 weeks, now.I know our situations are different but I .

            • thought perhaps I could gather a little extra insight from others, especially other daughters that had left home.
              To be honest I go through a range of feelings on this but I always end up feeling ‘betrayed’, like someone weaseled their way into an influential place in my daughters life, and she let them, and all in a short amount of time. So many people have sought her out and told her to go back home, even people who don’t believe the same way as we do. In my opinion she doesn’t have to be home physically (obviously if she is involved in dangerous behaviors I would prefer her home) but rather home mentally and emotionally, secure to know that she is welcome to show up anytime.

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