Broken Daughters

Picking up the shattered glass of fundamentalism


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Preparing for marriage and kids

Much of the way girls are raised in the QF/P movements is to prepare them for married life. Of course, some families and communities support college for girls to ensure a well-rounded character (within the limits of that group or family, of course). You will typically see girls and young women taking online courses on things such as literature, culture, nursing and other medical classes, nutrition and so on. It’s easy to tell that all of this is things you can use at home, either to teach your own girls the beautiful girly things (literature), to be able to perform first aid and to cook a well-balanced meal. You’ll hardly ever see these girls taking classes like law, architecture or physics. It’s just not a useful thing to know as a wife and mother.

But among the most important preparations to be a wife is child-rearing. Of course there’s always children around. If the family doesn’t have enough children on their own the daughters will help other big families and perform ministries that prepare them for a lot of kids.

My family was lucky enough to have a big bunch of kids that I could prepare with. Except that I didn’t feel like I was being prepared at all. Don’t get me wrong, I love my siblings more than anything. I simply didn’t have the patience to take care of 4-6 kids at a time. If I had only one or two I was fine. That seemed easy to me. I was able to stay in relative control of the situation. But as soon as there were 3 or more, things got really messy. You know how kids are, they scream, run and tease each other. They fight. They might play nice for half an hour and suddenly one starts crying for one reason or another.

I had a completely different style of relating to my siblings than my mother did. My Mom was always a good Mom, but she was very much a hen. It started to upset me that she acted this way with the younger ones when I was in my teens, knowing that she would “ruin” what I had accomplished the day before. Whenever one of the kids got hurt – and you know they fall or hurt themselves a lot – she focused on the tiniest things. If one fell outside in the garden and barely even scratched his or her knee, she would swoon all over the little one, showering it with pity and hugs and kisses and sentences like “Oh it looks so bad. Does it hurt? My poor baby!”. I caught myself rolling my eyes more than once a day at that. It was barely a scratch! It didn’t bleed! She fell on the grass, it couldn’t possibly hurt that much! But no, my Mother had them sit on their lap for about 10 minutes, letting them cry, telling them how bad it is and so on. Whenever one fell when I was close, I grabbed them, sat them on the kitchen counter, checked their knees and cleaned them if necessary, told them it’s not bad at all and quickly changed to a cheerful conversation of what we had to do next. As long as Mom wasn’t close, they quickly forgot about their tiny hurts and started laughing again. But whenever Mom was in range, they’d scream my ears off and push me away so they could get Mom’s attention. I mean, I understand that this was partially because it meant individual time with Mom, but it upset me that I had to deal with a cranky little one for 30 minutes just because Mom had to put so much attention to tiny matters. Once the little one came back from Mom, it would stand a bit further away, hugging a teddy or a blanket, and when the other ones asked the little one to come back to play, they’d say something along the lines of “I can’t. I’m hurt badly.” Eye rolling from me.

On other occasions, I felt so overwhelmed by the sheer needs of the kids. I remember days where I had only 2 or 3 of them to watch, that wasn’t many kids at all! And yet I could be close to tears and feel so ashamed for being unable to deal with that little kids. I felt like I was going to make a terrible wife.

I remember one occasion where I had 2 of the boys and one of the smaller girls to watch. They played in the boy’s room while I was sorting through their closet. They jumped on the beds, played dragon and princess and screamed bloody hell. I was exhausted that day, I had gotten up even earlier than usual, got scolded by my parents for not doing some chores the day before (because I didn’t have time, just to add that) and had to those chores as well as the new ones. And the screaming of the kids made me incredibly angry. I stood there repeating over and over “Keep it down guys!” – “Be careful, don’t jump!” – “Don’t hit your sister with a stick!” – “Keep it DOWN!”. This went on for about 20 minutes and wouldn’t stop, so I turned around, grabbed them all by their arms, had them look at me and told them to either keep it down and play nice or to go outside. The oldest of the three, my brother, laughed at me and said “You can’t tell me what to do, you’re not Mom!”. I grabbed his arm a bit harder and said, very seriously: “Mom told me to watch you. I CAN tell you what to do!” He kept laughing and wriggled his arm free. He them took his “sword” and yelled: “LISA IS THE DRAGON! ATTACK!” and all three of them started whacking at me with their swords, my little sister grabbed one too even. The other two were too small to really get it. Oh wow was I angry. I was feeling tears in my eyes and an incredible urge to – excuse me – beat my brother with anything I could find. Instead, I took his sword away, grabbed him by the arms and held him, yelled at the two small ones to sit down RIGHT NOW, dragged my brother to the bathroom and sat him down on the toilet and told him to stay there until I called him back in. He screamed and screamed at me, face red, kicked at me, the full show. The other two started crying because I had yelled at them, my brother ran off and screamed and cried and left me sitting in the bathroom. I locked myself in for half an hour to calm down and cry some.

I was so ashamed of being such a terrible mother. I couldn’t even control 3, how should I ever managed 10 or more? And this is just one example. This happened so often, me trying to be nice and not use any violence and ending up with something like that – me defeated, the kids winning and laughing at me. I would never make a good mother.

And then again, there were situations were I got upset at my sisters for doing what they were supposed to do. I remember one occasion where one of my smaller sisters, she was 5 or 6 at that time, played with the real small ones of another family. The little girl was just starting to walk and wanted to explore, of course. My little sister kept holding her hand and helping her around. But she wanted to play doll with that little girl, so she kept sitting the little one on her lap. The little one struggled to get away from my sister to play with the other kids, who were playing and running around on the grass. My sister kept holding her. When the little one started to wail because she couldn’t get away from my sister, my sister started to “console” the crying little one, sang songs and rocked it back and forth. She didn’t get the little one didn’t want to stay. The others ran over and asked my sister to come play but she replied “I can’t. I have the baby and she’s crying.”. I watched the scene and felt anger rise up in me. Why was she so insistent to keep the baby? The little one cried more and more, my sister looking all serious, asking what’s wrong, shhhing it, singing and looking like a little Mom, while watching the others play. And that was the point where I lost my patience. I went over to her and told her that the baby didn’t want to sit on her lap. She answered “Yes she doesn, she’s crying can’t you see?”. I told her the baby was crying because she was holding it. She let it go then and the baby quickly got to her feet and started walking away, now happy again. I turned around to go away, after a few steps looking back at the scene just to see my sister off to catch the baby again, forcing it on her lap, doing the same thing. NOW I was angry. I stomped over to her, took the baby away and yelled at her:

“Stop it! Quit acting like you’re a grown up! You’re a kid, go play! YOU’RE NOT A GROWN UP! You’re not supposed to play baby’s Mom!”

I can’t explain where that came from. She was supposed to do exactly that. But seeing it made me so angry. She started crying and ran inside. I let the baby down, the baby just being happy to be finally free. But I felt so bad. Had I just yelled at my sister for doing what we were trying to teach her? She ran to my parents and told them about it, my Dad coming outside to yell at me what I was thinking, that I did the wrong thing and I should let her play with the baby. I went inside, excusing myself, to cry about my weird behaviour. I didn’t get why I said that. I didn’t get why it made me so angry. Once again I felt ashamed for being such a terrible mother.

You see, while all of that was supposed to prepare me for married life and kids, it instead scared me. It made me feel inadequate and stupid. Until this day I feel like the only thing it taught me was that I neither want nor am able to have more than two kids myself. I feel like I have already raised enough kids in my life and doing it again doesn’t seem like something I want to do any time soon. The fact that I love my siblings doesn’t change that I don’t feel suited to raise kids. I keep wondering, if I didn’t have this many siblings, our family would’ve been so different, I might have never left, and might have gotten married, and might have ended up with 10 myself. I’d be thrown into the cold water just to realize that I’m not made for that. I guess I’m glad I could at least learn that.

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My Mom, school, life

Phew, there’s been a bunch of changes and events in my life lately. I though it would be a good idea to write about it for a little bit.

The first thing is that I’m extremely thrilled that my Mom actually called me yesterday to “chat”. Like, out of the blue! There’s no special event or special day or any other occasion that would give her a good enough reason to call me. She actually called me just to talk. And the great thing is, she didn’t have any news to tell me! Why’s that great you might ask yourself now. Well, our calls have been nothing but an exchange of major news ever since I left. The few times we talked there was always an important reason for her to call me. But this time there was nothing up at all! So she must have called me because she just wanted to talk to me and that’s great. She called me “Häschen” which means “little bunny”, she used to call me that when I was younger but not much any more ever since my courtship, actually. I guess she felt it wasn’t appropriate any more. She asked me how I’m doing in school and about my job and my friends and all that. And not in an annoying “you’re doing the wrong thing and I disapprove of your lifestyle” way. Just sounded like genuine curiosity. We also talked about the possibility of her visiting me and she said she is working on it, seeing if she can make it and asked me if there was enough room to bring the smaller ones along because she doesn’t want to leave them back. I really really hope that works out.

Something that… well… seemed a bit strange, to say the least, was the fact that she didn’t speak very nicely of Dad. I asked her what he would say if she came to visit and she told me that she didn’t care and that he’s “in sin” lately. I do not know what she could possibly mean, there’s so many options of what that could be… I guess I’ll find out.

And one more shocking thing happened. See, I did not really tell my parents about the fact that I have a boyfriend. I guess I just don’t want them to think I’ve gone completely worldly… But he’s involved in so many parts of my life that I have a hard time hiding him when I talk about my daily life. So I figured I’d just straight out tell my Mom. I meant, if she actually came to visit she would find out anyway and I don’t think that would be a nice situation for her and everybody else, being confronted like that. So I told her “Mom, I have to tell you… I have a boyfriend…” and what she said silenced me for a while:

“Oh, I know.”

My jaw dropped, to say the least! After what felt like a minute of recovering I asked “How, I mean, what?? How??”

My Mom laughed and just said: “You know, my sister has never been good at keeping secrets.”

I’m glad my Mom wasn’t hurt by me not telling her earlier and finding out through my aunt, we talked about it for a little while and while she didn’t seem like she wanted to know details, she asked some superficial questions about him (job, age and that) and his family as well. I guess it went well.

 

As for the rest of the week… I was very excited for visiting days at the different universities around, I still am because I’m going to look at some more schools, but I went to the closest one this week and I had an absolute blast!

There was a very nice mentor, a student herself, who showed us around and explained everything. She is actually younger than me but I felt like the little girl. She told us this was her first time as a newbie mentor and she was really bubbly and fun, and she blushed many times whenever somebody asked her a question, but that just made me more comfortable, knowing I’m not the only newbie. She gave us a list of lectures we could visit, helped us pick some out and told us where to go. I went to a literature lecture on the Victorian age and I had a lot of fun there, the teacher was about 35-40 and he had this funny way of speaking… like, really passionate. He talked about the marriage of Queen Victoria and showed letters and her diary and read them out, and at one point he giggled and squealed “How romantic!” when he read the entry on her wedding night.

After that, I went to a law lesson. Boy that is one tough thing to study! Everybody there looked so fancy – kind of lawyer-ish, haha – and it was A LOT of confusing stuff. I can’t really explain but it was very confusing, so many different laws on the same thing with a lot of cross references to other laws and also the language seems so foreign and intelligent, and really a lot of stuff you have to memorize. I felt a bit overwhelmed and I just heard one lesson, I can only imagine how much they have to memorize for the test! But, I don’t know, I didn’t think I’d say this, but it made me really curious and I’m definitely going to look into law.

After those two lessons, my group met back up with our mentor and she guided us to the cafeteria and had lunch with us. She answered all our questions on student life in that particular city and on university life. She was so sweet and tried to get the fear out of us. She also told us some stories about her first semesters, which was funny and partially embarrassing (for her) but she laughed and told us to wait, the exact same would happen to us.

In the afternoon I heard a lesson in History of Art, it was one on medieval churches. That was very, very interesting but I recognized that the students in there obviously had a lot of background that I didn’t have. But that’s what university is for, right? But hearing about some styles was amazing and it really sparked my interest.

The last I heard was a culture class about the jewish in Europe in medieval times. I heard so much information that I didn’t know before and it was fascinating. I always think of terrible things when I hear “Middle Age”, so it was kind of eye-opening that people weren’t stupid at all, just different. Another thing I was really surprised by!

After the last lesson we again met back up with our mentor. We had a coffee together and just chatted some more. She also gave us some materials about the school and the city and everything.

I was really fascinated by university life. It’s not what I imagined it to be – no sex talk everywhere, not full of people having sex wherever they go, not full of teachers who lurk on stupid female students who are exploited… Just normal, peaceful people who are working very hard.

Wow, if you’re still reading, you really made it through this rant! I guess I’ll finish here, but I’ll be back with more stories and school!


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Updates on my family

I hope of all of you, my wonderful readers, had a quiet and relaxed easter time. Of course, it’s never really quiet if you celebrate it… Cooking, cleaning, shopping, all that holiday stuff. But if you’re honest with yourself, you probably had fun with that, too and it was worth it! So back to every day life now.

Over easter my aunt called my mother for some chatting and exchanging news and such. I was there too and I actually talked to my Mom for quite a while.

I think my Mom is in the process of forgiving me, somehow. I don’t know why I think that, I guess it’s just the way she talks to me – or talked to me, on that day. I mean, she was so normal. She tried to avoid religious topics and I mean, easter would’ve been a great day to remind me of redemption and salvation and all that, but she didn’t go there. She wished me happy easter and asked what I’ve been doing over the holidays. She listened and was very interested in my stories. Where I went for lunches and dinners, who the people and families are, how I know them, what they do for a living and such. Like, I don’t know… she seemed interested in my life now, not judging me, nothing.

I also asked her what they have been doing, how the holidays went and if there was anything new the last weeks. We talked for a bit on my birthday but due to the difference in time zones and the fact that I worked on my birthday, it was a really short conversation. We had much more time this weekend.

Well, there are some news about my family. My Mom told me that my brother – the oldest one who came after me – got engaged last week. I didn’t even know he was courting and I thought he must’ve been courting back in October when I was in the states, so you can imagine that I reacted hurt to those news. Just because nobody told me. My Mom explained that they weren’t officially courting yet at that point and that it was just my brother talking to the young woman’s Dad at that point. So yeah, it’s normal to not even tell close family because there still might be gossip and it might get hopes up. They started their official courtship mid-November and, as I said, got engaged last week.

I know the girl he’s engaged to, but not very well. She’s from a family we had loose contact with. Her family isn’t as strict as mine (that I know of) and she lives a 30 minute drive away from my family, so they could actually see each other every other day and had many meetings during their close to 6 month courtship period. She’s a very nice girl but much younger than me and every time I saw her, she was very very quiet and shy and we hardly ever talked because she prefered to sit quiet next to her parents. That’s ok, of course, but I can’t really say much about her except that she seems very nice. She’s just 18 so a 6 year difference between me and her might be a reason why I never talked to her on a friendship base but much more on an older sister/babysitter base. Anyways, I’m happy for the two, she’s so precious and genuinely nice and loving, and of course I love my brother. I just hope that he won’t act like a copy of my Dad and that he’ll treat her right and not like a tyrant. I’m actually a bit worried for her but what can I do? I hope for the best.

It’s just one more situation that shocks me, kind of. I might be an aunt within the next year, year and a half. If things went differently, I’d have one or two kids by now. Being an aunt would feel different. It makes me feel like I’m actually younger than my brother, sort of. I feel almost like a child compared to his situation, but I know that’s not true. We simply live in different worlds.

Other than that, my Mom and I also talked about my sister… And I told my mother to see a doctor about it. She’s really not dealing well with it. She said that Dad has become very strange and quiet and I think he might be depressive. But the same goes for my Mom, it’s just a different way of showing it. I don’t know why but it somehow went by me. The big depression, I mean. It’s like all of that happened in another universe, kind of removed from my existence here. Of course I’m sad, of course it hurts, that’s not the point. It’s more like the realisation still hasn’t sunk in, or if it did, maybe I’m just dealing with it on a different level. There are always going to be big loses in life, but the world doesn’t stop and wait for you. You have to keep pushing yourself, or you’ll get lost and never find your way back into life. I think the world has still stopped for my Mom. I feel like she needs help and she said she was going to talk to a doctor about it. I’ll somehow try to make sure she really does it.

My other siblings are fine. They all sat together on the phone once the major conversation with my Mom was over and asked me for a lot of things. My sisters seemed so curious and excited to know about my life now. Especially the older ones… I think they might be questioning if their way is the only way. My brothers didn’t talk much, at least the older ones, because, you know, they didn’t really seem interested and we never had that close of a relationship as I did with the girls. The deep talks weren’t what they come to me for. But the smaller ones were very interested to know about this weird country I live in and asked some funny questions. Do we have microwaves too? Are we allowed to vote? What are the cars like??? They have a boyish fascination with cars and I was a bit sad I couldn’t satisfy them with my answers… I know nothing about cars!

I didn’t talk to my Dad, though. My Mom said he wasn’t in the mood and he was praying and bible studying anyway. He seems to do that a lot now, more than ever. I think he’s still very angry at me. But what can I do? I apologized more than once. I tried to make him understand that I’m not rejecting him as a person. There’s only so much I can do.

All together it was a very nice weekend for me. The phone call with my Mom and siblings gave me so much energy and happiness. I asked my Mom if she would visit me some time this year. She could see her family and go places she liked and show me the places where she went as a girl… I told her it would be so much fun. And I would love her to meet my friends and see what I do these days. She told me she would see what she could do. I told her that I would help her pay for the flight as well and my aunt already said that she’ll be there for financial support as well. I don’t know, that would be like a dream come true but I can’t get my hopes up. I know my family is pretty poor and I actually make so much money with my lousy job that I could afford to pay half of the ticket if I saved for a few months. I know my family would have a very hard time paying for it… Maybe the financial situation will improve once my brother is out of the house (one less mouth to feed, so to say). I’ll see, I guess.


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1995

Today is a beautiful day. Daddy will take me shopping! A new couple from our community is having their first baby, and they are having a baby party. We need a gift, so we will go to a toy store and buy one. And then, we will go to a shop were Daddy will buy some pants for working out in the garden. And Mommy says “If you find a pretty sunday dress for her, you should buy that, too”

Other people from our community sewed a baby blanket or are giving them boxes full of used baby clothes. But Mommy can’t sew much and we need our baby clothes. So instead we will buy a new stuffed animal. Not a used one!

Daddy takes me along cause I’m the biggest and I know what’s pretty. Mommy says “You take her along, I’m so tired, and I have to watch the baby and the small ones.” Today it’s only Daddy and me, and all the small ones stay at home, and I can go look at all the pretty toys.

We get in the car and I put my seatbelt on. I’m so excited! Daddy starts the car and we pull out the drive way. The drive is going to be super long. I stare out the window for a bit, but then I sing because I like to sing and the radio isn’t on:

Denkt, ich weiß ein Schäfelein,
das wollt´ gar nicht folgsam sein.
Lief von seiner Herde weg,
kam auf einen bösen Weg.
Denkt, denkt, denkt, das Schäfelein war ich.
Denkt, denkt, denkt, das Schäfelein war ich.
Doch mein Heiland, doch mein Heiland,
doch mein Heiland suchte mich.

(Imagine, I know about a sheep,
it didn’t want to be obedient.
Ran away from the flock,
onto the evil path.
Imagine, imagine, imagine, I was that sheep.
Imagine, imagine, imagine, I was that sheep.
But my Lord, but my Lord,
but my Lord went looking for me.)

I sing for a very long time until we arrive at the toy store. I’m really excited, loosen my seatbelt and jump out of the car. My Daddy takes my hand and we walk towards the entrance. I skip steps, skip steps and sing. We go inside and it’s great. Daddy tells me to stay close as we look for the baby toys, passing the shelfs with the dolls, and the strollers, and the toys for boys, and then all the books, and then finally the baby toys. There are sooo many stuffed animals, but I find the prettiest one right away. It’s a light brown bear with the softest, fluffiest fur you have ever touched! And it’s big too. It will be as big as the baby, but babies grow fast so the baby can keep it for long and not grow too big for it. Daddy looks at some other toys, but I don’t think he likes baby toy shopping. He is a bit impatient and wants to go.

We go to pay for the stuffed animal and walk by the other shelfs again. I stop by the dolls because there is the most beautiful doll I have ever seen! She is blonde and wears a princess dress. And I say “Daddy, STOP! Can we buy the doll instead of the dress?” And Daddy says “No, you’re too big for dolls” but I don’t think I’m too big. I say “No Daddy, I’m not too big, please let me have the doll.” Daddy says “No, we have a baby at home, you don’t need a doll, you can learn how to be a Mommy with the baby.” I’m a bit sad and say “The baby isn’t as good as the doll…”. Daddy is really impatient now and hisses “Stop throwing a tantrum, people are already looking at us. You are being selfish and disobedient.” HE slaps my hand and I’m angry at Daddy, because I didn’t throw a tantrum and right now, I’m angry because he took me to the toy store where I can look at stuff but he won’t let me have any of it. I make a grumpy face and follow Daddy to the checkout. He pays and pushes me a little so I smile at the lady and say goodbye. We go to the car, and I’m still making a grumpy face and I have my arms crossed over my chest so Daddy knows I’m grumpy now. We get in the car and I put my seatbelt on and go back to my grumpiness. Daddy is upset and lectures me not to be so. I stare and listen, and he says “Do you understand?” and I say “Do YOU understand that I think you can’t take me buying toys and not get me one?”. Daddy is boiling and his face is really red but he doesn’t say anything. He starts the car and we leave the parking lot to drive to the store with the worker pants.

We don’t drive long and Daddy is still red in the face and I’m hiding a tear because I’m so angry at Daddy. I can never have anything because I’m the oldest and I’m too big and I don’t need it, anyway, because we have babies at home I should play with, and not toys and dolls. And suddenly, Daddy doesn’t say anything. But he grabs a fist full of my hair and smashes and throws my head around and screams, but I don’t understand because there’s a stabbing pain in my head. He is still driving with his left hand, and his right hand is slapping me in the face. I scream because I don’t know what else to do. Daddy stops at the side of the road, and he’s still screaming, and I hold my cheeks and ears because I’m so afraid. And when the car stands, he again grabs a fist full of my hair and holds my head tight so I can’t escape, and he beats me in the face with his other hand and screams, and I scream too and cry. And he doesn’t stop and my entire face hurts and burns and feels huge. He still screams, but now, I try to escape him, try to wiggle my way out of the seatbelt to get out of the seat, but I can’t, because Daddy’s fist is holding my hair and when I move away a bit, he pulls me back into the middle. And then he stops hitting me, but still holds me and I’m shocked and not sure if I should cry. And he says “DO YOU UNDERSTAND?” and I lie and say “Yes, Daddy, I’m sorry.” but I didn’t understand anything and I don’t know what I’m supposed to understand. “THEN BE A GOOD GIRL NOW!” he yells at throws my head to the side, letting go of my hair. He starts the car back up and we continue driving.

I’m crying and wipe my tears with my hands but it hurts bad. My nose is running too and I wipe it with my hands. It’s full of tears and sliminess from my nose and touching my nose causes a stabbing pain. But then I see there’s blood too. My hands shake and I grab a pack of tissues from the pocket of my dress. I want to clean my nose but I can’t because it’s so painful. I dab the blood and tears off it, tho, and then it really comes running down. The blood drips on my hands and dress and I can’t do anything to stop it. I hold the tissue under my nose. It doesn’t take long until the tissue is nothing but a dripping wet blob of broken pieces full of tears and blood. I take the clean tissues out of the plastic pack and put the dripping wet one in to avoid a mess. I have only two tissues left and by the rate I filled up the first one, the other two won’t last till we are back home. I crouch against the window and I want to make sounds like a dying animal, but I’m afraid it will upset Daddy.

We arrive at the clothes store and I ask Daddy to leave me in the car but he says no. So I get out and follow him into the store, quietly, quietly, looking down. When there’s a mirror, I look around to make sure nobody sees me, and I look at my face. It’s bright red and the nose and upper lip are swollen up really bad. There’s stains of blood on my face and dress. I wet the tissue with some spit and wipe my face as good as I can, but it hurts really bad. I look for Daddy and stand behind him quietly as he browses through the pants. A woman greets him and by the voice I can tell it’s a nice old lady from our community. She sees me and say “Oh and Lisa is here too! Hello Lisa!” and she looks at me. I look down but she sees it anyway and says “Oh goodness, what happened to Lisa?”. Daddy smiles and says “She was a disobedient brat at the toy store and this is what she got from it.” He sounds really proud when he says it and he pets my head with his hand. The Lady just frowns at me and says “Well it looks really bad, you might have to see a doctor.” and Daddy says “No, she’ll be fine. If she’s repentant, she’ll heal up just fine without a doctor.” They talk a little bit more but not about me and then the Lady leaves.

At some point, a shop lady comes over to ask us if we need her help. And when she sees me, she looks shocked and say “You’re bleeding really bad!” but my Dad says, Oh no worries, she’ll be fine. But she keeps looking at me weirdly and before we leave I ask her “Can A ‘ave A tishoo ples” and I realize I can’t speak normal anymore. And she says of course and gets me a whole pack and carefully strokes my cheek and whispers “It’ll be fine”. I nod and say ” ‘Ank you.”

My hands are stained with blood in the car, I stare at them. My face burns like fire and hell, but when I carefully touch the skin, the skin’s numb and thick with swollenness.

When we get home, my Mom sees me, but Daddy says “She needed a lesson” and Mommy just nods. I’m sent to my room to go to bed, but it’s only 4 in the afternoon, and I go anyway. I stay up long, until Mommy calls me down and I’m really afraid of what will happen. I come downstairs and see they have already eaten but I wasn’t asked to come. My Mommy says “Lisa, Daddy and I decided you’re allowed to get a cooling pack from the freezer.” I nod and get one out, wrap it in a small towel and put it on my face. My Dad gives me a slice of bread with some butter on it and says “Go back to your room, I don’t want to see you any more today. It’s bedtime for you now.” I nod again and quickly go upstairs.

In my room, I take a bite of bread but my front teeth hurts biting it and chewing it makes my face hurt again, so I let it be. I touch my nose, trying to press a little to feel if the bone was broken, but it hurts like crazy and I still can’t feel the bone because it’s swollen, so I let that be too.

I lay in my bed with the cooling pack on my face and try to pray but I can’t.

I really hate Daddy right now. And I don’t like Jesus either. And I’m angry at God.


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Training up this child – Part 19 – Meet me at high noon

I spent a few days thinking about the little hint my mother gave me. Close to an engagement? My mom didn’t say that just out of a mood. No parent in the movement says that out of a mood. They don’t give us any idea of what’s going on until the last second. When a guy is interested in you, but they don’t like him, you’re not being told. If a guy has interest in you, and they tell you, you can be sure that they have been in contact with him for weeks and sometimes even months, examining him, and actually giving him permission to enter a relationship with you. As a daughter, you are usually the last to know about your own love life.

Now, the fact that my mother said something about a close engagement meant that Harry must have asked for permission from dad already, and that dad agreed and gave him permission to ask me. My mother would be involved in this process of evaluation at a very late time, about when dad had already decided to give Harry the permission to ask me, then he would ask for my mother’s opinion before telling Harry what his decision was. I now knew that Harry had permission to ask me, and he’s probably had it for a while. He might have even already bought a ring.

It hit me like a ton of bricks. Within the next few days or weeks, I would be asked to marry him. Engagements were typically kept very short, and Harry’s and my courtship has been pretty long due to the big distance. Just to give you a short reminder: Harry and I’s courtship started when I was 18, almost 19 (I’m born in March and the courtship started December before I turned 19) so we were courting for over 3 years. That’s a crazy long time in the movement. I know it might have felt just like six months or something when you read my posts about my courtship, but they were condensed, not bothering with the time between the visits and big events were effectively nothing happened except for my daily routine of being a stay-at-home-daughter while Harry was on different mission trips and preparing to make a living and save up some money in order to be fully prepared to support a wife and a baby within 9 months of marriage. I didn’t even describe all of Harry’s visits because they were simply uneventful. So let’s get this back on track: My mother made the remark about the engagement some time at the end of March.

I knew I didn’t have much time left. Engagements are typically short. A three-month engagement would be a long time in our group. The average engagement time is around 4-6 weeks, and all of that time is used for marriage preparations as the majority of the “falling in love” and “making the decision” was supposed to be made prior to engagement. My insides were in a constant state of burning, my mind rattling. I saw the beginning of the rest of my life right in front of me. Once I was married, there was no way out anymore. I’d have to be obedient to my husband. I’d have to have kids, if I wanted or not. I realized that within the time of just one year at that moment, I might be sitting at home with a 2 month old. The thought alone made me dizzy. I was NOT prepared for any of that.

On the other side, I also started seeing things that were wrong in the movement. The engagement remark which left me so helpless, and feeling strongly in a position where every decision of my life was already made and agreed on didn’t suit me at all. I started dreaming of what I would do if I had the choice.

I wouldn’t get married for now. I’d started to regret hating school, so I also wished I could somehow go back to school and learn something useful. I always loved art, history and geography. I loved the universe and watching all the stars, wondering what they would look close up. I always loved big masses of ice and cold climate. I started to think that if I didn’t get married and wasn’t in the movement, I’d become a Nasa person, observing and calculating stars, thinking about big events in the universe. Or maybe I could become a geologist somewhere cold, like Antarctica, and research the processes in the ice and what happened a long time ago. I even considered becoming something like a paleontologist and study dinosaurs and climate way back. That was a thought unheard of in our family. All of these three professions were ungodly and against the bible, utterly humanist and naturalist. I was so curious to know things that are veiled to humanity, like times way before our time. But I was bad at math, I thought I might not be the right person for each of those three. If I couldn’t do it, I might just settle for some ancient culture studies. Egypt maybe, or south american ancient history.

During this process of thought I realized that I’d never make it anywhere close to that. I’d never be allowed to consider whether there’s life on other planets, or if the big bang is true. I’d never be allowed to think that humans and dinosaurs didn’t meet. I’d never be allowed to think that an old culture was anything but ungodly behaviour which died for a God reason – because God hated their unspeakable blasphemous acts.

I was getting frustrated with the life ahead of me. I knew I would die stupid and unhappy if I followed that road. The narrow path got really narrow, like walls coming closer and closer to each other, crushing your chest, leaving you unable to breathe. I decided that I had only one chance to escape this life. And that chance, funny enough, seemed to be Harry.

I went to Tiffany’s house with a plan in my mind. I needed to call Beth and ask for her help. After all, she was Harry’s sister, so she knew him much better than I did. Tiffany gladly agreed to let me call her. Beth was happy to hear from me after a rather long time of silence between us. She asked me a bunch of small talk questions but finally got to the point where she asked how things were between Harry and me. I explained her what my mother said, and she agreed with me that Harry proposing to me was very near, just within a few days range. I told her about my thoughts, that I wasn’t ready to be a wife and mother, that I wanted to be something else, that I wanted to decide some things on my own. Beth immediately suggested running away. I didn’t think of running away as the only chance for me yet, so I disagreed.

I told her about the plan I had come up with: I would ask Harry to leave the movement with me. We would keep the act up for our families, as I didn’t want to be cut off, but we’d live like the other people did. Normal. I’d tell him that he would get so many benefits from that lifestyle. That I’d make money, that we wouldn’t have to have that many kids, that we could have so much fun together as a worldly couple.

Beth didn’t sound convinced at all. “You know, Harry is deeply rooted in his beliefs. Some things he believes are outright stupid, but he believes that he loves Jesus more than anyone, that the movement is the only way to be saved. I don’t think he’ll give that up, no matter how much he loves you.”

“I can try. Maybe he secretly feels the same way.”

“Yes, Lisa, maybe, but then what? You’d still marry a man you don’t love. Do you know what that means? You’ll have to put up with his little faults every day. You’ll have to care for him in sickness, in poverty, and all that without love? Is that fair to you, or him? Can you really sleep with somebody you don’t love – every night? And act like you love him? That’s just a horrible thing to do.”

I hated how right Beth was. I was deeply ashamed that I had already acted like I was in love. My cheeks burnt at the realisation that the damage was done and I’d have to keep up this terrible act for the rest of my life. Out of sheer frustration, I told Beth:

“Well, then I’ll tell him the truth. And that he can have a girlfriend on the side who really loves him, so he gets the love he deserves and we’re both out of the movement!”

“Lisa, that is possibly the dumbest idea you’ve had since… ever. You know that won’t work. He could never do something like that. Not even worldly people do something terrible like that. That’s absurd and so crazy, I can’t even tell you just how stupid it is.”

She was right, of course, and I saw that I could never ask for such a thing from Harry. Too far was too far. But I still couldn’t give up.

“Yeah, you’re right.. I just don’t know what else to do. I’ll have to try to ask him though, that’s the least I can do.”

“Sure, go ahead and try, but you won’t get what you want. Just don’t break his heart more than you already have to. And if he says no, just run away and come to me, please. I’ll help you out.”

Beth gave me her address just in case, but I was sure I wouldn’t need it. I didn’t feel like I could sacrifice my family on the altar of my own desires just yet.

The next few days flew by, weekend came around. But something was different. Something was going on. My mother bought some expensive groceries and things we usually eat only for important events. She baked a lot of stuff and let me eat it. She kept hugging me constantly. My dad was nagging a lot about how I looked, how I acted. That it didn’t suit a grown woman. He’d never call me a grown woman. I knew the weekend would bring a change. Mom spent all friday cooking, preparing, baking, decorating, cleaning. She asked me to wear something pretty for dinner. Yeah, my parents were always terrible at surprising us kids. I knew that Harry and his family were coming over for dinner, even if they tried to keep it a secret from me.

Around 6 PM, the doorbell rang. In my mind, it sounded much shriller than it usually did. My mom asked me to open the door. I walked to the door in nervous, short-breathed steps. I slowly opened it, my face frozen in a helpless grimace, as if I had just watched an elephant eat sushi, and then fly away with his umbrella. In front of the door was Harry, flocked by his entire family. All of them had huge smiles on their faces and, almost simultaneously, they yelled “Surprise!”. I looked at Harry. He was wearing a rather fancy outfit. Dress pants, sparkling shoes, a white shirt and a tie. I stepped to the side in order for them to come in, still with my shocked expression on my face, murmuring something like “I didn’t expect you at all…”. Harry came in, looked into my eyes and gave me a little bouquet of flowers. Lillies. The ultimate engagement flower. I stood frozen until everyone found their way in. I pushed the door closed and the clicking sound of the lock reminded me that today was the day my sentence might be sealed.


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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.”

“It says CHILDREN OBEY YOUR PARENTS and I DID NOT ALLOW YOU TO HOLD HANDS!” he yelled.

“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.


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Training up this child- Part 17 – I want to hold your hand

This chapter has been particularly hard for me to write. Up to this day, I’m ashamed of what I did to a good person, out of a fanatic belief that only my “biblical” way was the right way. I realize that none of this was actually biblical. I have apologized many times to the person and I apologize again here to him as well as to everybody who feels like me, that a terrible thing has been done and the pain probably can’t be fixed.

While I was sitting on the couch with Tiffany, I slowly formed a plan. I was convinced Beth was wrong, and even more, I was convinced that she tried to pull me into her world of sin. She might just be so sinful that she herself wanted company in her sorry state. I felt like I needed to prove her wrong, no matter the cost. I was so hurt and confused, feeling betrayed by the only person I ever felt I could trust in. I gathered my emotions from Tiffany’s living room carpet, stuffed them into my little box and locked it up tightly. The only thing I decided to keep out was betrayal.

After I went home, I quickly excused myself from family life in order to pray and study. I sat down with my bible, rereading the passages which usually put me back into place over and over. Praying frenetically. I simply needed to prove Beth wrong. I needed to love Harry. And the way I figured out was the only way I ever learned about love: Love is actions, not emotions.

I started pacing things up with Harry. I wanted to prove, by actions, that I did in fact, love him. My first step was to call him more often. I chewed on my parents until they would allow me half an hour each day. They were a bit sceptic at first, but seeing that things were moving closer to engagement and marriage, they finally gave in. The first few days, Harry didn’t comment it at all but seemed very pleased. After a week or so he finally asked me why I called him that often. I had waited for that question like a predator for its’ prey. “Well, because, you know, I like talking to you. A lot. I just want to hear your voice more often.” He went quiet but somehow, through the silence, I could hear his excitement. He was very cheery after that, laughing a lot, telling a lot of funny stories. I laughed like I had never heard anything funnier. Manipulative? Yes, a lot. That’s what you get from raising your kids to be emotional nutjobs.

The following weekend Harry visited again, for the first time without his family. Due to lasting stress with Beth, they wanted to stay at home, settling things. Harry had gone through a fight to be allowed to stay at my house for a night.

We had quite some fun on that weekend and I had prepared a number of things (actions) that I could do to show him my “love”. I made a very special snack for him. You need to know that my mother actually isn’t American but an immigrant and I know how to cook a lot of stuff from her home. He was ecstatic, a huge smile on his face while eating, not getting enough of telling me just how good of a chef I am.

After that, we spent some time doing garden work which he helped me with, lots of talking and just sitting around with my siblings, playing games. In retrospective I have to admit, these times were bliss for me too. The fact that he was alone there and everything went great made me feel… right. I felt so superior to Beth with her boyfriend, living in some what I imagined could only be a rat hole, probably doing things I couldn’t even imagine.

One of my sisters, a very wild, energetic personality, came up with the idea that we should play Tag outside. We all agreed and went outside to play. It was a beautiful evening with warm, orange light shining. Harry was just great with kids, giving everybody the chance to tag him and acting extra slow to make the slower runners feel good about themselves. It was a lot of screaming and laughing going on. There was somewhat of a silent agreement that Harry and I wouldn’t tag each other as we weren’t allowed to touch at all. Whenever either of us was tagged, the other didn’t run but stand somewhat in the middle watching. I ended up being tagged (the smaller ones always tagged either Harry or me) at some point, kind of out of breath, standing in the middle holding my sides and watching over the field of giggling siblings running close and off again. Harry stood a step or two from me, obviously not in the least out of breath. I decided to do something wild, knowing that both of my parents were neglecting to watch us. I took a step to the side and just slightly brushed Harry’s arm with my palm. He looked at me somewhat shocked. Not sure what to do. “Well Harry, I’m guessing I just tagged you…” and ran off with the smaller ones. It took him a moment to realize the situation and he started laughing again, chasing the smaller ones down, making funny noises for them.

As dinner was ready, we ate together and spent some time with a short bible study. As it was getting dark outside and my mom brought the kids into bed, my dad got busy doing some more (unnecessary) garden work in order to be able to watch me and Harry while we sat outside in the garden on a bench. We just watched the sun set and the stars rise, not talking at all. I thought about the day we spent together. We had a great time and Harry was everything a woman could ask for and more. And he seemed to love me. For the first time ever I realized that I actually did care about Harry. It was what I today can only consider a form of love like you love somebody you admire their qualities. A person who’s your friend with qualities you wish your lover had, but that person isn’t quite your lover, if that makes sense. After what must have been an hour we went to bed.

The next morning was quiet and calm. We went to church, something we did only on occasion when my dad thought the sermon was good for us. We ate lunch and Harry still had some more hours left before he had to drive back home.

Sunday was relaxing day and I managed to convince my parents to let Harry and me take a walk on the field at the back of our house. They could still see us from the garden and after some objections agreed.

We walked around talking about this and that, plans for future visits, his schedule at work, when the best time for our phone calls were. At some point he looked around as if he was trying to make sure nobody was watching us too closely. He lifted his hand to stroke a bit of my shoulder. “You’re tagged. It’s your turn to say something now.” he said. I didn’t get what he wanted from me at all but I tried to come up with something. “I really enjoyed the weekend. It was great getting to spend so much time talking. Doesn’t work with all the siblings around like usually.” We both went quiet and the silence felt uncomfortable to me. I touched his arm and said “Tag, your turn now.” He smiled and went on talking about the snack I had made and how much he was hoping that he’d always get good food like that. We stopped walking was the way before us would have been our of sight for my parents. Looking around again, he took my hand and I felt for the first time how hard his skin was, worked down hands, now sweaty from what I can only guess what his nervousness. He looked at my fingers in his hand, fiddling around on them with his thumb. “You know, you have pretty hands. I like pretty hands on women. I was really doubting if this courtship was a great idea. I liked you before but you always seemed distant, like you had a hard time dealing with me. And now it’s so different.” “Yes” I said because it was really the only thing I could say. “Was it because of my family?” he asked me. “It’s always because of the family. Everything is because of the family.” I figured that was a smart way to avoid a real, honest answer. “Do you love me?” he wanted to know. I thought about it for a moment and came up with the only answer possible for a woman in the movement. “It’s not my job to go hunting for you, confessing and asking things a man should confess and ask.” He nodded and said “Well, I do.” I nodded and smiled but didn’t know what to say. After what felt like minutes, I blurted out the only definition I could come up with. “I call you a lot. I like talking to you. I made you a snack and I will do that and a lot more if we get married. So what do you think?” And poor Harry, who grew up believing just the same crap about love, smiled, thinking that I just told him that I really did.