11/29/2012 | Share this article: View CommentsBy Joanne ~
I am presently 20 years old. I was raised in a Christian home with very devout parents and an sister two years older than me, who I would consider to be my best friend. We were raised going to church every Sunday. Mom read devotions to us every night for a while, before she got tired of doing it or something, and then it would stop for a while, and then we'd start doing it again. This was undoubtedly my least favorite part of my religious indoctrination: listening to my mother's droning voice go on for what felt like forever on a subject that I had no interest in and couldn't escape from. Our church did not allow women to speak, pastor, or teach, so that really messed up my beliefs on gender roles, because I knew I'd never fit them. I could never be the homemaker that "God" supposedly wanted me to be as a good little woman.
My father was surprisingly passive in our religious upbringing (and most parts of family life. My mom was about as passive as a steamroller about most things...) until I was old enough to think for myself and actually start asking real questions (about age 14 or 15, I would say). He's a loving leader if ever there was one, but unfortunately so blinded by his faith. No interest in science, it seems, but totally absorbed in politics and religion. My sister said to me recently in exasperation, "Dad is so smart. How can he believe this stuff?"
I was definitely the good little Christian girl. I was picked on a lot, but obviously bulling is not a problem to be solved in Christian eyes, because we are to expect persecution. My mother was involved in every aspect of my life, and it really inhibited my social functioning because I had to walk on eggshells all the time so as not to do something that she would have a problem with. Having to hide behind a mask with one's own family doesn't exactly bode well with their ability to make friends. I volunteered at the Bible camps, the church, and even spent a year volunteering in a Christian drug and alcohol treatment facility. I was well-rounded in everything the church would have thought I should be.
During this time, I was also molested by my piano teacher's son, who is 6 years my senior. When part of what had happened came out, my mother (despite me being only 15 at the time it came to light and only 8 or so when it happened) seemed to think it was my fault. She asked me if I "thought it was cool that an older guy was interested" in me. I will never forget those words, and they have damaged me to my very core to this day. I never trusted her enough to tell her what really happened and how serious it was, and I doubt I ever will. I downplayed her when she confronted me about it because I felt like the truth would only make her angrier with me. I don't think she ever told my dad.
So, then high school came. I got a boyfriend, was an excellent student, and my life was looking like it was on track. It was an unspoken rule in our family that after high school, I would go to the Bible School in my city, the Plymouth Brethren-based Bible School. You can imagine the things I was exposed to there. My Church History teacher actually believed that Scientology and Christian Science were the same thing. I argued with him on it and actually had to prove him wrong. That's how clueless some Christians are about other religions, apparently. I spent a lot of time with these Christian girls who were all utterly convinced that God's plan for their lives was to have them marry a good Christian husband and pop out babies. That was never going to be me, and they and I all knew it. They made me promise to never have kids.
So I left Bible School utterly clueless about life, single, and feeling pretty unsteady. Then a few months later, I was raped by a guy who I can reasonably assume was high on cocaine. A rather freak incident of a date gone wrong, I guess. Realizing that the Bible has absolutely nothing comforting to say on the subject, I moved on in my faith. I saw a counselor at my parents' church a few times, but she really wasn't helpful and they obviously didn't care about anything other than my faith. They really didn't care about me. Since I left their church, I have yet to hear from anyone there that I knew. I have since developed an eating disorder, most likely as a result of all of these things combined.
But, the clouds have silver linings.
I have been with my wonderful boyfriend for more than a year now, and he has an adorable 3-year-old son. I am on the Board of Directors for the Wiccan temple in my city(the High Priestess told me it was my job to tell the other members when they're being "old farts", as she put it) and have regained my lost spirituality. Food, my weight, and body image remain a constant struggle, as is common with survivors of the type of abuse I have endured, but I'm working through it day by day. What I do know is that God deserves no place in my life.
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