Someone who understands

Do you have any idea how nice it is to meet someone who understands? As in, someone who really understands?

To most people I’ve met since starting college, I’m just the girl with the crazy background. I’m the girl with a million siblings, the girl who had a weird upbringing, the girl who doesn’t quite fit in. People are nice about it and all, but they don’t understand. How could they? It’s not part of their world.

But then there are the people you run into randomly who do understand, and meeting them is like a drink of cold water in the desert. It’s like a breath of fresh air in a stagnant room. It’s like living in a foreign country and meeting someone from your home state; you’ve never met before, but there’s an instant connection, an instant understanding.

I met the first several years ago, and we have since become best friends though we live far apart. She was, like me, homeschooled by conservative religious parents, and like me, she had left her parents beliefs, and not without tension. Like me, she had flirted with Catholicism on her way to leaving religion altogether. We had grown up on the same messages, read the same magazines, gone to the same sorts of seminars, and met the same leaders. When I spoke, she understood. When she spoke, I understood. We had a common cultural currency, and meeting her was like finding a soul mate. I could finally really let my hair down. We laughed together, we cried together – it meant so much to me.

I have met others since then.

There was the girl I knew growing up but had since lost track of whose facebook page I suddenly realized was devoid of any mention of God. I messaged her delicately, she replied just as delicately, and suddenly the floodgates opened and we learned of our common experiences. On her way out of evangelicalism, she had tried out Episcopalianism before leaving religion. She talked of her parents’ reaction, of their fear, their anger, their rejection. We connected in that moment; we understood each other.

There’s the guy I’ve met this semester who grew up Baptist and is today agnostic. He came out as gay in college, and his parents and pastor ran interventions and tried to fix him. He, too, became Catholic before leaving religion altogether. We talked and talked and talked, comparing experiences. Amazingly, he had actually heard of Quiverfull and knew what it was. He understands me.

Then there are those I have met through blogging, and one blogger in particular (you know who you are!). We compare experiences, we compare hopes and dreams, we compare fear and concerns. Our backgrounds are so similar that we actually realized we were once at the same camp, though we did not know each other then. She understands me.

Those moments of understanding mean something. Those moments of finding someone else who has walked a similar path, someone who actually really understands you and your experiences, are priceless. In a world where I am sometimes I afraid I will never really fit in, those moments give me hope.

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • Merbie


  • Jerusha

    Absolutely! (And finding your blog was one of those moments!)

  • Anonymous

    Libby Anne,I can relate but in a different way. I am presently mostly homebound due to being physically disabled. It too is a lonely world with what feels no one truly understands. I agree, it is truly a breath of fresh air for sure, when someone seems to understand what your world must be like. May your new found friendships blossom.Beverly

  • Ashton

    I completely understand. I grew up Seventh-day Adventist and I feel like the only people who really get me are those who grew up SDA but are now non-religious. It's nice when I can talk about veggie meat, Sabbath School, Pathfinders, and rules against jewelry and dancing and people know what I'm talking about. In normal day to day life I censor out those things because I know that I will have to explain myself. It's exhausting. The best dating relationship that I've ever had was with someone who thought as I do but comes from a backgroud like mine too. We are few and far between. I love meeting people who have been able to break away from out backgrounds.

  • Libby Anne

    Ashton – "In normal day to day life I censor out those things because I know that I will have to explain myself. It's exhausting."Amen to that! I cannot say how grateful I am when someone on the outside knows what "Quiverfull" means and is familiar with the movement. It saves a lot of time and trouble!

  • Melissa

    (((Hugs!))) So glad to have found someone who understands. I find myself remembering how Anne of Green Gables would call them "Kindred Spirits". Someone you can be be yourself with and not be judged, someone who gets what you are saying even when you aren't saying anything. Someone you don't have to censor yourself for. You are one of those people, and that does give me hope.

  • Anonymous

    Libby,I am curious as to why so many seem to have a brush with Catholocism, Orthodoxy, or the Episcopal Church before leaving Christianity altogether. I would love to hear your perspective on this. Maybe you could consider blogging some day about your time as a Catholic? ie, what led you to it, and what led you away? Leah

  • Libby Anne

    Leah – I've been thinking about doing just that, because you're right, it's a weird sort of coincidence that a good number (though of course not all) of evangelicals and fundamentalists who leave religion altogether seem to use Catholicism, or another church with high liturgy, as sort of a way stop on the way out. I have some thoughts on why that is, and hopefully they'll translate into an upcoming post. :-)

  • Glen

    Libby, just wanted to say kudos for the work you do here! My mum linked me to the blog, and I've been lurking/reading for a few months now, it's nice to see someone willing to confront a difficult past in order to help others. So thanks! :)

  • Glen

    P.S. Meant to include this in the above, I'm scatterbrained prepping to leave for classes. :P The pool of commenters here who understand the need for people to work together despite disagreements on belief never cease to amaze and inspire me. :)

  • Naomi

    Yes, yes! I wish we former fundies had a symbol–something like the LGBTQ-safe space symbol–that we could use to identify each other. I have a strong suspicion that we are rubbing shoulders with each other far more often than we realize. I hate the constant self-censoring–and the accompanying wonder of what potential friendships we am missing in the process of trying to pass as "normal."

  • Lisa

    Libby,I just happened on your blog today. I wanted you to know that you're doing something incredible here. This path can feel so lonely. I understand exactly how you feel – I'm always on the lookout for people who will be able to understand my experience! Thank you so much for sharing and making the way a little less lonely.- Lisa

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