On the importance of realizing you are not alone

When I first went through my struggles with my family and proclaimed my independence, I thought I was alone. I thought I was the only conservative homeschool kid to take the path I did and go through the trouble I had faced. I thought I was an oddball, alone, without anyone I could really identify with.

And then, shortly after beginning graduate school, I met Anna (name changed for privacy reasons). Anna was homeschooled, she attended the same sort of homeschool camps that I went to, and she had also become an atheist and a political progressive while in college. Like me, she was still keeping her atheism under wraps around her family. Meeting Anna changed everything for me. It meant I wasn’t the only one who had walked this path. It meant I wasn’t alone.

But while she had been raised in conservative Christian homeschool circles, Anna hadn’t been raised with Christian Patriarchy or Quiverfull ideology. These aspects of my childhood she did not understand – and really, neither did I myself at the time. I was still trying to sort through what it all meant, where it all came from, and how to explain what had happened. I thought I was the only one who had been through that – the huge number of siblings, the strict gender roles, the expectation that even adult daughters were to obey, and the pandemonium that erupted when I said no.

Then, one day, I stumbled upon No Longer Quivering. I read and read, engrossed. I started to understand where my parents’ beliefs had come from, and I realized, once again, that I was not alone. From No Longer Quivering I found bloggers who had grown up similarly to me and had similarly questioned and left. Melissa of Permission to live was one of them. Sarah of Enigma was another, and Darcy of Darcy’s Heart Stirrings and Dulce of Dulce de Leche and on and on. Oh, and Sierra of the Phoenix and the Olive Branch. And more. Again, I was not alone. And that meant the world to me.

When I started blogging, I wanted to share my story and network with others who had left, and to help others the way they had helped me. And indeed, every so often I get comments like these:

Blogs like yours help bring healing, because it shows me I’m not alone in dealing with these issues.

Just poured over your blog and read all 11 parts of your story. thank you with all my heart for writing so well. i thought i was the only little girl who got christmas presents from vision forum magazines. <3

I always love these comments because I remember how important the realization that I was not alone was to me. It helps to know you’re not alone. It helps to know you’re not the first person who has walked this path. It helps to know that there are others who understand. It can be encouraging, inspiring, or just plain comforting.

For me, meeting Anna and then finding No Longer Quivering and the blogs it led me to were extremely important parts of my journey – and important parts of healing. Talking to others who have gone through similar struggles and reading what they’ve written – I can’t underestimate the importance. And I’m glad – more than glad – to do that for others.

I sometimes wonder if the instant understanding I feel when I meet someone else who left the Christian Patriarchy/Quiverfull movement or the conservative Christian homeschooling movement in general is similar to the feeling an American living in Paris or Beijing might feel when meeting another American. I would imagine that the feeling of instant connection, of common backgrounds and common struggles and joys, is probably quite similar. But that rather makes sense – I’ve said before that I have often felt like a foreigner in my own country.

Have you ever had similar experiences, when you’ve realized that you weren’t alone?

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