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?

The Cold, Unforgiving World of Geoffrey Botkin
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What the Ruff, the Spotted Hyena, and the Cuttlefish Taught Me about Gender and Sexuality
A Letter from Jesus and Living in Fear
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.

  • S. Lane

    Yes, yes, and more yes! This post gave me chills because it’s something so important to me. Thank you for writing it.

    One day, when I was still wrestling with leaving Christianity, I stumbled upon a deconversion story on YouTube. Before that day, I thought people who left Christianity were “not true Christians”, were too foolish to see that Christianity was The Obvious Truth (i.e., your post “I never had faith”), or who just wanted to live sinful, self-centered lifestyles. I felt like something was wrong with me for questioning; it had never occurred to me that there were people like me who had legitimate objections about Christianity. When I found that video (and subsequently other ex-Christian resources), a floodgate opened in my mind. That was the day I admitted to myself that I was an atheist. Finding out I wasn’t alone was what it took to let go of my faith and let it die. I didn’t have to feel like it was my fault that I couldn’t be a Christian. I no longer had to try to be somebody that I didn’t want to be. It was an indescribably liberating feeling.

    I had a similar feeling when I found your blog. I was raised homeschooling QF, although I didn’t get too much CP, but even so, so much of what you write here reflects my feelings exactly. It sounds silly, but I nearly started crying when I found your blog because I was (again) so overwhelmed by the feeling that I was not alone. Even though I have never met you and you don’t even know who I am, I feel like you understand me. I am deeply grateful for what you write here and for how much it has helped me to heal and grow.

  • http://www.pasttensepresentprogressive.blogspot.com Latebloomer

    My experience has been so similar to yours….I found NLQ and then found the other ex-fundamentalist homeschooled daughter blogs from there, and then started blogging my own story. It’s SO good not to feel alone, and so beautiful to be able to help other people by sharing your story. I told Sierra that we all need to have a “high school reunion” of sorts one day, haha :D.

  • Contrarian

    My experience is completely different from yours, but I’m happy you’ve found people like you :)