10 things that happen when you leave the Quiverful/Patriarchal movement

10 things that happen when you leave the Quiverful/Patriarchal movement October 4, 2010

by Ima Wakenow

The following is a list of things that come to your awareness about the QF/P life once you are out of it for quite sometime.  This is just a partial list of realizations that most of the women who escaped have had in the years following their liberation.

1. You realize you weren’t the only one.
This one is huge and that is why I list it first.  Inside the QF/P movement you are told you are wrong for having doubts.  Wrong for being disgruntled.  Wrong for having desires.  Eventually you find that you can not sustain a life of self sacrifice never attending to your own essential needs.  You may question everything you feel since you were told you can not trust your own perceptions.  When you walk away from the QF/P bondage you meet other people that have similar stories.  The shock you experience can be intense.  There are many many women out there just like you that have been duped.  They, too, were sucked into a movement with an ideal that can not work.  It can be disheartening but also very liberating to realize you are not alone.  There are others that have been there.  Others who understand.  Many others that can support you.  The QF/P system is broken.  And the problem is not you.

2. You can relax because no one is watching to see if you are eating only homemade bread.
The pressure inside these groups to conform can be intense.  Even what you eat is scrutinized.  You had better be making your own bread and kefir and cloth diapers.  The pressure at each potluck is palpable.  Heaven forbid you bring a bag of chips and a two liter of soda.  At home you better have your five gallon buckets all lined up with your bulk grains and *gasp* is that cold cereal I see?  Someone needs to educate you on the holiness of the Nutrimill and Bosch mixer.  In the very least people will refuse to eat your food.  At the worst they’ll think you are trying to poison your family.  Once you are out you can buy bread at the store without apology.

3. You can visit a local doctor and not have to hide it.
In the QF/P movement they are just on the fringe of faith healing.  Very few would actually say that you are ill because you didn’t have enough faith but then again…In any case all doctors are part of the establishment and are not to be trusted.  After all, they are indoctrinated by the evil government and want to destroy our children.  Within the QF/P circles there is always someone who is the resident herbalist and she can tell you what herb is good for what ailment. Of course, if you are a good helpmeet you learn these things yourself.  It is good to know that now you can go get a topical cream or antibiotic to heal yourself quickly if you don’t have the time or energy for herbal help.

4. You can be honest about your financial situation be it good or bad.
The rule in this group is that everything is wonderful.  You can never admit that you are not making your bills, your house is in foreclosure or (*gasp*) you are using food stamps.  God provides for the faithful and you are clearly being faithful by having so many babies.  And if your money situation is precarious there is always the question of whether you are spending it wisely.  Are you being a thrifty shopper?  Making everything from scratch?  Cloth diapering?  Maybe you are hindering your husband’s latest business venture with your nagging.  If you admit how tight things are doesn’t that mean your husband is not the fabulous provider you have been claiming he is?  It is very freeing to be able to say “We are having a tight month because there were car repairs that needed to be made.” and everyone understands that these things happen.

5. You have energy again because you are not pregnant/nursing.
Pregnancy takes a toll on your body.  This is common sense.  Everyone knows that carrying around 25-40 (or more) extra pounds would slow you down and make you more tired.  Add to that caring for the little ones you already have and it makes sense that you are exhausted.  Nursing a baby may actually cause you to sit down and rest more often than you normally would but it also adds to the stress because of all the other things that aren’t getting done while you are snuggling the newest sweet baby.  Also consider the fear of getting pregnant again and this facet of the QF life is a fraught with nervousness.  It is quite a relief to know that you can begin to heal from all that stress now and focus on what you already have instead of worrying about future pregnancies.

6. You quit beating yourself up for every little failure.
Not being perfect in body and mind is a sign of failure.  Not only are you supposed to not be tired but you are not supposed to think about being tired.  Don’t worry about money.  Don’t obsess over your work load.  Don’t think.  When you take every thought captive that includes any complaints or grumblings that might try to sneak into your head.  Once you are out of the QF/P prison you realize that no one is perfect and you can’t be perfect.  This enlightenment allows you to accept other people without condition and more importantly accept yourself.  You can appreciate your strengths and embrace your weaknesses, even loving them.  The pressure you were under was immense.  But you don’t know that until it’s gone.

7. You can be honest about your children (they’re human).
One of the biggest parts of the bondage of QF/P is that your *children* must behave a certain way. Yes, you have to bring your own body and thoughts into submission but then you are charged with the insurmountable task of controlling a plethora of young people.  Children should do what you say the first time, no questions asked.  Their manners should be impeccable and mistakes should be so rare they are hardly mentioned.  This is hard enough to accomplish within yourself but to convince 6 (or more) young people to embrace this unattainable goal?  To create an army of unquestioning robot children can seem do-able in the beginning but once they get closer to adulthood you start to wonder what the next trick is to keep them under your control.  Honesty about your children’s short comings and the ability to chuckle when one of them makes a faux pas is part of enjoying your children.

8. Your friendships are genuine and reciprocal
When you are in the QF/P movement you have like minded friends.  Everyone is doing the same things, talking about the same things, in the same place in life.  It is good.  Or is it?  What happens when you balk the system?  When you are down on your luck do those friends lift you back up or are you pelted with admonitions to pray harder, try harder, complain less?  More importantly what happens to these friends long term?  If you don’t tow the party line are you still in the club?  Friendships within the QF/P circle are conditional.  You don’t realize this until you have a crisis that causes you to leave the QF/P lifestyle.  But once you are gone you meet new, friendly people.  People that accept you the way you are.  They understand your faults and love you anyway.  You can have turmoil in your life and they stand by you and support you.  And you find that these friendships are not a competition, they aren’t draining and it’s a new feeling for you.  You now know what reciprocal means!!

9.  You don’t count the minutes/hours/days until that magical thing that is going to make your life bearable.

When you live the QF/P life things can be so stressful day in and day out that you end up creating a life raft.  You tell yourself things will be better when _____.  As in “Once I have this baby I’ll have the time to _____.” and “When the kids are a little older we can _____.” or “Once my husband finds a good job we will have the money for ______.”  The alternative is too painful to think about.  What if you never have the time or money for those hopes and dreams?  These are things that you feel strongly about.  Your desire to have certain things happen in your life is normal and natural.  So what do you do when it doesn’t look like those things are going to happen?  You create false hope.  You count the minutes to bedtime because tomorrow will be better.  You count the days until the next payday because that paycheck will be the one that gets you over the hump.  You count the months until the end of a pregnancy because you’ll have the energy to catch up with everything that is being left undone.  Once you are done with the QF/P lie you can change those things that seem to never get better on their own.  You stop waiting for the time to come when some other situation presents itself to make your life comfortable and you go out to change it.  You are not stuck, like a broken record, singing the same old song over and over.

10. You feel happy!!

Once you are free from all the pressure and condemnation you start to realize something astonishing about yourself.  You feel a feeling you haven’t felt in a very long time. It may take some contemplation to determine what exactly this new feeling is.  More than likely it’s an almost surreal peace that then allows you to experience real joy.  Yes, things are hard being a single parent and there are still troubles that come your way but the underlying feeling through all these trials is happiness and freedom.  And you didn’t know that you were so overwhelmed and dissatisfied until you experience what it’s like to be relieved of the expectations of the Quiverful/Patriarchal movement.  You’re free!!

Discuss this post on the NLQ forum. Comments are also open below ~ Feel free to add to the list!!

Read all posts by Ima Wakenow

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • nolongerquivering

    We were in the NLQ chat room last night making lists: 5 ppl you meet when you leave QF, 5 things I still like about QF (LOL ~ we couldn’t come up with 5) ~ and then Ima Wakenow suggested this one ~ and instead of 5, we came up with 11 or 12 …

    Please feel free to add to this list. Here are a few that I thought of:

    You finally get to a chance to enjoy the “blessings” of your children.

    You learn what PTSD is and what it means ~ and that you definitely have it.

    You finally experience that promised “JOY” which was so elusive when there was no “you” in qivering … !!

  • nolongerquivering

    Also, just to be sure that we are not painting leaving QF/P as absolute bliss ~ I’ll add these:

    You get angry. When I realized that I willingly cooperated in ~ and in many cases, initiated ~ the systematic oppression of myself and my children … yeah ~ sometimes I get steaming mad ~ at myself, at the patriarchs who push this shit on vulnerable families ~ and sometimes at God, when I’m in a mood to believe He exists long enough to cuss Him out royally.

    You feel cheated. Once I began to experience the peace, freedom and happiness outside of QF ~ when I saw my children blossoming ~ when I discovered that the “World” is not my enemy and “worldly” music, tv, movies, kids’ programs, etc. can be fun, entertaining and enjoyable ~ and knowing as I do now that fun is good and happiness feels awesome ~ I sometimes feel totally ripped off and a bit depressed because there’s no way to recover all those straight-laced years of “godly living.”

    You have a mess of unhealthy thought patterns and a backlash of trauma to process.

    You don’t hesitate to question authority and stand up for yourself and your children. This automatic response to the slightest perceived attempt to control can lead observers to conclude that you could possibly be developing Oppositional Defiance Disorder.

    Of course, when you see your children get into the act ~ they start to stand up for themselves, ask thoughtful questions, and completely freak out on anyone who would seek to abuse them ~ you know it’s been worth the trouble. 🙂

  • lisbet

    Vyckie- I had to pop in and say, tangentially that I heard your segment on NPR and I could listen to your voice all day. It’s so calming. You could be an effective therapist just by telling people stories 🙂

    I suppose that’s what you do, really.

  • Carolina

    I agree, Lisbet. Vyckie, you were wonderful on “The Story” on NPR. I know you were just being yourself, and that’s what made it so great. Your sincerity and genuineness really came through. Thank goodness people like you are lifting the veil on this oppressive way of life.

  • Vyckie, I have experienced so much of these when I left fundamentalism. Although the church I was in was not QF, the mindset was so similar. This kind of religiosity has infiltrated so many movements that were supposed to be good, but this is the problem..the movements were saddled with religion, rules, dictations and they are failing miserably. Hillary and I are working on a new project, sure would love to talk to you about it.

  • Debra

    …Also consider the fear of getting pregnant again and this facet of the QF life is a fraught with nervousness. This was stated in #5. Everything I’ve read from the QF people makes it sound as if it is a sin to be worried about getting pregnant again. Isn’t that part of the quiverfull mindset? To be nervous about getting pregnant would be a departure from the true quiverful mindset. Vykie, correct me if I’m wrong about that. One time I was reading Crystal Paine’s blog and she was talking about nursing one of her babies, but was quick to add that she didn’t want anyone to think that she had ulterior motives in nursing her baby for more than 6 months or so. It seemed ridiculous to me that she would worry that someone out there might think she’s nursing her baby to take advantage of the temporary infertility nursing affords. Gasp! someone might think she’s in sin. Makes me glad I never held to that philosophy.

  • Diane

    I have never been a part of this movement and my heart goes out to all of you and the sacrifices you have made and choices you have had to make.
    I have been married for 33 years. My husband and I have been partners in every sense of the word. We have suffered a child’s death early in our marriage. Due to my difficult pregnancies, I had a tubal. We have 3 wonderful adult children.

    I want to congratulate all of you for your courage to do what is right for your self and your children. Even at the darkest times, the light always follows.
    I will pray for all of you.

  • I am a brit who lives in Scotland and until I came across you on Twitter yesterday, Vyckie, had never heard of the QF/P movement. I’m pretty sure I still haven’t processed what it is, what it’s all about, or what it thinks it wants. All I know is that it sounds terrifying: like something Steven King or Margaret Atwood might have invented.

    I’m glad you have managed to break free and are able to publicise the horror of this movement. Glad, also, that you seem in fine mental health; I think I’d have gone quite mad in the situation you found yourself in. So, I just wanted to say: well done, and good luck for a free and blossoming future.

  • MetalGoddess

    I find this whole Quiverfull thing to be cultish and creepy. It really gives me the creeps the more I read about it. And there are politicians who are trying to outlaw contraception. A lot of people feel that there’s something seedier to this whole thing. Do these people who started this movement think they’re going to force it on everyone? That’s a scary thought. I admire you for standing up and deciding you aren’t going to take that shit anymore. I hope more of these women follow suit. I just can’t imagine living that and I will definitely kick anyone in the ass who thinks I should or will.

  • John Mack

    Having grown up among strong, independent, spunky but kind women (and men) I cannot imagine what it is like to live in one of these strange cults.

    I will say that once you accept that children have a right not to be perfect, and you remain fair and calm, it is possible to teach them very good manners by example and by instruction in a few basic rules. There’s no need for the extreme control these cults practice on children but there’s also no need for the agitation and misbehavior of children so common in America. It just a matter of making mutual respect work for everyone.

  • John Mack

    Forgot to add a quote (more or less) from Steven Pinker, the atheist evolutionary psychologist who teaches at Harvard: “To pursue the impossible is intrinsically morally corrupt.” He was referring to perfectionist schemes such as the New Socialist Man or religious cults or extremist secular doctrines of perfection. What you describe about this cult corrupts its members, stunts their moral life and seems especially designed to corrupt women into non-moral automatons. These cults undermine the common good.

  • John Mack

    Yes, they do want to force it on anyone. They want a Christian theocracy based on the Bible to replace the Constitution. Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann are part of this movement (involving carious cults). Bachmann has stated that she has obeyed her husband’s orders in all things, including getting a graduate degree in a subject she did not like and in running for public office. Yet these two are darlings of right wing America and traditional Republicans cower before them.

  • John Mack

    The general term for the Christian cults who want a US theocracy are Restorationists. They want to “restore” “God’s law” as found in the Old Testament, especially Leviticus, which contains Taliban like rules and murderous punishments.