Open Thread – Reclaiming Life Post Quiverfull?

Open Thread – Reclaiming Life Post Quiverfull? December 12, 2015
Preparing to bake fruitcake from my great grandmother’s recipe.

Are there things you used to do before you joined the Quiverfull or Evangelical Movement that you’ve reclaimed after leaving? Or perhaps something you loved to do while you were a Fundamentalist that after leaving the very idea of makes you gag until you heal enough to realize you’re still going to do that thing you love?

For me it was baking bread, really baking anything. I rarely, if ever, baked bread, cakes or rolls before I joined a Fundamentalist church, but as I fell in line with the other ladies I started to bake and cook everything from scratch. Before religion cookies were the only thing I regularly baked. For a very long time after leaving I could not bear to bake or even think about cooking anything more complex than heating up a can of soup or a frozen pizza. Everything about the kitchen, something I used to love so dearly, became completely abhorrent to me. In the last year I’ve finally come full circle and started cooking and baking again, thinking screw them and their insistence that home cooking and baking was so ‘righteous’.  It’s not ‘righteous, it’s simply part of day to day life and it happens to be something I enjoy doing. Why was I letting them dictate my likes or dislikes or activities?

What about you? What have you had to reclaim from the wreckage of religion?

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  • I’ve reclaimed my sense of self. I grew up Mormon, and so much of my life was the church telling me who I was. As a female, I was nurturing and kind. Meant to be a mother and needed to develop skills like obedience, listening, housekeeping, and honoring the priesthood. As a wife, I was taught the mysteries of womanhood. Primarily that bearing children is my ultimate goal and revering my husband, while serving the church.
    Since I’ve left, I’ve had to figure out who I really am, what I want, and who I want to be. I’m not even close to that last one, but at least I am making the choices I want, instead of being pressured into fitting into someone else’s idea of a woman.

  • Karen the rock whisperer

    I didn’t grow up in an Evangelical environment, but my mother was a Catholic traditionalist who felt that women needed to be self-denigrating. So I had trouble accepting compliments. For example, if I made something really tasty, I could only take credit for it if I said that it was really easy, like it was a nothing thing. I remember the first night that I made the entire dinner by myself; I was young enough that it really was quite an achievement. But I was told in no uncertain terms that I did NOT make it by myself, that Daddy provided the money for the groceries, and my parents provided the kitchen for me to work in. God forbid I should get credit for my work!

    So, as an adult, I’ve had to learn how to graciously accept compliments without self-denigrating. I’ve had to learn the power and appropriateness of simply saying “thank you”. I’ve had to learn to answer “that was a lot of work!” with “yes, but I enjoyed doing it” instead of belittling the task. And in the process, I’ve discovered that the people on the receiving end of that “thank you” really want it that way.

  • Jennny

    I discovered the freedom to join non-church clubs that fed my creative side – a gardening club, a flower-arrangers group and a crafting club. I could do this now without feeling guilty if I didn’t ‘witness’ to fellow members. I didn’t feel uneasy because I wasn’t actively working towards getting some of them to come to my church and get converted! I just became more alive by exploring my favourite hobbies without looking over my shoulder worried about the ‘sinfulness’ of these secular activities.

  • Steph Lane

    Thank you for sharing this! I thought I was the only one. My mother was a controlling homeschooling mother who often twisted the bible to control me. Something I love is martial arts! As a woman that was deemed “too manly” and I was taught that no man would want me. But the freedom it gives me when I’m out on a floor in my bare feet and heaven forbid! Fighting men! And keeping up with them. My sensei was amazing he demonstrated what inner peace truly was and taught us all that man, woman, and child are all equal. Which leads me to what is hardest for me to do: Read my Bible. So much of it has been misquoted to me but I have found SO MUCH stuff in there I never knew what was in there. Other Christians I encourage you to read the story of Sheera…who built a CITY! I would have NEVER heard THAT at a Bible study where the emphasis was “purity purity purity”. Another thing I cannot do anymore is anything related to forestry or animals as I was forced to do farm work from a young age oftentimes that was used as an excuse to keep me from doing extra curricular actives. I am a newlywed to a Catholic man and to accept his love was hard because I had been trained to take orders, not to be valued and part of a team. He is God’s gift to me my husband. There are so many times I look at him and just cry because I can’t believe a man loves me without harming me or disrespecting me. I hope you all find true happiness who are struggling to conquer the traumatic pasts we have overcome!

  • Steph Lane

    I’m so glad for you that you are on this journey! I’ve struggled with similar issues of self identity. Just remember whatever you decide to be you are enough! 😀

  • Steph Lane

    I went through the same thing! When someone paid me a genuine compliment such as telling me I was attractive I would panic and think I was causing “lust”. And any scholastic achievement I would say “I can do this until I have children” I’m sorry you lived through this. And here is a compliment for you: It was very brave of you to share this.

  • Karen the rock whisperer

    Thank you.

  • Nightshade

    Same here. It’s been a bumpy road learning to just say ‘thank you’ for a compliment!

  • Amanda Morrow

    I guess I’m still struggling to figure it out. I cut my hair somewhat short, I don’t wear skirts anymore. I grew up in a very conservative religious house but not fundamentalist. I joined a fundamentalist church of my own volition at the age of 20 (there was a lot of campus evangelism, and I was there because of a guy I was interested in). And then I was caught, for the next 8 years. I am lonely.. all of my friends were part of the church, and interacting with outsiders was viewed with suspicion. Love bombing techniques were used quite a lot so I developed all of these artificially close relationships really quickly. I feel like my friendship making abilities were stunted by this environment.

  • Nightshade

    I haven’t really reclaimed anything specific, the few things that I enjoyed doing then I never stopped once I was calling my own shots. The rest has been replaced with new (to me) activities that I find much more rewarding, and yes, just plain fun!

    Not sure how much of this is dumping things because I did them ‘then’ and how much is simply my preference, but I don’t enjoy wearing dresses or skirts anymore-I own a grand total of 1 dress, and it’s definitely not my ‘back then’ style!-and I may never let my hair grow long enough to reach my shoulders again.

  • Astrin Ymris

    I was raised Mainline– United Methodist– but I also had a lot of difficulty accepting compliments, especially as a young woman.

  • Olivia

    Maybe it is just on my mind because it is that time of year again– but Christmas. My parents really took the joy out of it and added a boat load of guilt to everything. I remember having a panicky pang of guilt and anxiety whenever a Santa related Christmas song was played or I noticed a Santa Claus hat tossed across my grandmother’s couch. Terrified my grandmother was going to hell, but even more terrified about the inevitable scene my mother was going to make. Christmas time has just been fraught with “the reason for the season” for me every since I was very little to the point that it was just one long season of worrying that I wasn’t getting it right and that getting it wrong had eternal implications. Now that I have come out of it I finally rid the season of any spiritual meaning. I am still a christian, but I can appreciate a man made holiday for exactly what it is. It feels so good to watch “The Grinch” with my kids and not have to look uncomfortably around to see if some authority figure will switch it off the minute he dons a Santa disguise. In fact it just feels good to play Santa with my children, to understand the magic of the holiday for all of its beauty without having to do mental gymnastics to force all of the love and goodwill into being a Christian thing rather than just a life thing.

  • Friend

    You sound great! Whatever abilities you want will come with time. It’s good that you understand what happened in that environment. Do things that you enjoy, and your contentment will shine through.

  • SAO

    Lots of people had their social educations interrupted for various reasons and people with social parents learned at a lot younger age than those of us with asocial parents. You learn, you grow, all of us struggle with something.