“Me Too”

 

Some of the most comforting words ever said are “me too.”

 

So here we go:

 

Do you know that feeling that you get when you see a girl wearing a blue jean jumper?

 

The ones that are shapeless, low waist, faded denim, long hem?

 

The ones like our pseudo X-ATI girl {Miriam Reede} wears in her profile picture.

 

The ones that you wear a t-shirt under – many different colored t-shirts.  Oh the possibilities.

 

You know that cringing feeling you get?

 

You know how it felt to be her.

 

Me too.


You know how that girl feels to be somewhat ashamed that she has anything feminine, any indication of the sex that God made her, and she hides behind a blue jean jumper in hopes of disguising it.

 

You were her.

 

Me too.


Maybe it is equal parts: she’s heard so many words that have made her ashamed of her figure, and the adults in her life insist that this type of modesty is what God intends for her little body.

 

{What is modesty anyway?  And why do these people talk about it so much?}

 

You still wonder; there are still equal parts.  You still aren’t quite sure why a God who is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving would make something to be ashamed of.

 

And yet you feel ashamed.

 

Me too.


You are still wondering how much of that stuff to believe.

 

You’ve heard people speak, you’ve read sites like ours, you know so much of it was crazy – even a cult.

 

And yet you find yourself wondering: where does that end and I begin?

 

Me too.  I wonder, too.


You know how you feel when you pass the girl who has the white kerchief over her head and she imitates the older women in her life when she humbly says,

 

“I just want to show that my father is my authority.”

 

Me too.  I did that.  I remember how it felt at the time, and I remember it vividly today.


You wonder what went wrong.

 

You live with your parents, you’ve waited patiently, you wrote the journals, but at 28 your life is still where it was when you were 14 and you wonder why your patience hasn’t paid off.

 

You wonder if you’ll live in your pink bedroom forever if “a fellow” doesn’t come along who will ask your father if he can court you.

 

We know.


You regret not going past the eighth grade in math.

 

You regret it because it holds you back now from getting where you want to be.

 

At the time it sounded like a plan: you won’t need that!  You’ll be a wife and mother anyway!  You won’t have to support a family, and cooking does not require algebra!

 

We know.  Us too.  Me too.


You have these questions and many more.

 

We do, too.

 

You’re not alone.

 

You’re not the only one asking or wondering.

 

It doesn’t matter how much it turns your stomach or how dark it may seem…

 

We have been there, too.


And so have a host of other people.

 

Thousands of other people.

 

So ask the questions.

 

And look at it even when it’s dark and sickening.

 

Face the regrets and start addressing them.

 

We have too.

 

 


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22 Responses to ““Me Too””

  1. Heidi Says:

    I love this!

    I finally was comfortable wearing a bathing suit at the beach in the summer of 2009.

    I am a single mother of three and finally working on my associates degree. (Yes, it can be done.)

    I am 38 years old.

    Recently a friend of mine from church gave me a shapeless denim jumper. She said it “looked like me”. Horrors, Gasp!

  2. Becky Says:

    Oh, how emotional this makes me. I’m very slowly undoing so much in my life–and I have to do it alone as a single mother to three little boys…

    I wish I could post this on my facebook page but my parents (who have not been in ATI for around 10 years) would probably feel very hurt by my feelings on this matter. I don’t blame them. I don’t…

  3. soffiasoul Says:

    Yes, yes, yes, me too. Thank you for the reminder and the empathy.

  4. livingfree7 Says:

    HAHAHAHA! I have NO idea there was an X-ATI girl out there too! Amazing and God bless you as you unveil the cultic ways and ideas Bill Gothard has destroyed so many lives with. :) I hope through you people can find the healing they need.

  5. angela Says:

    There are so many elements of my developing years that I’ve distanced myself from, and yet reading this brought some sighs and tears and nods. I don’t blame my husband for not “getting it”, although he does point out girls in jumpers and say, “I’m sorry honey, but that’s just ugly.” Like I didn’t know.

    The worst is all the indecision on the part of my parents that, on the one hand, afforded a slightly better social exposure than many other ATI kids had, but didn’t ever once make them think to ask me what I wanted to do with my life, what my goals were, or what I dreamed for myself. It’s one thing to say, “You’re a good writer, and very, very smart.” Yet another to help your very green and sheltered-from-the-“system” teen search out scholarships to accredited colleges. The agreement with Gothard was implied, because they didn’t counter it at home, and we never talked about these things. I functioned under the assumption that I was waiting around for someone to be interested in me and want to court me, and I would rather have died. Seriously.

    So my two girls won’t ever wear denim jumpers or grow up with patriarchy poisoning their minds and hearts… these are the easy things. For me, what’s difficult is learning to live without “NO, YOU CANNOT” guiding my choices every day. It’s kinda of like getting rid of a drug habit, I guess… one day at a time. Just saying yes to life and being happy to be free and to love who I am.

  6. Susan Says:

    I am a former ATI mom, mom of 8. I don’t know what we parents were thinking. We were completely snowed. I never thought to question it. When you were in a bubble of reality that was ATIA, you accept their reality. My kids got the implied message but we never realized it. It took a toll on my girls. I have asked each of them to forgive me and they have.

    • angela Says:

      Can I forgive you too, by proxy? LOL

      It takes a ton of true humility to ask your children to forgive you… this is nothing like throwing a red sweatshirt in with the whites.

      *applause*

      ((hug))

  7. nolongerIFBX Says:

    I had that jumper! And you’re right. It allowed me to hide everything that made me female.

    Me too.

  8. Ruth Brooks Says:

    Thank you so much for these posts! I am an X ATI girl and I’m so thankful my kids will never have to hear any of that stuff, unless it’s a cult awareness class :) It takes years to get over it, and being exposed to the real God and his grace (no, not the strength to do what I ought but just God’s crazy love for me!), and I’m still a work in progress!

    Hearing about other peoples’ journeys toward “wholeness” is awesome! Thanks again!

  9. Freedom - please!!!! Says:

    I am in the same boat many of you are. I’m almost 21, living with my parents, but fortunately, have been allowed to earn a BA college degree. What happens when I finish school? Hopefully, an outside job that will lead to living on my own??? I love my family…but how do you cope with having to obey household rules when you’re an adult and should be allowed to decide things for yourself without everyone coming down on you as “a terrible sinner” simple because you’re following what you feel God wants from you, and not all the Pharisee type standards everyone (as in ATI) wants you to keep? I started wearing pants (finally), but still receive comments from my father about “how beautiful” I look in skirts. I can still be a strong Christian and wear pants, and listen to music that’s NOT only classical or hymns, right???? I think yes…but how when living at home?

    Oh – and yes, I had that jumper to. I still have to wear baggy clothes…but at least I can wear pants…it’s a start :-)

  10. JS Says:

    I have to say that I never experienced “ATIA”, but I was around to watch many of my peers go through it. While I do not agree with many of the “teachings” of ATI, I hope that people don’t throw the Bible out with the bathwater.

    I remember having long conversations with my female ATI friends who were so self-deprecating. It was always happy faces and smiles, but I remember telling a few of them “that is completely stupid”, and “show me that in the Bible”. To their surprise, they couldn’t produce verses that fit the teachings.

    That was why my parents stopped listening. Thankfully (for my sisters sake), my parents caught the bug, and then caught the nasty smell in about a years time.

    • JS Says:

      P.S. Vision Forum is a new iteration of ATI. Doug Phillips is currently leading a new world order of male dominance that scares me. The only difference is he has taken a lot of time to lay out the step by step groundwork for twisting Biblical reference into a self-satisfying version of God’s plan for women.

      Search for Doug Phillips in the document and you’ll see what I mean.

      http://www.midwestoutreach.org/Pdf%20Journals/2007/spring_2007.pdf

  11. M.E. Anders Says:

    Beautiful post…I’m new to your website, but I used to be an “inner circle” member at the FBC of Hammond. I’m now a happy, freed woman! I’ll be subscribing to your blog, as the information will be helpful to others I know who have “left.” Yep – I had a jean jumper just like that one, too!

  12. celets Says:

    thank you so much for this web site it brings tears to my eyes that there is people who understand! i didnt realize how many problems i had in common

  13. KJ Says:

    Me, too.

  14. Meg Says:

    Me too! To some of those. I was an active tomboy who hated (well I still do) pink and dresses. My parents only managed to get me to wear dresses and skirts on Sundays. Luckily my childhood was mostly normal and I had been allowed to dress myself up until then. I was 17 when my family joined ATI and my parents became extremely obsessed with what clothes everyone wore. I remember several occassions when I was told that the mary janes I wanted to order were “too trendy” or that my skirt hem was “too high” and therefore immodest. I never fully accepted all these insane rules. Though I did make an effort to humor my parents and try to follow them. I’m so glad that deep in my heart, I knew the truth and I knew what was healthy and right. I held onto the things I had learned from reading, from friends and from people in real, happy families. I hope that someday I can forgive my parents for this. I don’t think I will ever understand how people would ever rationalize this lifestyle/religion. I have decided not to have kids of my own. I’m still suffering the effects of abuse, lies and cult logic. It was so much more than frumpy dresses and pink jumpers. Those hideous garments symbolized a lot of ugly, archaic and unhealthy ideas that sadly, my parents still hold onto.

    • Single_minded Says:

      Yes, I was a tomboy as well. In my secret identity outside of ATI, I borrowed my cousin’s clothes and ran wild in the woods. My parents never forced me to wear skirts 24/7, only on school days, Sundays, and during a conference. They started letting me wear pants on a more regular basis after I enrolled at a local co-op which offered P.E.
      I, too, doubt I will ever have kids of my own.

      • Esbee Says:

        I never wanted to have kids. I hate dresses. Had a college education. I loved horses, cats and art. After going to just one Mr. Bill seminar in the early 80’s I came out of there feeling like the worst sinner, hater of God, murderer of all children, etc. It took meeting God one on one where He personally told me He had made me with my likes, dislikes, personality and my only sin was lack of faith to live the way He had made me. Bottom line- never had kids, wear pants all the time, own and ride horses and have 11 cats, 2 dogs and one long suffering husband. That is how God made me.

        There was only one Moses who led the Israelites out of Egypt and witnessed the one and only parting of the Red Sea, only one Noah who rode out the flood with all the animals on the one and only ark, only one Abraham who by faith believed God’s promise to make him a nation (and he had only the one son) one David who using only one stone, brought down a giant. And one Mary who was visited by the one Holy Spirit to become mother to the one and only Jesus who proclaims that he is the only One by whom salvation can be had. None of them attended any Gothard seminars or heard a Billy Graham speak and quiverfull was their only way of life because there was no birth-control. Nor were there cars nor electric lights back then but we use them now without feeling sinful. And God has made only one YOU and one ME…an incredible distinct personality found lost and wandering that He will paint and frame into one masterpiece! And that masterpiece will look like no other.

  15. kelsey Says:

    this particular blog entry by Ann Voskamp really speaks to my heart about past “junk”, with hope for the future and moving on:

    http://www.aholyexperience.com/2011/08/figuring-out-how-to-forgive-your-parents/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+HolyExperience+%28Holy+Experience%29&utm_content=Google+Reader

  16. Fahn Says:

    Me too. I was forced to wear skirts and dresses until i had my own free will at 18. Even then it took me a year or so afterwords to realize i could actually “dress myself” Thanks so much for this blog! love it! It’s nice to know others are struggling with this as well

  17. Single_minded Says:

    Me too.
    Me too.
    Me too.
    Thank you, x-ati-girls; it is such a relief to realize you aren’t alone.

  18. Grace Alexander Says:

    Me too. Thank you for posting! I was only in ATI for a short time, but the teachings of that and other “Christian” cults damaged me so badly. I have 3 children now, and my sister just had her first – she was convinced for a long time that she would never have any after what we went through! I’m glad to see so many people who have escaped.

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